I love UK urban music, but there is a serious problem that we have. Our amazing rappers are forgetting that they’re from the UK and not American. We have a great and unique scene over here, so I’m bemused as to why we have artists adopting American personas.
America’s influence on the UK music scene is so strong, that it is starting to feel like an extension of the US hip hop. What is the point of having British music if its just like American music? The desperation for American approval, further strengthens this influence. This is baffling as the people that buy UK urban music are from the UK, so why are we so fixated on cracking America. We’ve had too many examples of artists that have tried to appeal to the US and the Americans were not interested. So why even try anymore? Many artists like Skepta, JME etc know this now and are just doing their own things and focusing on building the culture here and this should be the plan for everyone.
“I can’t get over the accent!” – American, about British rapper.
It makes no sense to me why people will incorporate sounds and influences from America when they barely accept ours.
Look at how excited many of us get when we see our favourite UK artists collaborating with a US artist. But really, with all the UK/US collaboration songs done so far how many have been outstanding? or remain in constant rotation? Recently I heard the Rick Ross assisted song, ‘Certified‘ by Krept & Konan and even though the ‘Play Dirty‘ duo have been a long time favourite of mine… everything about that song was off.
The beat didn’t feel like it belonged to Krept and Konan and with one verse, Rick Ross, took ownership. There was nothing that excited me about the song and I struggled to find a purpose for it’s existence as the song was released in the UK and not in the US.
Skepta said it best, it’s like “The UK run out of ideas. Everybody’s doing covers of American beats. If it ain’t the ace hood hustle hard flow then it all sounds like rick ross to me..”. What reason would someone from outside the UK have to listen to our music if what we give them is a UK artist trying to make US sounding music?
The scene as a whole would be better if artists were not so heavily influenced by the American culture and sounds. If we embraced our own styles and stopped trying to pretend like we’re the 51st state of America, then we can stand out on our own and become a bigger force in music!
Just because there’s 100 trash rappers that are prospering in America with a specific style or dancing around wearing Louie V and Gucci and doing / saying the random stuff they do over there doesn’t mean that by emulating it, it will work here to that level at all. Just because something worked for an American artist doesn’t mean it will work here. You can’t get away with being trash over here like in America. If Young Thug was originally from Peckham and acting and rapping the same here as he was in the US he would be probably working in Tesco in 2 years. The US Scene is just different and we need to understand this.
Before we wonder about conquering America’s scene, let’s conquer here and build a SCENE full of ORIGINAL, AUTHENTIC UK styled music with artists that have their OWN themes, subject matters, sounds, personalities and brands. In America despite having a bunch of artists that are similar, you have many artists who actually have their own lanes, their own signature sounds, different brands and that has resulted in success for them. You know what they represent. In the UK Scene – what lanes are there? How can we differentiate who is who? Why should anyone care?
The UK Scene is growing and it is getting there but I have to comment on what I’m seeing because as a fan I want the scene to grow as much as anyone else. There are artists that do have their own brands, lanes and sounds but I’m talking about the majority rather than the few.
Once we have established a culture of several people in the scene consistently creating signature sounds unique to our scene, we won’t need to worry about what the Americans are doing. If the culture is prospering enough then the Americans will want to work with us and must adapt to our style. I don’t want to hear excuses of “There are more people in the US” because there ARE people in the UK. There are people in the UK that have money and might spend money on artists that we connect with but why should they when people aren’t creating consistent brands and music that people HERE can identify with? You’re not making music to sell to people in New York, you’re doing so to sell in London, Manchester etc. so connect with your mass audience here!
It doesn’t matter what trash rappers there are in America. In the UK, if you’re not unique and don’t make yourself stand out compared to your peers and don’t create your own lane, you won’t reach big success here, sorry. If as a scene, artists don’t try to be unique, make themselves stand out and focus on being the influencers rather than the ones influenced, we’ll always just be trying to appeal to America. Forget them. There’s a scene over here to build.
Words by @TonteBoDouglas