AFROSWING; AN EVOLUTION IN THE UK RAP IDENTITY?

Initially a sound associated with a handful of movers, shakers and music-makers operating within the developing realms of the Dancehall and Afrobeats infused Rap stylings of the “Afroswing” variety. Now entering the mainstream consciousness of the British Rap sphere, the continued evolution of the sound is pointing to potential for a new milestone in British Rap music and broader Hip Hop culture.BANGLEZ 1

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– “Hoodstar chillin’ on the block, 10 years from now Steel Banglez’s still be on top…”

– Nines-See You Shining (2018)

“We’re just calling it UK Rap. The reason why it’s not Afro-Bashment is because it’s still got strong elements of Rap. It’s still gutter. It’s not, “have a party all the time”. We’re still rapping. Afrobeats and Bashment are very ‘sing-y’..” Was Steel Banglez’s thoughts on the sound in an interview early last year (when ‘Afro-Bashment’ was the front running title of the moment).

With so many dimensions and variations to this sound – particularly Steel Banglez own style which regularly harks back to his UKG influences. To call it UK Rap would be technically accurate, but disregard it’s fresh and contemporary “British” flavour. So, now widely recognised as Afroswing, the catalogue of available music is becoming even more diverse in style. With many vocals in recent months – and a lot of production – crawling closer to the realms of “Rap”, with lyricism becoming a more common element of the songs that are informing the development of the scene.

The groove and drum patterns of the Afrobeats and Bashment styles are still prevalent. But – looking at a cross section of recent releases – the tone of the overall songs are increasingly becoming less “singy”, and noticeably more lyrical. A trend that is set to continue. With Grime MC’s like AJ Tracey charting with his latest single ‘Mimi’, Loski’s lethal release ‘Forest Gump’, Chip’s 4/20 collaboration with Mist – ‘Marijuana’ and quintessential Rappers like Nines and Ratlin getting patterned with songs like ‘Bando Poppin’ and ‘See You Shining’ in concert with J Hus, MoStack, Sneakbo and Tion Wayne’s continued contributions to the game.

tion

-Side note: Tion’s currently doin’ bird for a madness outside a nightclub late last year. So his contributions to the game are on pause for now. But he should be back on road and back in the mix later this year… More info on the madness HERE

“I’m into the whole ‘Afrowave ‘ thing… I really like it, but if I’m honest after about 15-20 songs I get a bit bored. It’s on a very similar sonic…. Lotto Boyzz I think are great. I love the wave, I love the sound, I love the energy, I just get a bit bored when it’s all singing…”. was Hattie Collins view in an interview discussing the sound earlier this year, expressing similar feelings felt by the broader British Urban Music community…

benny

– Say nuffin…

Looking at the scene right now, it seems reasonable to presume that more lyrical songs with the same sonic would open up a new dimension for the scene and in some regards give UK Rap something it’s never had before; a sound that is distinctly ours and one with greater potential to transcend the Transatlantic market. Ironically at a time when it comes across strongly that the US is a significantly less sought after market. With many musicians seeming quite content with their dominance of the UK, along with considerable interest from Europe and the rest of the world – largely down the combined achievements of the leading lights of the Grime scene.

Some may argue that Grime is our respective sound… and it is. But in terms of cultural attributes- it’s far closer to the realms of Dancehall than it is to Rap or Hip Hop when you consider the cultural significance of reloads, “riddims” and dubs; to name a few examples… Grime is ours, but it comes from a completely different place and represents a different culture – as it should.

So, when considering recognised Rap styles; New York – ‘Boom-Bap’. LA – ‘G Funk’. Texas – ‘Screw’. Bay Area – ‘Hyphy’. Although our biggest Urban export today is ‘Grime’, in terms of a quintessential “Rap” sound, the way things are going – one day – ‘Afroswing’ could be kinged.

The scene and sound is growing legs and despite the leaps and bounds Grime has made in terms of global popularity, Afroswing sonically and culturally is far less alien, and far more digestible to a global audience. And as a result we should expect as more rappers adopt the sound, the prevalence of the “less singy” stylee that marries lyricism and dance appeal levels up in the homeland and garners monumental global attention and accolades.

POSTED BY: @TIMI.WATSONROSE

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