Whether it’s British rap or American rap, hip hop is a musical genre that’s grown a lot since it got its start in 1980. Rap is hugely popular in both the US and the UK.
Rap and hip hop are genres with a history of being sidelined and, despite efforts by the industry and society, has always found a way to break into the mainstream. We owe it to ourselves to honour it.
In this series of articles, Superprof is looking at the best American and British rappers and a few of the most popular rap songs.
The Biggest British Rap Songs
There are far too many British rap artists and great songs to name just a few in this article, but here are a few to get you started.
J Hus - Did You See
Did You See was J Hus' first top-ten single going platinum in 2017. The single featured on the rapper's debut studio album Common Sense, a critically acclaimed gold album.
Roots Manuva - Witness (1 Hope)
This song was the first single from Roots Manuva's second album Run Come Save Me and while it wasn't a huge commercial success, it is arguably the song to start with if you're checking out the artist.
The Streets - Fit But You Know It
The Streets don't sound a lot like many of the artists on this list, but this track is certainly worth listening to if you're trying to broaden your musical tastes or just listen to something a little different.
Skepta - Shutdown
For many, Skepta is one of the most successful British rappers and since his debut album in 2007, he's gone from strength to strength. The track Shutdown was featured on his fourth studio album Konnichiwa and won the MOBO Best Song Award in 2015.
The Best British Rappers
Again, there are far too many great rappers from the UK to mention them all, but here are a few rap artists that you might want to check out to get you started.
Hijack were one of the first British hip hop groups to have any sort of success with their releases Hold No Hostage and Doomsday of Rap in 1989 getting noticed by Ice-T, who subsequently signed them to his Rhyme Syndicate record label.
Skepta is a British hip hop and grime artist whose career started in the early 00s with performances on pirate radio. He released his debut album, the confusingly named Greatest Hits in 2007.
Tinie Tempah grew up in London and released his debut album Disc-Overy in 2010 after his singles Pass Out and Written In The Stars both went to #1. Similarly, the album also reached #1 and we should also mention that the single Frisky reached #2.
Stormzy is one of those British rappers whose success can easily be classified as mainstream. At the time of writing, he's released two studio albums, both of which went to #1, and two #1 singles. His first massively successful track was Big for Your Boots, which was on his debut studio album Gang Signs & Prayer.
He's won BET Awards, Brit Awards, Global Awards, GQ Men of the Year Awards, MOBO Awards, and MTV Europe Music Awards, to name a few. Whether you judge an artist by their critical success or commercial success, Stormzy checks all the boxes.
Dizzee Rascal debuted in 2003 with his Boy in da Corner album and is widely considered one of the most important grime artists. Despite a troubled childhood and multiple school expulsions, he found success with his debut album and the singles I Luv U and Fix Up, Look Sharp.
Who Are the Biggest American Rap Artists?
Rap was born in the USA. It developed in the 80s and by the 90s, was in full swing. Since then, it’s only become more popular. Here are some of the biggest American rappers of all time.
Born in Harlem, New York City, Tupac Shakur is one of rap’s biggest stars. His career spanned less than a decade, but he’s arguably the biggest West Coast rapper of all time and also famous for his feud with the Notorious B.I.G.
Despite his murder in 1996, 2Pac left behind an excellent discography with gems such as Dear Mama, So Many Tears, Hail Mary, and Changes.
“If you dream and you believe, you can do it.” - Sean Combs
Whether you call him Sean Combs, P. Diddy, Diddy, Diddy Dirty Money, or Puff Daddy, he’s still one of the biggest rappers in the world. Producer, rapper, businessman, and actor, Puff Daddy is also famous for helping launch Biggie Small’s career.
With his first album in 1997, Puff Daddy gained a lot of success with Grammy Awards and MTV Video Music Award nominations. With tracks like Coming Home, Last Night, and I’ll Be Missing You, he showcased his talent as a rapper and a producer.
Jay-Z or Shawn Corey Carter is a music producer and rapper with a hugely successful career and also known for marrying Beyoncé. As one of the biggest hip hop artists in the US, Jay-Z has had a prolific career that started way back in the 1990s.
While Jay-Z is known for his solo work, he’s also collaborated with many different artists’ tracks including:
- Numb/Encore with Linkin Park
- Otis with Kanye West
- Crazy in Love with Beyoncé
- Niggas in Paris with Kanye West
- Apeshit with Beyoncé
- Umbrella with Rihanna
- Suit and Tie with Justin Timberlake
- Monster with Kanye West, Rick Ross, Bon Iver, and Nicki Minaj
- Empire State of Mind with Alicia Keys
- Big Pimpin with UGK
The Best American Rap Songs
As you can see, America has no shortage of talented and successful rappers. With so many great rappers, producers, and labels, it’s hard to pick just a few great rap songs, but here are some of them.
2Pac feat Dr. Dre - California Love
Of all the rap songs in the world, this is one of the biggest and features the great 2Pac and Dr. Dre. California Love is a collaboration between the two artists and is a fine example of West Coast rap.
Eminem - Lose Yourself
With all his success, it’s hard not to mention Eminem and one of his biggest songs. While My Name Is, The Real Slim Shady, and Without Me are all very popular, Lose Yourself is a whole different genre of rap.
Megan Thee Stallion - Savage
Megan Thee Stallion is a newer artist from Houston who’s already won a Grammy Award at just 26 years old. She’s also known for her hits like Body, Cry Baby, or WAP with Cardi B.
Now you should know a little bit more about rap and hip hop on both sides of the pond. To find out more, check out our other articles. You could even get private tutorials in rap and hip hop from one of the tutors on Superprof. There are different types of tutoring available and since each comes with pros and cons in terms of the teaching and the cost, you'll want to think carefully about what's right for you and your budget.
Face-to-face tutorials are often the most cost-effective, but they also tend to be the most expensive per hour. This is because you're paying for a tutor to tailor the sessions to you, your level, and what you want to learn. Similarly, a lot of tutors will travel to their students and have more expenses to deal with than those offering online or group tutorials.
Online tutorials are a good option if you live rurally or can't find any suitable tutors in your local area. These tutors can still offer tailored sessions but can charge less as they don't have to travel to their students and can schedule more sessions each week. As long as you have a decent internet connection, webcam, and microphone, you can enjoy private online tutoring from tutors all over the world.
Group tutoring is an excellent option if you're on a tight budget. While you won't get as much one-on-one tuition from your tutor, you usually end up paying less as the cost of the tutor's time and expertise is split amongst all the students in attendance. If you and some friends, family members, or colleagues, are interested in learning more about music or rap, group tutoring could be a fun and rewarding experience.
Before you start contacting tutors, it's a really good idea to think carefully about the type of tutoring that you're after and what you're looking for in a tutor. Make a list of your requirements and keep them in mind as you search for tutors on Superprof. Once you have a few tutors in mind that meet your requirements, you can start getting in touch with them and discussing how and what you'd like to learn.
Remember that many of the tutors on the Superprof website offer the first lesson for free. Use these free sessions to try out a few different tutors before deciding on which one would be right for you. Remember to keep your requirements in mind when chatting with potential tutors and remember that since you're probably going to be spending a decent amount of time with them, it's important that you get on well with them.