The British Are Rapping!

(Getty/Venla Shalin/Contributor)

Cast your mind back to the 1990s. It was a simple time for hip-hop. Back then, it was an either-or kind of deal. East Coast vs. West Coast, Bad Boy vs. Def Jam, Biggie vs. Tupac, Puff Daddy vs. Suge Knight. Yeah ok, there was the Southern scene, but basically, you could just ignore OutKast and Arrested Development and you were back to the two-party system.

Nowadays things are a little different. Atlanta is a key player, as is New Orleans, Houston, Detroit, and you’ve even got bloody Canadian’s joining in! Basically, there’s a lot of people rapping these days, and you can kind of find something for everyone.

Something you might not be aware of though, is that the British have gotten pretty good at it. Maybe you like British accents, maybe you want to impress someone with your knowledge, I don’t know what your deal is, I don’t know you. Either way, here are some of my favorite British rappers for you to check out.

Ocean Wisdom

A lot of British rap music over the past twenty or thirty years hasn’t necessarily been hip-hop music; genres like jungle, garage, and grime have taken a lot of the limelight. But in the past few years there has been a serious rise in straight-up hip-hop, with the record label High Focus leading the charge. Arguably the stand out artist from the High Focus roster is Brighton’s Ocean Wisdom.

Ocean dropped his debut album Chaos 93 in 2016 and his debut single, “Walkin’,” gained him international attention when he took Eminem’s title of the world’s fastest rapper, somehow delivering 4.45 words per second over an incredible 3 minutes 47 seconds.

This year, he is back with a new album, Wizville, that features some titans of the UK hip hop scene, Rodney P, Roots Manuva, Jehst, and even features a cameo from Wu Tang’s own Method Man. Definitely check out the debut album, but for now listen to new single “Revvin’,” featuring grime legend Dizzee Rascal.

Loyle Carner

Similar to Ocean Wisdom in that his music is hip-hop through and through, Loyle Carner is another star on the rise in the UK scene. If you like your hip-hop to be wholesome, then this is the guy for you – not like Fresh Prince wholesome either. Loyle does say cuss words.

It’s just that this guy loves his family (his mum was his date to the Brit Awards in February), he respects women (he threw a man out of his show for groping a crowd surfer) and he is socially conscious too (he teaches disadvantaged youths to cook through a scheme he created called Chilli Con Carner), and it all comes through in his music.

His music is heart wrenchingly honest, raw and real. Songs about wanting a sister (“Florence”), missing his dad (“BFG”), and worrying about talking to girls (“+44”) are complimented by classic hip-hop themes of ambition (“Ain’t Nothin’ Changed”). Generally, he is a great lyricist, has great beats, and seems to be a really good guy too.

M.I.A.

You’ve probably heard songs by M.I.A. over the past ten years, and it’s probably fair to say she’s one of the more successful exports. Songs like “Paper Planes” and “Bad Girls” have been global hits that have featured in movies and commercials (that’s how you know they’re good). As a result, you might be forgiven for thinking that she has just a couple of bangers and that’s all. But you’d be wrong if you thought that. She’s now released 5 albums that are packed full of quality.

On Kala (arguably her most famous record), M.I.A. tackles a range of social issues, whilst also sampling a very diverse range of music, from The Clash and Pixies to Ilaiyaraaja and The Wilcannia Mob. Her influences are vast and wide, and that comes through regularly in her music, and just listening to an M.I.A. album can introduce you to a range of music you’ve never heard before, or show you something you’re familiar with in a totally new light.

My personal favorite comes from her debut album Arular, the song “Sunshowers” just, it just does it for me.

Roots Manuva

Arguably one of the most influential trip-hop artists from the UK scene is Roots Manuva. His influence is far-reaching. It’s been argued that his music was a precursor to the grime scene and in 2014 Vice said that his debut album (1999’s Brand New Second Hand) is still the best thing to come out of UK hip-hop.

In the late 1990s, Roots Manuva did something that a lot of other British rappers had failed to do to that point. He made Britishness something to rap about. While the East and West Coast scenes in America were rapping about slinging drugs and shooting people, Roots was able to bring a sense of authenticity to his music by rapping about cheese on toast and drinking pints of bitter.

Probably his most famous and successful song was “Witness (1 Hope)” from his 2001 album Run Come Save Me. Be warned: Once you listen to this you’re going to want to be English.

