There’s no questioning the fact that commercial FM radio stations do not play the best Hip-Hop music available today. They instead play the most heavily promoted music, which these days, typically sucks. There are hundreds of artists with quality tunes that never get airplay on stations which claim to serve the Hip Hop genre. Access to the internet can show proof of just how many artists with talent exist out there. In fact, the FM radio stations and major record labels have conspired to popularize certain artists who they force onto the mainstream through repetition. Would the top ten rap artists of today really be as popular, if compared to the full spectrum of music that is just as accessible as their own?
The top ten artists only get there through a strategic pattern of marketing and promotion, not because of innate talent. Hiphoppas who want to hear real Hip-Hop are even more disappointed with today’s popular music because it doesn’t represent the underground culture that created it There are many talented emcees with skillful, cultured sounds and concepts which go unheard every day. Because of this, people think Hip-Hop is dead. It’s not dead though. It just survives in places which don’t get much shine time commercially.
Case in point is the UK underground Hip Hop scene. When I hear some of these artists, it takes me back to when emcees were more creative with concepts and wordplay. It also reminds me of how much good hip-hop music is kept from the masses by commercial radio. The UK Hip Hop movement, exemplified by underground label High Focus Records, caters to an eclectic range of rap talent from the masked quartet of emcees known as the Four Owls to their greater collective Split Prophets, which includes a number of other rappers like Res One, Upfront MC, Datkid, Dirty Dike, Flying Monk, Smellington Piff and singers like Rag n Bone Man. When I first heard these brothers recently, I was impressed with the way they choose concepts and organized their delivery in the style of 90’s Golden Era rap music. The main distinction between them and standard American artists today is humility, which brings another level of honesty and introspection in their rhymes. They’re a welcomed relief from the ‘better than everybody’, self-absorbed, wannabe trap-gods plaguing American rap music right now. The personalities on the label are varied, but seem to unify around a common inspiration of classic Hip Hop and weed. Rapper/Producer Leaf Dog is like the RZA of the crew, providing numerous dope beats, but the collective also uses other lesser known producers as well as heavy hitters like DJ Premiere on some of their tracks.
Their music is a testament to the life Hip Hop underground culture birthed in America and spread around the World. Those messages and ideologies still permeate pockets of the Earth that everyday Americans are not familiar with. There are not just pockets of true underground Hip Hop flavor in hidden places across the United States, but also across the ocean in the United Kingdom for instance. But you don’t have to take my word for it; you can listen for yourself below to some of the videos featured this week on shadesradio.com during our British Invasion Broadcast…