Future Stars: 20 UK Rappers To Watch
Rap, an umbrella term for many musical genres defined by rhythmic speech, is something the UK excels at. Here are our top 20 breaking vocalists across drill, hip hop, grime and trap.
The UK, birthplace of grime and home to icons like Wiley, Skepta, Stormzy, Central Cee and Little Simz, has long been a frontrunner in the rap music scene. With its distinct regional flavours and a legacy dating back to the 1980s, the UK has consistently produced groundbreaking rap talent for the world stage.
Bubbling under the surface of the UK music scene, a new wave of up-and-coming artists and future stars is emerging. In 2023, British rappers continue to push the boundaries of UK hip-hop, grime and drill while exploring new cross-genre sounds. Our top 20 list showcases these exceptional talents, although it is by no means an exhaustive selection.
1. Surya Sen
Surya Sen has arguably emerged already, on the radar of the likes of NME, and playing some of London’s best clubs on the reg. Even so, as one of the best in the game, we’re dubbing him underrated.
Part of a new wave of British Asian talent, Sen is known for his playful blend of hip hop and house, drawing from Detroit flavours, French touch, garage and sample-heavy boom-bap beats. The result is a meticulously crafted sound that deserves huge commercial success.
If you don’t know, get to know.
2. Finn Foxell
Part of the collective Elevation Mediation, West London rapper Finn Foxell is putting in the work and gathering steam, with collaborations with the likes of Lava La Rue already under his belt. Playing with cloud rap, UK garage and house, his deep voice chronicles life in London.
A stalwart of the modern hip hop scene.
Stepz was TikTok’s 2022 breakout star aged just 18, on the strength of his 2nd single. ‘Cramp Dat’ samples Soulja Boy's 2007 hit ‘Crank That’ and was designed to inspire dance challenges and grow exposure.
However, there’s more to this artist's rap game than good marketing. Inspired by grime legends such as D Double E, his flow and lyricism coupled with his online presence, could see Stepz push grime music into a new era.
4. Juice Menace
At the helm of a burgeoning Cardiff scene, Juice Menace’s rise is one that other aspiring artists dream of. The talented rapper was scouted as a teenager by a Warner Music rep after posting some freestyles and remixes on SoundCloud.
A few years on, the visionary rapper has a flow and lyrical talent that stands up against much more experienced contemporaries.
5. Chanel Loren
Hailing from South East London, BRIT School grad Chanel Loren is a British Caribbean rapper, now based in Sydney Australia. Less than 12 months into her career, Loren is already being compared to seminal female rappers — SZA, Jorja Smith and PinkPantheress.
Scheduled to play the UK’s greatest celebration of new talent The Great Escape 2024 in Brighton, this meteoric rise is showing no sign of stopping.
Fusing gritty UK hip hop and vibrant Afro music, BZ is producing some of the best rap music known to the UK from his home in Croydon.
A break came in 2022 when his single ‘2 G’s‘ was featured in Top Boy, and BZ has gone on to earn the support of tastemakers DJ Target, DJ Semtex and Sian Anderson.
Manchester rising artist D8 has swiftly emerged as a prominent figure in the UK rap scene.
Breaking out in 2021 with his Desi-infused debut single 'Feelings', he has since amassed a UK-wide following and shared the stage with notable contemporaries such as Double LZ, Mastermind, Mitch, AJ JNR and Bandokay.
Hailing from Glasgow, Chlobocop is one of the most interesting young ‘rappers’ in the business, defying classification and often expectations with her unique anti-pop sound.
Her quick witted trap-infused flow is garnering interest from the UK underground and further afield.
9. Nokia Mansion
Chronicling being skint, in love, clout chasers and the rise of Stüssy, Nokia Mansion are a punk/rap trio to take note of.
Making their own mark on the DIY British rap sphere, catch them live first chance you get.
Named a Pirate Resident this year, maybe we’re a bit biassed, but these mic skills are on another level.
LVT is a Zimbabwean born rapper, singer and songwriter from Leicester. Fusing R&B and hip hop, the vocals and performance are flawless. Check LVT on the Pirate Boomtown stage this summer.
A South London prodigy, Scuti’s contribution to the UK rap scene is significant beyond her years. At just 22, she masterfully blends influences from trap, grime and UK drill and has already appeared on prestigious Boiler Room and festival stages.
Journey through Scuti’s discography and enjoy powerful visuals to boot.
Over-archingly referred to as nu-metal, luminary artist Deijuvhs encompasses UK rap, punk, drill and softer shoegaze sounds.
With a profile that’s built on underground rave series’ in London and a DIY sound and aesthetic, the East London native is breaking through in real time, about to embark on a UK and Europe tour, writing residency and back-to-back festival shows.
Catch him if you can.
A grafter set for greatness, poised for mainstream success, Strandz is a 21-year-old German-born, South London-based rapper.
Already cosigned by the likes of Stormzy and Digga D with a top 10 hit under his belt, the BRIT School grad is making open, intelligent rap, building a fanbase that includes big-hitter critics.
It seems he can do no wrong.
Lyrical dexterity, undeniable swagger, set to dominate the near future, FFSYTHO is fresh off her debut Glastonbury show after performing in the finals of the festival’s Emerging Talent Competition.
Operating on her own plane in UK grime, the Northampton-based MC is one to watch.
Enviable penmanship powers Kish! and his brand of alternative rap.
A jack-of-all-trades, his music blog Paradoujin, ‘Haters Podcast’ on YouTube and photography all align with his commitment to document movements, scenes and artists when the mainstream won’t.
What’s not to love?
Priding himself on wordplay, Eneeks’ soulful hip hop spans personal, political, urban and spiritual themes, designed to challenge listeners, feeding the neo wave movement in the UK.
17. Joe James
Rocketing towards the helm of the UK music scene, a child of UK rap and grime, Joe James is on a release rampage in 2023, dropping 3 back-to-back EPs, proving he’s got plenty to say.
Heaters follow heaters as James discusses the issues of the day in salient verses.
No list of hot new hip hop artists would be complete without Jordy.
Tottenham born and raised, with a virtuosic flow, Jordy has worked with the likes of Kojey Radical, Sam Wise and Wretch 23. A member of the growing rap/art collective Vibbar and a leader in the alternative rap circuit, take note.
A UK grime must-listen. Popping up on SBTV, GRM Daily and BL@CKBOX since his breakout debut EP ‘Peace, Lust & Sauce’ in 2018, Jafro might already be on your radar. The more you see, the more you’ll want to see.
North London genre-fluid rapper Nics is picking up support from the likes of GRM Daily and Kiss FM in the early days of his career.
Spanning grime, hip hop, spoken word and jazz, there’s style and substance in his contagious sound.
This influx of young UK rappers suggests that the UK's legacy as a rap superpower is very much intact. From the more established Surya Sen and Finn Foxell to the breakout success of Stepz and the promise of artists like LVT, Deijuvhs and Nics, the underground scene is thriving.
For new artists trying to get their own music noticed, there are labels across the UK (major and independent) who will listen to your demos. You can find rap record labels looking for new artists by using the music/label discovery platform DropTrack — simply filter by 'rap' and drop your track. Find trap, drill, grime and hip hop labels looking for new artists the same way.
Need affordable recording studios in London or elsewhere in the UK to record your demos? Try Pirate.