Stormzy

Grime has had a few artists breakout and hit the mainstream in the past 15 years or so – the likes of Wiley, Lethal Bizzle, and Dizzee Rascal are some of the more recognizable names from the scene. But probably the biggest of them all is the current darling of the UK rap scene, Stormzy.

Not only has he had a slew of radio hits, but his debut album (Gang Signs and Prayers) was the first Grime album to peak at number one in the UK album charts, getting certified Platinum in the UK within a year of its release.

Part of the reason he has enjoyed the success he has is because he has a very level-headed, socially conscious voice that he puts towards good and popular causes. Calling out the prime minister in an award acceptance speech in February this year, for example.

Obviously, check out his album, but some of his best stuff is from his early demos and EPs. For example, “Not That Deep” from 2014 EP Dreamer’s Disease.

Kate Tempest

To round this off, let’s talk about something slightly different. Kate Tempest isn’t really a hip-hop artist. She is a poet and she is a spoken word rapper, and she is incredible. She is one of those artists that has such a way with words that you can close your eyes and just let her paint a landscape with her lyrics.

Her debut album, Everybody Down, was nominated for the Mercury Prize in 2014, but arguably, the 2016 follow up Let Them Eat Chaos is an even stronger piece. Tempest is a playwrite too, and you can tell when you listen to Let Them Eat Chaos. There is a cast of characters that repeat throughout, there is an atmospheric, dream-like quality to the beats, and her softly delivered bars penetrate your mind perfectly. If you let it, Let Them Eat Chaos is the sort of album that can change the way you hear music.

Some of the standout tracks are probably “Ketamine for Breakfast,” “Europe is Lost,” and “Breaks,” but the album closer, “Tunnel Vision,” is the one that really does it for me.

There is much more British hip-hop out there, and I’ve overlooked an awful lot in this article, so it’s right that I throw out some honourable mentions to the likes of Jehst, The Four Owls, Klashnekoff, The Streets, Wiley, Dizzee Rascal, Rodney P, Skepta, Wretch 32, Professor Green, Doc Brown, Little Simz, Kojey Radical, Fliptrix, Speech Debele, and so many more.

So the world of hip-hop over in North America might want to remember the words of Paul Revere because the British are coming, and we are bringing fire.

Son Surprises Ailing Dad With Tickets To College World Series

Father’s Day is a special time to celebrate your old man, and show him how much you appreciate the role he’s played in your life all these years. Especially since, as we get older, our dads do too, and they may not have many Father’s Days left.

Matt Lea recognized that this Father’s Day, and so went out of his way to make it a memorable one, for both him and his father, both former college baseball players who bonded over the game as Matt was growing up.

Matt’s father Billy suffers from Alzheimer’s Disease, and the symptoms have been accruing rapidly. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t time for more memories, and Matt used the latest Father’s Day as an opportunity to do just that. The 36-year-old drove 12 hours, from Florida to Mississippi, and surprised his parents at their doorstep on Sunday.

He was bearing gifts as well, bringing his dad the jersey of his favorite baseball team, Mississippi State. But that wasn’t all. Matt brought tickets too, to see the College World Series in Omaha in person.

In video of the exchange that Matt posted on Twitter, his dad was clearly taken by surprise.

“I figured it’s probably not good enough just for us to watch the game here,” Matt says in the video as he produces the tickets. “How about we go to Omaha? Do you want to go up to Omaha and watch the College World Series together?”

“Golly,” an emotional Billy responds. “You’re gonna break my heart, here.”

Matt’s gift for his dad received a rapturous response from Twitter, where it’s been liked 46,000 times and retweeted 11,000 times.

Matt seemed as surprised by the response as his dad was by the gift, as everyone who celebrated Father’s Day yesterday knows, there’s nothing better than sharing meaningful memories with your dad, which is exactly what Matt did. An article on Omaha.com details Billy’s baseball past, the initial diagnosis of his Alzheimer’s, the VIP experience Matt treated him too over the weekend.

Matt’s Twitter account showcased the rest.

Happy Father’s Day!

Amazing Street Artist Uses Everyday Objects As His Canvas

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Artist Tom Bob doesn’t see the world like other people. Where you and I might see sewer grates or metal pipes, he sees ghosts and saxophone players.

Check out some of the amazing ways he’s transforming parts of New York City into works of art.

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Check out more of Tom Bob and his unique artwork here.

