I’ve been following the journey of Welsh rap since the early 90s and I can honestly say that now is probably the most exciting time I’ve ever known for the MCs in my homeland, maybe even more so than the early noughties when myself and good friends Dregz and Ruffstylz started the long running Hip-hop night Higher Learning, or a few years later when the Grime scene in Cardiff and Newport was a shining gem that very few got to uncover. Since then I’ve managed the respectably successful rock / rap act Astroid Boys and booked a number of the nation’s rappers for Boomtown festival, so it’s an absolute pleasure to be invited to curate this new monthly round up and share some of my favourites that are currently on repeat in my house.
If any track is set to blow up outside of its immediate surroundings it’s this latest one from Juice Menace out of Cardiff, who after trying a number of different beats for size in her short but impressive career, opts to jump on a Drill track and it proves to be the perfect move. She absolutely tears up the track, easily up to par with the majority of her London contemporaries,
Another artist with a multiple of styles in his repertoire is SZWÉ, straight outta Cwmbran (though currently studying in Aberystwyth). His powerful Hip-hop track ‘No Justice, No Peace’ was my first introduction and the follow up, a soulful RNB love song called ‘Retrograde’ had a number of weeks on the BBC Radio Wales A list. This time he lets out his grimey side for ‘Shaky’ and it shows that he shines in whatever approach he chooses.
Also coming with a killer grime flow is Mace The Great, on a beat that flirts with various genres and even manages to sound a little Latin in places. The Cardiff artist’s last track ‘Brave’ was ridiculously infectious and this hits just as hard. If he can keep up this consistency it would truly be a crime if he didn’t get the wider recognition that he certainly seems to deserve.
From Splott over to Llanishen and an altogether smoother vibe from skating stoner KINGKHAN (not to be confused with King Khan from Canada). The chorus carries the mantra of “bad energy we don’t need that” with relaxed raps over a shoulder shuffling beat that reminds me of various club hits from between 1998 to 2003. KINGKHAN is very much on his own vibe here and I like it.
Speaking of different vibes, Luke RV from the borough of Neath Port Talbot, probably has one of the most distinctive deliveries in Wales right now. He has a laid back style but his voice always seems at the edge of breaking down which works beautifully on this melancholy garage track produced by Minas. Considering it’s a rap and garage crossover I like that he also has Cardiff rapper Local in the video, as that’s pretty much his signature sound. He’s another artist you should definitely check out.
I think after 20 years on the scene it’s safe to call DW Smith a veteran and it’s refreshing to see that he’s lost not an ounce of his spark throughout the years, in fact I’d say he’s stronger than ever and this is testament to that. Taking on the more frustrating elements of his Facebook friends, the conspiracy theorists and ‘casual racists’, over a stomping Hip-hop reworking of Nordic artist Eivor’s ‘Undo Your Mind’.
The multi talented LloydyLew from Croesyceiliog is not just a great rapper, but also a member of the professional Rugby Union team the Dragons and has played for the national Sevens team, a fact which he mentions here whilst riding a Chris Rich take on the MJ Cole classic ‘Crazy Love’.
Finally, a firm favourite of mine for a long time now who has found an almost new lease of life amongst the Drum N Bass crowd over the last couple of years. Not that Skamma can’t still rip up every kind of beat and here the Barry boy takes on a classic sounding grime riddim, proving he’s an absolute force to be reckoned with..