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Green Light in the City

10 Notts Hip Hop Artists to Watch Out For

23 February 17 words: Nathaniel Benjamin

The UK hip hop scene is having somewhat of a resurgence these days. There’s a big light shining on London, but Nottingham has always been a birthplace of premium hip hop talent, from Out da Ville rapping circles around the rest of the country, to Pariz-1 proving that she can go bar to bar with any MC. The Nottingham pool of talent has always remained full, so we’ve collated a list of current hip hop artists to get to know this year.

It’s worth noting that without a few Nottingham rap legends laying down the groundwork beforehand, we may not have many of the artists on this list. So before we start, we give a big shout out to Scorzayzee, Wariko, Pariz-1, Out da Ville, Stan Crook Ed, J Gold, Fif Nova, 1st Blood, Cappo, Land Lordz, Fort Nottz, Smokes and Bluntz.

Juga-Naut

"The Nottingham scene is constantly moving. The legends are proudly cemented as cornerstones of the culture in the city. For such a small place, we produce so much music and it's finally making a difference throughout the country."

Juga-Naut has been rhyming since the age of thirteen, and producing music since fourteen. Now, at 26, Jugz has become a staple in the Nottingham hip hop scene, receiving co-signs from artists like Big Daddy Kane, Rakim and DJ Premier. He has a wide range of musical influences stemming from Big Pun, MF Doom and Nottingham rap veterans Scorzayzee and Cappo. His style derives from golden-age lyricism, his catalogue is stacked with bars dripping with intricate wordplay and verbal imagery, not to mention impeccably smooth and versatile production. This year, look out for the self-produced Time & Place, 6 Bricks EP, co-created with Micall Parknsun, and a major release from hip hop trio VVV.


Youthoracle

"The Nottingham hip hop scene is healthy and has been for over ten years now, with legends like Scorzayzee, Out da Ville and Cappo being the original veterans, to now people like Juga-Naut and Vandal Savage. I feel we do not get the recognition we deserve, the talent is flawless."

Youthoracle has been spitting for over twelve years now, he cites his musical influences as Eminem and Jadakiss, while also being heavily inspired by Nottingham legends Wariko and Stan. Youth's rapping skills have taken him all over the place, even battling for a few years in the Don't Flop league and earning himself Newcomer Of The Year. He has since left the league to concentrate on music and create his own battle league, Clash Money. Musically, his style is a mix between hip hop and grime which is a really dope blend, especially when it includes a ferocious flow alongside verbal gymnastics. Such talent has allowed Youth to share the same stage as legends such as Method Man, Redman and MOP. Check out his Newclearpower album which is out now.


Doogie Houser

"There has been a bias from DJs to play mainly London MCs and because we're more or less classed as northerners, our talent isn't acknowledged. We've always had good artists, more than good enough to cut it, but I just always feel we will be seen as hot regionally rather than nationally"

Doogie has been rapping since he was fourteen, with his early influences including legendary lyricists Canibus and Nas. No surprise, considering Doogie's lyrical prowess. You’ll find his verses filled with witty metaphors and super dope similes. He is extremely passionate about the Nottingham scene, citing his proudest moments as working with local MCs and producers that he has always respected over the years. Doogie dropped The Barcode Mixtape last year as an appetiser for his upcoming album Pandora's Box, which will be out later this year. Judging from the mixtape and visuals he has blessed us with, I have no doubt it’ll be an impressive body of work.


J.Littles

"Hip hop is the one genre in Nottingham where everyone feels more entitled than the other. There's no real support amongst fellow Nottingham artists. Most refuse to even acknowledge what anyone else puts out. People only pay homage to others out of some form of pity when they feel they are in a better place than that artist. I feel there are way too many rappers and producers that don't even know each other."

J.Littles has been rapping for over a decade now – he grew up listening to Nas and Common, which is evident in his soulful-yet-lyrical approach to his music. Littles is an incredible lyricists with an extremely versatile flow, and such talent allowed him to share the same stage as Talib Kweli when he toured the UK. Littles dropped a project with Nick Stez last year called The Rushton Gardens Project which birthed the madly underrated single Inspiration Is You, which in my opinion was one of the best hip hop tracks to come out of the city last year. Littles promises that his finest work to date is currently in production and is likely to drop later this year, so keep your eyes and ears open.

Jourdan Pierre Blair

"The Nottingham scene is growing. There has been a slight change in sound – we now have trap and drill music which the young artists are heavily embracing. In terms of the traditional hip hop sound, it is growing, there are now more producers emerging and we are also seeing young artists rhyming over old school beats...There is definitely a market for it."