Father Figures: Heroes

“On February 2, 2011, my daughter was born. The whole thing started pretty normally about 2:30 am or so, my wife woke me up and said, ‘Honey, it is time to go,’ so we went to the hospital in a snowstorm.

That was the easy part.

When they put the belly monitor on her they noticed that the babies heart rate would drop to low whenever my wife would have a contraction. She needed emergency C-section, but the doctor could not make it due to the storm, and when he finally arrived it was rush rush rush!
Well when my daughter Emily did arrive, she had internal bleeding throughout her body, which included two grade 4 brain bleeds. We could not touch her because she would bruise and start bleeding.
They had to life-flight her to the university, where she spent 5 1/2 weeks in the NICU, which left her (you may want to sit down) deaf/blind, with hydrocephalus, a shunt, cerebral palsy, and seizures (at age 6, she needed a baclofen pump because her CP got too bad to handle without it). She is doing great today. She is happy, loves life, and everyone who meets her says that she makes their day and she is beautiful.
To pay back our little community, I became a first responder, mostly a firefighter, but I did help with EMS. Never got my certification, but that is where I found out that in the U.S. we do not have any training for first responders to deal with children with special needs.
I have made it my personal mission to teach first responders about kids with special needs.
I have taken to Emily to every EMS/Fire station in the five counties around me. I have taken her to the police and sheriff’s departments to train them, and now I have a waiting list to get trained.
I don’t know if I am the hero here, but I needed to tell the story.”

– Mike Kuyper

Want to share a story about fatherhood? Email fatherfigures@thedad.com

Low Cost Cosplay Guy Makes The World A Better Place

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Anucha “Cha” Saengchart, the genius behind “Low Cost Cosplay,” has amassed millions of followers with his incredible reimaginings of famous fictional characters.

Whether you’re planning on portraying your favorite anime character or a Marvel superhero, this guy can show you how to do it effectively and on a string budget.

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Can’t get enough? Check out more creative cosplay on his Facebook page.

Dad Turns Photos Of Daughter Into Kickass Album Covers

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When graphic designer Ryan Foster spotted a somber, black and white photo of his daughter, Harper Lou, it instantly reminded him of a blues album cover. He couldn’t help but throw some graphics onto the image to create her first “album” cover himself.

This has led to a series of album covers featuring Harper Lou, many of which look pretty damn legit. She may not be making actual records yet, but her dad will definitely be ready when she does.

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You can find more awesome album covers as well as other design projects by Ryan on his Instagram.

The 5 Hottest Father’s Day Tech Gifts Your Dad Will Ask To See The Receipt For

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Mother’s Day is in the rearview and our annual celebration of everything Dad is fast approaching. Sure, he loved those grilling tongs and Three Stooges boxsets you got him last year. But if there’s one things all dads love, it’s being assured that they’ve genetically passed on their cheapness. Here are 5 Father’s Day gadgets your dad is definitely going to demand the receipt for.

1. A smart speaker

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Source: Amazon

These have become relatively expensive in recent years. This, of course, isn’t going to stop your dad from assuming it set you back several thousand dollars. Your dad just figured out how to make a Facebook profile. He’s gonna need a minute on talking AI servants.

2. A streaming stick

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Source: Roku

“So yeah, you just plug this Roku stick into the TV and you can pretty much watch anything you want.” That’s you. That’s you telling your dad you just spent a boatload of money on a piece of technology. “Instant access to every movie ever made” is your dad’s cue to ask you to retrieve the Best Buy receipt crammed in the console’s cupholder.

3. A dashcam

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Source: Amazon

These are great to have in the event of an accident. Unfortunately, your dad is still under the impression it’s 1999 and all digital cameras cost ten million dollars. Be sure to keep this receipt in your wallet, because this thing’s going right back to the store if it ran you how much he thinks it ran you.

4. An e-reader

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Source: Amazon

What a lovely thought. Your dad, sitting up in bed, every book he could possibly want at his fingertips. What will he read first? A book about World War II? The biography of Henry Ford? The answer is, of course, the receipt for this fancy reading tablet that probably set you back three mortgage payments.

5. A yearly-subscription to a music streaming service

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Source: Spotify

You just want him to be able to listen to the Doobie Brothers whenever he wants. But by his math, if buying a single song on iTunes costs $1, and Spotifly, as he calls it, gives you access to over four million songs, you’ve essentially just bankrupted your family. Good job. Be sure to keep that receipt handy to prove to him that he can still see his grandkids attend college one day.