Manchester is home to a large number of the UK’s best rappers. With its own distinctive sound, and a rapidly growing list of rappers to its name, Manchester is undoubtedly the rap capital of the north of England. Let’s dive in and discover Manchester’s best rappers.
Children of Zeus
Stradling hip-hop and neo-soul, Children of Zeus are one of the original Manchester hip-hop acts.
Comprised of producer and rapper Konny Kon and singer Tyler Daley, it’s fair to say that the duo lay the foundations for Manchester’s rich rap scene today.
Their reggae-infused ‘Hard Work’ from their 2018 album Travel Light is a chill masterpiece. Make sure you also check out their biggest hit, the down-tempo ‘Smoke With Me.’
KinKai is a rapidly rising Manchester rapper with roots in Jamaica and Sierra Leone. His conscious lyrics touch on economic, social, and family issues.
Listen to his 2020 album A Pennies Worth, which is rich with collaborations from others in the scene including Children of Zeus and [ K S R ]. ‘Top Down’ is especially worth a listen.
The creme de la creme of KinKai’s catalogue is his 2017 record Mellow Mermaids and Malibu. With production from Manchester producer and singer Glue70, ‘Roll the Dice’ is pure head-nodding quality.
[ K S R ]
[ K S R ]’s 2021 EP Peace + Harmony shows him at his best yet. Leaning towards atmospheric and mellow neo-soul, ‘Lily Apart’ is a highlight.
Clocking in at just under 17 minutes, the record is brimming with lush lo-fi synths and soulful melodies.
Aitch is a Manchester rapper who has truly blown-up in recent months.
With a significant global fanbase, the young rapper is now in possession of a Brit nomination, a MOBO Award, and numerous others, as well as collabs with the likes of Young T & Bugsey and Stormzy under his belt.
‘Straight Rhymez’ is the track that first put Aitch on the map, but check out ‘Rain’ or ‘Taste (Make It Shake)’ for a taste of where his sound is at today.
IAMDDB is the moniker of rapper and singer Diana De Brito. Blending jazz and hip-hop, she describes her music as ‘urban jazz.’
Call it urban jazz, call it chill-hop, or call it neo-soul – IAMDDB pretty much epitomises Manchester’s distinctive jazz hip-hop crossover sound.
For a taster, check out the soulful lofi single ‘Urban Jazz,’ and delve deeper with her 2019 album Swervvvvv.5.
Bugzy Malone is another rapper from Manchester who has found global acclaim in recent years.
Known as the first successful grime rapper to hail from the city, his lyrics deal with the gritty world of violence and crime that he saw around him growing up.
Get a taste of his music from ‘Beauty and the Beast’ off his 2016 album Doing Time, and make sure to check out his bars on Tion Wayne’s ‘Body.’
Shotty Horroh built his name as a battle rapper. After signing to Sony Music Canada, Shotty moved to Toronto – but his roots are in Manchester.
Shotty Horroh’s collaborations with deadmau5 colour his tracks with dubstep and bassline. Check out his single ‘Are You Not Afraid’ for a taste of it.
His 2018 album ‘Salt of the Earth’ runs in a completely different direction, blending rap with garage rock. Full credit for the experimentalism which he totally pulls off.
Blending rap, trap, and R&B, Just Banco’s autotuned vocals and experimental aesthetics make him stand out from the established sounds of the Manchester rap scene (check out ‘Sweet Like Sorbet’ for a taste).
Hailing from Trafford, Greater Manchester, Just Banco’s distinctive, futuristic sounds are showcased nicely on his 2018 album The Last Train to Trapan.
Masked Manchester rapper Meekz sits on the boundary between UK drill, grime, and hip-hop.
His 2020 album Can’t Stop Won’t Stop saw him reach significant new heights, with leading singles ‘Like Me’ and ‘Can’t Stop Won’t Stop’ painting stark grimey moods.
Hailing from Gorton, Manchester is such a part of Meekz identity that he even goes by the name Meekz Manny.
‘Underground artist’ and ‘cult hero’ are sort of words you’d use to describe Manchester rapper Robin Knightz.
Touching on trap and soundcloud rap, her vibrant, playful sound is best captured on her single ‘Fiji Drip.’
Originally hailing from Birmingham, Layfullstop has become an important part of Manchester’s rap scene.
Blending jazz and rap, her lyrics are full of positivity and spiritual themes. Check out her gospel-infused 2021 album STiR, which features some ice cold jazz-hop grooves.
If you’re looking for a quick way in, check out her jazz-infused chill-hop track ‘Eyes, Closed’ with Hemai.
After making a name for himself on the scene as a videographer, producer WhyJay encouraged SVMI to work on his own releases.
That little bit of encouragement led to the release of ‘Bait Lies,’ which became an organic viral hit.
With just a few singles to his name, SVMI is one to watch in the Manchester scene. The funky ‘P.O.P (Hold It Down)’ suggests this is an artist who’s not afraid to experiment.
One of the youngest rappers on this list, Nemzzz gives Aitch a run for his money. Describing himself as a natural introvert, Nemzzz has not let age nor social preferences get in the way of his musical ambition.
His deft flows are woven on top of beats influenced by hip-hop, trap, and afrobeats. Check out his biggest single ‘Elevate’ for a taste of what he can do.
Born in Manchester and with roots in Algeria, Geko’s distinctive music draws on UK, African, and Arabic influences, with processed melodic rap vocals.
Check out Geko’s big hit ‘Yo Darlin’’ with NSG, which leans heavily into afrobeats and afroswing. If you like the vibe then graduate onto his 2019 album 22 for a full LP of these smooth, swinging, autotuned rap tracks.
Hailing from Rusholme, Manchester rapper Mastermind’s smooth, autotuned, trap-influenced-rap has been gaining serious traction in recent months.
Check out the big crazy melodies on his 2020 single ‘War’ with Bandokay. If you enjoy the vibes, dig into his single ‘Wave Time’ for big summer vibes.
Header image credit: [ K S R ] by Maya Mothi