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10 Best Rap & R&B Songs from Britain: February 2021

Ghetts and Giggs, slowthai and Skepta, Headie One and Burna Boy, and more make up the best hip-hop and R&B coming out of the UK this month.
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Best of Britain is a monthly column highlighting the best new songs from rising UK artists on Audiomack. Listen to and favorite our UK RAP and UK R&B playlists, which include these selections and more. This article previously appeared on Audiomack World.

Ghetts — “Crud” feat. Giggs

Grime avant-gardist turned emcee metricist Ghetts released his long-awaited major-label debut, Conflict of Interest, in February, 15 full years after his first mixtape. A towering masterclass in the art of rhyme, the UK rap landmark culminated with “Crud,” a collaboration with Giggs which delivered handsomely in polluted couplets—“If I’m out of line, there’s a Reason my Logic ain’t Cubase/My new ting talking about ex men, I don’t care about X-men unless they can mutate.”

Fredo — “Money Talks” feat. Dave

Fredo returned in February with his second album, Money Can’t Buy Happiness, featuring the standout single “Money Talks,” a collaboration with Santan Dave. Going back-to-back over heavenly trap production from Dave himself, the West-South London connection untethers savory bars from the upper atmosphere, with Dave tipping the braggadocious scale with an eminent travel flex—“Baby, I go Heathrow more than your man goes petrol station.”

James Vickery — “Somewhere, Out There”

Soul crooner James Vickery overcomes loneliness with his languid ode to lonely hearts and prospective love, “Somewhere, Out There.” Championing his inner peace over a restful neo-soul backdrop, the Londoner gently gestures to an unknown future partner, dreaming up romantic visions of blissful married life for confined singles and apathetic couples alike.

ShaSimone — “Supersize”

ShaSimone’s seething debut single, “Supersize,” is a self-possessed statement of the intent from the rising East London emcee. Unhanding calculated bars over a hulking sub-bass riddim, Sha negotiates a billowing drum sequence with a mesmeric hook to turn “Supersize” into an arresting introduction to the Hackney newcomer.

Digga D — “Bringing it Back” feat. AJ Tracey

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With his artistic freedom at the mercy of the British judicial system, Digga D—who must report his lyrics to police 24 hours prior to releasing a song—continued his ascent to the top of the UK music scene was his Top 5 drill smash, “Bringing it Back,” with AJ Tracey. Exchanging quid-pro-quo crack raps in lieu of court prohibited opp talk, AJ squeezes out a shot at the austere UK government—“I locked up the food for the kids like Boris, and then I let it go like Rashford.

Headie One — “Siberia” feat. Burna Boy

The deluxe edition of Headie One’s acclaimed debut album, EDNA, came complete with a Burna Boy feature on the bando ode “Siberia.” Pinning his nasal cadence to a guitar-driven drill riddim, Headie paves the way with hallmark opp chat before the African giant pours forth harmony, gliding over the acoustic production with typical aplomb—“I’m smokin’ gas like a cylinder, I grip the 50 like Vivica.”

slowthai — “CANCELLED” feat. Skepta

slowthai emerged with his sophomore album, TYRON, in February, preceded by his blue-chip collaboration with grime trailblazer Skepta, “CANCELLED.” Attacking faceless online critics, Skepta leads the charge against cancel culture with a stellar refrain-verse one-two punch, empowering slowthai to cancel any future GRAMMY nominations in style—“thousand grams, fuck the GRAMMYs.

Jaz Karis & Big Tobz — “What You Need”

Jaz Karis’ new single “What You Need” is a smooth slice of acoustic soul from the South London songstress. Tenderly humming her relationship regrets and pleading for clarity over some delicate fingerpicking, young UK rap veteran Big Tobz contributes a sleek counterpoint verse to solidify the good-natured R&B vibes.

Genesis Elijah — “Original” feat. Maxwell D

Genesis Elijah continued his grime spree into February with a boisterous collaboration with Pay As U Go cartel trailblazer Maxwell D, “Original.” The mid-2000s-inspired, post-eski beat banger is produced by Pastor Duchie and Shapes; Gen and Maxwell combine with throwback verses for pre-2020 mature ravers and a sonic nod of the head to Boy Better Know’s classic “Too Many Man.”

Benny Atlas — “Keep You”

Wolverhampton crooner Benny Atlas sustained his fine run of alternative R&B offerings in February with “Keep You.” Spearheaded by a subtle electro-funk synth bassline, the ambient arrangement fashions ample space for Atlas’ lissome vocal to take centre stage with honeyed words of devotion to a loved one.

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