Jourdan has been making music since he was twelve years old, heavily gravitating towards Nas growing up, who inspired him to pick up the pen and pad after endlessly reciting classic Escobar lyrics in his bedroom. While Jourdan is predominantly a hip hop artist, he’s also previously found success in the grime scene under the alias Jah Digga – a testament to his versatility as an artist. Such talent has earned him a performance on a Glastonbury stage, as well as for Radio 1, and he’s even toured Germany where he was able to break down language barriers through hip hop. Jourdan has an EP dropping this year which will be accompanied by a ten-minute documentary, so keep your eyes on him this year.


Alice Short

"I think the Nottingham hip hop scene has a lot of great artists and there is diversity within it. There's a whole spectrum of artists – some people are more geared toward the grime scene and it goes all the way to being almost spoken word."

Alice has been making music for the past five years but admits that she’s only recently started to enjoy the music that she’s producing. Her musical inspirations are Kate Tempest, Mikill Pane, Devlin and Joy Division. Her musical stylistics are a refreshing mix of hip hop, poetry and spoken word, a style of which she describes as "hip hop made by an introvert that hangs out with a bunch of singer songwriters." Her track Small Towns is a breath of fresh air and was even picked up by BBC Radio 1, going on to be Huw Stephen's Tip of the Week – not a bad look for a local artist. Look out for her EP, Frantic Dreams, The Harshest Nightmares, which will be dropping in March.


Ty Healy

"The Nottingham hip hop scene is always doing something, from the vets like Cappo constantly dropping high-level music to the new comers at the open mic events showing promise. I feel like hip hop takes a back seat to grime in our city, which there is nothing wrong with as it kind of reflects what's happening in the UK."

Ty learned how to rap at four years old but didn't actually start penning his own lyrics until he was fourteen. Growing up, he became inspired by Slick Rick and MF Doom, who are renowned for their detailed storytelling and unique rhyming schemes. If one could describe Ty's style it would be effortless – he literally flows like water and is a freestyle monster. His off-the-dome rhyming skills even caught the attention of Public Enemy's Chuck D when he rhymed on stage on their UK tour. Look out for a few releases from Ty this year. There’s an EP on the way – a follow-up to the very sick Green Ratt album with DJ Dan Rattomatic – and the resurgence of the 1st Blood collective, who’re currently working on a comeback project. Ty described this upcoming album as one of the best he's heard in a while… We believe him!


K-Harmony

"I'm loving the Nottingham scene at the moment. Artists like Splinta and Youthoracle are always bringing something different to the scene, so big up everyone doing their ting. UK is shining with talent right now."

K has been writing and making music for the past seven years, with her musical inspirations stemming from J Cole and Lauryn Hill. It’s therefore no surprise that her style is soulfully conscious and uplifting with elements of social and political commentary. You get a real golden-age hip hop vibe, and she has the ability to visualise a social struggle, expressing it eloquently over a nineties boom bap beat. K has travelled around the country gigging, however her most significant high was performing at the Sneinton festival last summer due to the positive vibes and the engagement she had with the crowd. Keep your eyes peeled for a joint EP with soul singer Loretta Christina, dropping this year.


Veronica Caine

"I'm liking what I'm hearing, especially from the artists who have been around for ages. I would like to see more females representing though!"

Veronica started in the game singing at a young age, she had always had a love for hip hop but didn't take it seriously until 2014 when she signed to Take 1. Caine is an old-school hip hop head, with musical influences from MC Lyte, Big Pun and Nas. Her influences are not surprising when listening to her rap – Caine is a sublime lyricist with a flow that’s aggressively impeccable and is a force to be reckoned with. With her skills, she’s shared the stage with the legendary Talib Kweli in 2015, which she cites as a pivotal point in her musical career. Veronica is currently working on an EP at Take 1 studios and is also working on a new film project coming soon.


Vandal Savage

Vandal had a very busy 2016, dropping two EPs, Savagery Over Everything and the recently released 1000th Prestige. Vandal is living proof of the self-fulfilling prophecy theory, he is a savage by name and a lyrical savage on the mic. Stylistically he sounds like he is the missing UK link in the Wu-Tang Clan due to his complex rhyme schemes and soul-sampled production. Vandal is one third of VVV, alongside Juga-Naut and Cappo. I have a feeling when the long-awaited group album drops it's going to be a real problem for rappers out there. Vandal's solo offering G.O.D.S will also be dropping in 2017, check out 1000th Prestige in the interim – it's seriously dope!

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