The UK music scene is moving at serious levels. Whether it's road rap, alt-rap, UK drill, grime, or garage, there's a slew of next-gen UK artists hustling hard, building hype and forging their own paths to break through.
At KING, we've always taken up the mantle to shine the light on new, young artists making waves. So, we've put together a list of some of the most underrated artists in the UK rap, grime and drill scenes that deserve a place in your playlist!
Success don't come overnight, and Joe James is one of the hardest-working artists in the game right now. The Essex native kicked off 2023 with a tripled EP release, dropping 18 tracks across the 3", 6", 9" trilogy, picking up exactly where he left off in 2022, with no less than six releases.
Pairing Hazy, sample-heavy production with understated, composed flow, James's voice is his biggest asset. Bringing a smooth, bass-heavy delivery to the table, his music is reminiscent of early Giggs. An endorsement in its own right. Instagram >> Joejamesworld
A certified member of the KING family, on his way to winning BBC Three's series The Rap Game, Big Jest displayed a natural talent for lyricism, weaving tightly-spun tales of struggle interspersed with clever worldplay. The Croydon boy's aptitude for storytelling took him through to the series final, where he impressed Krept and Konan to take the title. Expect big things from this man in 2023, starting with the lyrical juggernaut 'Punchline King'. Instagram >> Bigjest
Flying the flag for female MC's is Brixton resident Cristale, whose scathing, venomous delivery sets her apart from the rest. Equally at home over thundering UK drill beats as on jungle and dancehall, Cristale embodies a pure lyricist with supreme confidence in her ability.
She was nominated for best newcomer at last year's MOBO's, and ahs been highlighted on Radio 1Xtra's 'Hot for 2023' list - keep an eye on her! Instagram >> Cristaleyy
Drawing from a wide range of influences from grime and UKG to glitchy electronica, Jeshi's last album 'Universal Credit' was released in 2022 to widespread acclaim. Artists like Toro Y Moi and Lana Del Rey are cited as influences, giving a good indication of the East Londoner's electric sound.
Spitting scathing social commentaries on the inequalities of modern Britain, 'Universal Credit' covers everything from the cost-of-living crisis to suicide and council housing maintenance. Instagram >> Jeshi__
Grime OG's will know Manga St.Hilare as a member of Roll Deep - so he's far from an up-and-comer - but his solo output is seriously underrated, so we felt it was only right to get that spotlight on his work. The veteran MC remains one of the most forward-thinking artists in Grime today, combining classic Eski synths with rattling 808s and his trademark nonchalance.
His latest project -2022's "Run For Your Life" - might be his best work yet, calling on features from P Money and Tre Mission amongst others. Instagram >> MangaSaintHilare
Sounding distinctly, unapologetically UK, Louis Culture has refined his sound since his debut release in 2016. Spitting over woozy synth work and off-kilter drum patterns that take cues from trap and UK garage, he's craved out a protean sound which lends itself to party tracks and introspective late-nighters alike.
2022's "When Life Presents Obstacle" was the rapper's most varied output yet, and has helped build foundations for a big year in 2023. Instagram >> Louisculture
Having been quietly bubbling for a couple of years now, ShaSimone is poised to break through. After an uncredited feature on Dave's #1 album alongside James Blake, the British-Ghanaian singer and rapper has been showing out across a string of singles and a 7-track EP in late 2022.
She's at home on a wide range of beats, taking cues from afrobeat, UK rap and drill. Instagram >> ShaSimone
An exciting prospect hailing from East London, Psychs first made headlines in 2020 aged just 18, with "Spreadin", a track about halting the spread of Coronavirus. A steady string of strong features and loose freestyles followed, where Psychs showed off lyricism beyond his age and an ear for selecting addictive instrumentals. Instagram >> Psychsmusic
Taking cues from the US Trap scene, Nottingham's M'Way uses infectious confidence and dense, slang-heavy wordplay to spin gritty tales of the hustle. His 2020 single "Whole Lotta Guap" was a sleeper hit, and his latest releases have seen him explore new flows, developing a new aspect of his sound. Instagram >> 1mway
Displaying a comfortable versatility that combines elements of soul, rap, and rock, Finn Foxell's cadence flits between shouty punk and laidback stoner, soundtracking every occasion. It's easy to see the West Londoner's mainstream appeal, given how his sound can be moulded to a vast number of styles and sounds. Instagram >> FinnFoxell
Tim, KING co-founder comments:
"The most notable thing about all of these artists is their crossover appeal and ability to ride different styles. The current scene is like a melting pot, and the next gen are taking cues from a whole lot of genres to carve out their own unique sound."