13 Essential British Rap Albums From 2017

From rising stars making a name for themselves to highly anticipated returns, there’s been so much to keep up with in 2017.

uk rap albums 2017
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uk rap albums 2017

It seems like every year is a good year for British music, but 2017 has been great for British rap in particular. More and more listeners worldwide are taking notice of Britain’s vibrant scene—from grime and UK drill to hip-hop, there’s been no shortage of excellent rap music from the other side of the Atlantic.

From rising stars making a name for themselves to highly anticipated returns, there’s been so much to keep up with in 2017. That’s why it’s the right time to focus on British rap, and in particular, 13 of the fantastic rap albums Britain has given us so far this year across numerous scenes and genres.

Stormzy - 'Gang Signs & Prayer'

Stormzy, 'Gang Signs and Prayer'

Few artists have seen a rise as incredible as Stormzy’s in 2017. Gaining countless endorsements before it even arrived, his debut album Gang Signs & Prayer landed with a thud when it came out earlier this year. It even had the honor of becoming the first grime album to reach number one in the UK, entering the mainstream with more pop friendly songs ("Blinded By Your Grace," Cigarettes & cush") coexisting alongside gritty anthems ("Bad Boys," "Mr Skeng"). There’s something for everyone on Stormzy's debut album, an impressive first project from a burgeoning superstar.

Dizzee Rascal - 'Raskit'


For many, Dizzee Rascal is grime. His legendary debut, Boy in da Corner, became a template which countless others would follow. Say what you will about what followed, especially the more dance-oriented stuff, but his influence and legend has persisted. Raskit is a reminder that he’s still got it, showing off that regardless of the new wave of grime artists, he remains the king. It’s a low-key, no bullshit release that suits Dizzee marvelously.

Blay Vision - 'Turner Ave.'

Blay Vision   'Turner Ave'

Few debut albums this year match the intensity of North London grime MC Blay Vision's. Turner Ave. is relentless from start to finish, offering a portrait of his surroundings and desire to succeed. Addressing the abysmal minimum wage in London on the first track alone, Blay tackles subjects head-on, often leaving carnage in the process. Taking its name from the street he grew up on, Turner Ave. sees Blay taking influence from the sounds from his formative years, from Bone Thugs N Harmony to Sega Genesis soundtracks. Whether it's the production or the lyrics Blay is operating in his own space, making this album one of the most vital pieces of art to come out of London this year.

J Hus - 'Common Sense'

j hus common sense

J Hus is only 21, but he’s already got himself a hit with Common Sense. Filled with variety and some certified bangers ("Common Sense," "Did You See," "Spirit"), he came out of the gate swinging with his debut. Assured and never boring, few debuts are as confident as Common Sense, making this not only one of the best British albums of the year, but also one of the best albums of the year overall. The strength in depth is stunning here—there's no filler—so if you only listen to one British rap album this year, make sure it’s this one.

Nines - 'One Foot Out'

nines one foot out

Not letting his imprisonment back in 2013 slow him down, Nines' official debut debut album, One Foot Out, arrived with significant hype when it dropped earlier this year. Released by one of the UK's most prestigious indie labels, XL Recordings, Nines had a lot to live up to with the sequel to his excellent 2015 mixtape One Foot In. Charting at number 4 in the UK, he more than lived up to his initial promise with an incredibly consistent album that puts his gruff, thoughtful rapping front and center. Nines didn't succumb to pressure, and instead delivered one of the finest British hip-hop records of the year.

Stefflon Don - 'Real Ting'

stefflon don

Even though Stefflon Don's Real Ting technically released late last year, it's way too good to be kept off this list. The Birmingham rapper released the mixtape right after all the album of the year lists dropped, which is exactly why it deserves another moment to shine. Stefflon Don mixes rap, grime, dancehall, and R&B styles in her music, and since this project dropped she's gone on to collaborate with both Lil Yachty and French Montana. There's a reason she's one of the UK's brightest stars, and this mixtape is that very reason.

Ezro - 'Ghost in the Blue'

Ezro ghost in the blue

South London'z Ezro doesn't like to stick to just one sound, constantly switching things up. Ghost in the Blue offers a compelling insight into how he operates, with shifting styles and some stellar production. Close to ambient one second, and then vibrant like an early '90s video game the next, Ezro's own production anchors nearly half the album, and he offers up plenty to dig into on Ghost in the Blue

Loyle Carner - 'Yesterday's Gone'

loyle carner

Providing something very different to the high energy and hard beats of grime or drill, Loyle Carner raps over warm, textured hip-hop beats. His subject matter is deeply personal and his wordplay is top level, making this a dense album that demands careful listening. Loyle has supported artists like Nas, Joey Badass, and MF DOOM in the UK, and one listen to his album will show how uch sense that makes.

Section Boyz - 'Soundcheck'

Section Boyz Soundcheck

South London crew Section Boyz really made an impact when they arrived on the scene a while back. Now they’re on something of a victory lap with their most recent release, Soundcheck. With no features and stellar production, Soundcheck delivers more of what we’ve come to expect from Section Boyz. With their unique perspective and approach to more trap-influenced sounds, no one in the UK is doing what these guys are doing quite as well as they are.

67 - 'Glorious Twelfth'


67 are one of the UK's most promising, and most prominent, drill crews. The six-strong group have been quick to take advantage of their success, refusing to slow down for even a second. Each member has a distinctive approach, but they all blend together remarkably well. As far as blends of sounds from both sounds of the Atlantic go, 67 are one of the best.

Learn more about 67 here.

Wiley - 'Godfather'


Wiley is a undeniable legend and vitally important to the way grime sounds. Google (and his upcoming autobiography) is your friend if you want to dive in to Wiley's long and colorful history, but as grime has another moment in the spotlight it's only right that an originator is there too. Even without any context Godfather is a great album, with Wiley sounding energized and the beats hitting hard. Fellow OGs like Newham Generals, JME, Skepta, and Devlin come along for the ride too but at the end of the day this is all about Wiley, one of the most uniquely talented rappers ever.

Fekky - 'El Clasico'


Fekky makes bangers. The London rapper isn't as much about intricate wordplay as he is about memorable ad libs, catchy hooks, and thumping beats. On his official debut album El Clasico he does provide some variety as on melodic tracks like "Real Ones," but he's at his best when he's turning up. The features from Skepta, Giggs, and Section Boyz fit perfectly, and as everyone is talking about grime, Fekky comes through with another reminder that there are a lot of different styles of rap coming out of the UK right now.

New Gen - 'New Gen'

new gen

If you're looking for insight into the British underground, there's no better starting point than XL's New Gen compilation. Featuring 67, AJ Tracey, Nines, and Avelino among others, the album offers one of the most compelling and comprehensive portraits of UK rap this year. Sitting somewhere between trap, grime, and even R&B at times, New Gen is a remarkably varied compilation of the highest quality.