For the last couple of years, it has completely baffled me as to why there is such a lack of media documenting the sudden rise in UK rap/road rap/drill music’s popularity. You only have to spend a little time on YouTube and look on channels such as GRM Daily, SBTV and Link Up TV, to see that rappers and crews such as 67, 86, Harlem Spartans, Potter Payper, C Biz, Nines and SL are causally getting millions of views within a matter of days. The popularity of this genre of rap music is substantial and as a person who works in a school, for the majority of young people that live in London, this is the music of choice in most situations.
However, despite the abundance of fans, mainstream media has seemed to sweep it under the carpet unless reporting on some type of gang-associated crime. The media only seems to accentuates the negative connotations of the lyrical content rather than reading between the lines and seeing young people depicting what they have grown up around and discovering an opportunity to use these experiences to find success. I’m not going to pretend like the lyrics don’t paint pictures of violence, crime and gang warfare, but it is their own artistic representation of their lifestyle, which is something that has been widely accepted in other genres.
Despite the overlook form mainstream media, finally Noisey, who have been responsible for many cutting-edge documentaries, have teamed with the legendary Mike Skinner, to bring a real insight into this flourishing music style and interview a range of artists such as 67, Section Boyz, Skore Breezy, Potter Payper and C Biz.
Mike Skinner began by making reference to Giggs paving the way and almost creating a blueprint for being a successful gangsta rapper in the UK. He also discussed this being his first recollection of a real gangsta rapper in England and the rap scene take a real step away from the grime sound.
What I personally found interesting was when he was talking to 67 about shows being shut down by the police. When discussing the topic, 67 member, LD, talked about shows of their tour getting shut down one by one thanks the infamous form 696, which allows police to bring shows to a haunt if it is considered ‘high risk’. As concerts are the main source of income for a musician in the current climate of the music industry, they are essentially stopping these young rappers from moving away from the lifestyle of crime and violence. What was also potent was when LD was asked about the misconceptions people have about him, to which he responded “that I’m the devil”. This gives a deeper insight into how the media may view these groups of young artists.
On the other side was Section Boyz, who have seen a lot more commercial exposure than the other artists and have managed to make a lot of money from the scene. This may due to co-signs from artists in the limelight such as Stormzy, Skepta, etc. but regardless this acts as motivation for many acts that, with enough determination, they can make a success of ‘road rap’.
Mike Skinner also goes on to speak to speak to C Biz and discusses his recent acquittal from a murder charge and how he is now focused on getting his music out there and making a success of it. Mike also spoke with Essex-rapper Potter Payper, who recently has ended up on the wrong side of the law and is currently in prison facing serious charges.
Overall, this documentary sheds light on a part of the UK rap scene that is highly regarded in the streets but practically ignored by a lot of media. It is almost what grime was 10 years ago; music from the streets that is considered to raw for the mainstream. I honestly think this is a much watch and provides an interesting insight into the so called ‘road rap’ genre, which is something that was needed. If you like this you should also check our Nathan Miller’s LDN documentary which takes a wider look in the UK rap scene.