Can UK Rappers Break In America?

 |  April 28, 2011
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YOUNG GURU – HOW TO BREAK AMERICA from DJ SEMTEX on Vimeo.

I checked out this video of DJ Semtex interviewing Young Guru out in the UK. It got me thinking about the chance of the next big rapper coming from UK. After all, he made a sound point in that, at first, NY held a monopoly on rap nationwide. Then new artists from around the nation held consumers interests at various points in history. Now a Canadian entertainer is one of (pop) rap’s biggest acts. When that’s put in perspective it isn’t far fetched to assume the next big sensation won’t come from North America but from another Western, predominately English speaking region. Ergo it’s natural to suggest the UK as the next up.

UK Singers have been successful on US shores for decades. However UK Rappers haven’t fared as well since the genre gained mainstream acceptance overseas. At a glance, rappers from across the pond went from emulating US rap to coming up with their own sound: especially with the UK’s grime scene. Nevertheless either their best records are too “different” for American ears or, as Guru mentioned, the rappers’ accents deter heads from giving it a chance.

There are a few urban UK artists familiar to urban music heads who look abroad like Wiley and Giggs: as mentioned by Young Guru in the flick. But their appeal seems limited to those who venture out to hear them. Granted, they never got a major label push stateside. Still I’m hard pressed to believe Americans would embrace their music at with open arms. For example, Giggs’ cadence clears his accented tone. But I can’t see listeners at large getting over his awkward ad libs. He’s not very popular in his homeland either so that’s another deterrent.

More importantly, many of them opened up to doing crossover albums. For instance, Dizzee Rascal’s club/pop oriented Tongue In Cheek may have turn heads if it had an honest shot in the states. It’s the best selling album of his career and conveniently fits with the US top charting pop record formula of providing sugary, synthed-out party anthems. What’s more is his model was replicated by plenty of his peers. Tinie Tempah followed the plan to a T and actually eclipsed him in terms of sales and overall momentary popularity. Truth be told, Tinie has a shot at crossing over in the states via utilizing Dizzee’s “Underground MC turned radio friendly rapper” model. It’s paid off in spades in England, his lyrics and delivery are easy to understand and US listeners already warmed up to his music. Thus it wouldn’t be surprising if he etched out a lane for himself in America with the same strategy.

Riding the pop/club wave with a European twist, pending Tinie’s reception to his US debut album and singles performance, may be the current road map for UK rappers looking to expand to US shores. Time will tell if it’ll be a fail-safe method since it’s too early to assess as well as it’s a limiting scope towards gaining recognition. Nonetheless, I wouldn’t be surprised if more of the UK’s premiere rap acts broke through using the aforementioned outline.

  • FOSHO

    Tea and Crumpets NIGGAA!!!

  • http://twitter.com/SamPattillo iHipHop Sam

    One of the best comments I have ever seen on the site.