The summer is drawing to a close in the UK and although the weather in the summer months may not always reach the levels that we want it too, the UK music scene releases this summer have, yet again, not disappointed. A very successful summer for the UK Urban music scene has left artists and fans alike with much to celebrate. Here we have accumulated a list of five key things we learnt between May and August.
More History Will Be Made
This summer’s Glastonbury Festival saw history being made before it had even started. Stormzy became the first UK Black artist and more so, first UK Rapper to headline one of the famous festival’s nights. Stormzy put on a show that will be remembered amongst the music scene for years to come. Over the years, the UK scene has developed more and more and those developments have come with some stick out moments and the night of Friday 28th June 2019, was no exception. There were so many elements to the show that made it so special. From bringing out Dave and Fredo to perform their track “Funky Friday” to then Stormzy himself reeling off a long list of UK artists names to pay homage to the whole scene. This was Stormzy’s night but as a collective, Stormzy made sure, it was the UK scene’s night. A scene that has always been left to the underground and never fully respected by the hierarchies is finally getting the recognition and respect that it deserves. Dave’s performance also gained viral attention during his performance of “Thiago Silva”. No other genre or scene has had such a rise like the UK Urban music scene and this historical moment highlights that the sky’s the limit. There is no reason why other artists can not follow in Stormzy’s footsteps and the scene can continue to create history, not just this summer but for the foreseeable future.
We Have Been Spoilt For Choice
A number of projects were released between the months of May and August, with many of them being highly anticipated debut projects. Back in May, MoStack dropped his debut album Stacko. This was followed Nafe Smallz debut project Good Love and K Trap’s Magic in June. Burna Boy released African Giant in July which included a number of global collaborations. In the very same month, Jay1 also dropped a debut project entitled One Wave. Then, Headie One, Aitch, Kano, WSTRN and Blade Brown all dropped projects during August. Headie One and Aitch dropped their debut albums, Music X Road and Aitch2O EP respectively. Kano arrived back with his huge album Hoodies All Summer and WSTRN followed up their 2016 WSTRN Season Vol.1, with their Vol.2 of the 2016 title. Blade Brown dropped the fourth version of his Bags and Boxes EP. The question on many people’s minds though would be “Who had the best project?”. Although there has been other projects released this summer, if we were to just look at the previously mentioned ones, it is actually extremely difficult to pinpoint the “best” project. Forgetting the fact that answers to such a question are very subjective, the other facts remain. Many of these artists have released different types of projects, as well as being different types of artists, all at different parts of their careers which throughs a big curve ball into the question. Aitch is one of the newest artists in the scene currently where as the likes of Burna Boy and Kano have years of experience, particularly the latter. Kano is obviously one of the pioneers of the UK scene and a complete project from him is almost expected. Many people may have thought WSTRN would fall off when Akelle was sent to prison. Since then, they have continued dropping heat and making sure they’re remaining relevant. WSTRN Season Vol. 2 is a complete album with many R&B ballads and diversity but comparing it to a Blade Brown or Aitch EP does not make any sense.
The Charts Were Taken Over, Again and Again…
History was made this year with Dave & Fredo’s “Funky Friday” becoming the first UK Rap record to reach number 1 in the charts. It was not that long ago when chart positions for the UK Urban scene’s artists seemed like a far distant planet away. This summer proved that the scene is now finally on that planet. Following on from Dave & Fredo’s success, Stormzy started off the summer months with a Number 1 for “Vossi Bop” at the start of May. During the same week, Russ and Tion Wayne’s “Keisha & Becky” and Dave’s “Location” featuring Burna Boy also sat within the Top 10. Over the course of the summer months, a number of songs would go on too enter the Top 100 but even more so, many songs would sustain their place amongst the Top 20 and Top 10. Hardy Caprio’s & DigDat’s “Guten Tag” achieved a Top 20 entry during May. Skepta “Greaze Mode” featuring Nafe Smallz, DaBeatFreakz “Motorola” crept up the charts during May, as well as Digga D’s “No Diet”. June saw the entry of NSG’s “OT Bop”, Mo Stack’s “Shine Girl” and “Stinking Rich”, Skepta featuring J Hus “What Do You Mean” and AJ Tracey’s “Ladbroke Grove”. At the end of June, Young T & Bugsey’s “Strike Me A Pose” featuring Aitch reached the Top 30. The last week of June and first week of July saw Jay1’s “Mocking It” and “Kilos” by Bugzey Malone & Aitch reach Top 20 positions. In July, “Vossi Bop” slowly dropped chart positions but at the same time, Stormzy had his next single, “Crown” to come and take its place. “Strike Me A Pose” and “Ladbroke Grove” continued to rise in the charts. Mid July saw the introduction of MIST’s “So High” featuring Fredo and towards the end of July, “Ladbroke Grove” breaks the Top 10. “So High”, new entries “I Spy” by Krept & Konan and D-Block Europe’s “Home P*ssy” made the Top 20. Furthermore, a re-emergence of “Location” by Dave featuring Burna Boy certified it as one of the most consistent hits of the year as it entered the Top 20 once again. Mid August still saw “Ladbroke Grove” keeping its place and Aitch’s “Taste (Make It Shake)” made the Top 10 as a new entry. Since the end of August, AJ Tracey and Aitch have kept their places in the Top 10 whilst Headie One’s “Both” has also sustained itself in the Top 20. It must be reiterated that, there is a large number of other tracks that made the Top 50 and Top 100 which showcases how much airtime and streaming plays the UK Rap, R&B, Drill and Afrobeats scenes are really getting. The summer months were truly taken over by the whole genre.
Headie One Can Take Drill All the Way
Although it is hard to pick the best project, it is very easy to state that Headie One’s Music X Road has and will have the biggest effect on the scene. One of the biggest Drill rappers in the UK scene currently, Headie One was able to create a debut album that infused Drill, Rap and R&B together that really created a project that could not be ignored. The whole album offered a diverse amount of music that sent a message to Drill critics and doubters. Headie One has come on leaps and bounds since his break out hit “Know Better” featuring RV in 2017. The rapper, along with many others, has pushed the controversial genre of music to the masses and even more impressively, the Official Music Charts. Although some people may argue that Music X Road is not an album that is covered in typical Drill vibes, it surely shows the ability that many Drill rappers have to be diverse in their sound. More importantly, Music X Road highlights to all the aspiring and current Drill rappers that their music will get noticed and the genre is not one that can be merely pushed to one side.
Kojo Funds Cannot Be Left Slept On
Kojo Funds has had an interesting 2019. Last year we heard from him on numerous occasions, including his debut album Golden Boy, and the “Dun Talkin'” hit maker was creating tracks in his sleep. This year was a complete contrast with barely hearing pin drop from the Afrobeats singer. In today’s music scene, it is very hard to be an artist that does not release music yet still remains relevant and at the forefront of people’s minds. This shortfall in music lead to many people believing that Kojo Funds had fallen off until his summer hit “I Like” featuring WizKid was released in August. The track pushed any doubters back and reminded music fans what Kojo Funds can/has offered the Afrobeats scene in the UK but also, the scene as a whole. It’s a slight shame that the song had not been released a little earlier as it could have gone down as one of the hits of the summer. Regardless, it proved a point to any doubters…Kojo Funds is still a hit maker that should not be reckoned with and cannot be merely forgotten.