Hip hop in Scotland - Taking the mic

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Young Fathers

Young Fathers

David Pollock selects ten of Scotland’s brightest hip hop talents

Combining fierce vocal ability with commercial versatility, fast-rapping Glaswegian Sumati Bhardwaj has opened for Basement Jaxx and Aphex Twin, and performed diverse styles such as reggae with Mungo’s Hi-Fi and folk alongside The Burns Unit.

Around since the days of the Scotland Yard MCs, Profisee is a solo artist and the former co-promoter of Edinburgh’s Volume dubstep and grime night. His partner Ema Johnson used to be involved there too and the pair now record together as Cloak X Dagger.

Starting out as a boyband in their teens, the Edinburgh trio have grown up (sorta) and grabbed attention in NME, Front, Arena and of course nabbed a List cover for themselves. The commercial face of Scottish hip hop, they’re a crew of effortless party-starters.

A throwback to the good ol’ days when a rap single wasn’t a rap single without a massive string sample from an old soul track over the top, Edinburgh producers Fly-T and Professa Fresh make fine music. Also check out their DJ sets around the country and their debut single on Mungo’s Hi-Fi.

Influenced as much by Dr Dre and Ice Cube as they are desi and bhangra sounds, Glaswegian brothers Raj and Pops are fixtures on the local scene and set to go further. Bobby Friction is a fan and they’re signed to the Panjabi MC-breaking Nachural label.

This isn’t a time for Sugababes and Girls Aloud, is it?’ asks Northern Xposure’s Eunice Olumide. ‘But that’s what the bourgeoisie want us to listen to. As long as we don’t think about reality while they make their money and ruin the economy and the economies of other poor countries suffering in the world.’
Not the kind of thing a Scots-Nigerian girl from a council estate in Edinburgh’s Sighthill should be concerning herself with, right? Wrong, of course. The only one of her peer group who went to university, Olumide would travel to London in her mid-teens and rapped on the same stages as a pre-fame Mike Skinner and Estelle. She’s toured the world since with her older brother Ibrahim and the Northern Exposure crew – a bunch of kids from the local area who help with performing, production and crewing. ‘This band isn’t a youth club,’ says Olumide, ‘though sometimes it feels like it’.

Call it ‘aquacrunk’ if you like, but there’s more than a bit of hip hop in the squelchy, space-adventurer sound of the LuckyMe Collective’s most well-known, Warp-signed artists. Also see; Jay P, The Blessings, Dema, Nadsroic, Mr Copy, Éclair FiFi.

Also on Crystal Wish, the elusive Kyon and Dyems post only childhood photos of themselves on MySpace, but make atmospheric electronic pop with a large amount of Scots-accented MCing going on.

The Glasgow-born, Bronx-raised MC does big, beefy, high-gloss jams and raised his profile previously having collaborated with N.O.R.E. and Busta Rhymes.

Mates Bobby and Olly from Edinburgh work together and separately on a range of old-school productions with an electro edge, which are earning them work with artists like Prince Po and Sha Stimuli. Bobby’s older brother is in Found, which is a good eclecticism indicator.

Do you rate someone else’s local hip hop skills? Post a comment.

Breakin' Convention

The popular hip hop dance theatre festival returns with top names and local acts. Pre-show entertainment from 6pm.


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1. Scottish Hip Hop......14 May 2009, 10:05pm Report

Yo Love To All You Guys. But Who Every Wrote This, knows nothing about Scottish Hip Hop.
Do some Research next time


2. THE TRUTH15 May 2009, 9:59am Report

Your article on Scottish Hip-hop is an injustice to the people trying to push Scottish hip-hop further. I’d urge you to do at least a tiny bit of research in future. This list should be ignored.

Without disrespect to the mentioned above, Because there is talent in the list, its just widely overlooked the Hip-hop scene in Scotland.

3. Remember16 May 2009, 10:31am Report

This list is SHOCKING.

David Pollock - have you heard Scottish Hip Hop?


4. breakbeat27 May 2009, 2:47pm Report

People in scottish hiphop are arrogant beyond belief.Go to any hmv store,look at the hiphop section and see the scottish acts compared to london acts.Scottish hiphop is just a parochial scene just accept the truth or go to hmv and call me a liar.

5. Scottish Hip Hop......8 Jun 2009, 9:42pm Report


Lol look in hmv. Aye i would look if i was after some scottish R&B
Real hip hop is not for sale its free ;)
Do it for the love .. Youtube that ,ish the Yanks LOVE it :D

6. onceavidfan9 Jun 2009, 12:49pm Report

I have been highly amused by the reaction of certain members of the hiphop community over this. To claim that the writer cannot know Scottish Hip-Hop because he has missed certain people off his list is arrogant and ignorant to the core, regardless of what you think of the artists included. What's funny is that no-one seems to have noticed this list isn't even a 'top ten', its just a list of ten artists the writer considers bright hopes for the scene (even if Hydro has been included). The responses to this on the linked forum actually highlights the main problem with the scene as I see it. Artists at the forefront of pushing the scene (eg Hud Mo) make music for the people, pushing artistic integrity while keeping the party alive. People who have been offended by not making this list make music for their peers and mates, with no consideration for what the vast majority of the listening public want to listen and loose themselves too. I, as a listener and not an artist, find so much scottish hiphop boring, offensive, depressing, same old same old. I dont want to go to a party and stand with 20 hooded folk who are 'too cool to dance' while some ned tells me how depressed he is. We've all got problems. Just because you have rhyming talent doesn't mean anyone wants to listen to anything you say. What happened to the party? I'll tell you what happened. You stabbed it. Its dead. You killed it. Thanks a bunch.

7. Alice Muir19 Nov 2013, 4:43pm Report

Also check out TLG Magazine's interview with Soom T here >>

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