Soundsphere magazine’s top ten alternative hip-hop tunes

By November 18, 2017 Listen, News

The following playlist is what we believe is currently defining the alternative rap world. Some on the come-up, others already well-established, and with more and more people taking the DIY approach to music, the well-cultured movement is only growing further; We’ve listed 10 tracks we hope you’ll indulge in, so eyes peeled and ears pinned….


So, what better way to kick-start the playlist than with the North’s princess of hip/hop and soul IAMDDB (pictured)? ‘PXSSYCAT’ exhibits her unmistakable melody complimented with by a subtle backing beat, allowing her to hypnotise listeners. Hailing from Northern powerhouse Manchester, her growth in the last year has been exponential, with a European tour in December already selling out, I have no doubt you’ll be seeing a lot more of this woman. (Associated acts: 616, Cult Mountain, Black Josh, Sleazy F Baby)

Lord Apex – Bebop (prod. senzo)

Coming in a hot second is Lord Apex; with his almost religious style, cult following, his latest “canticle” ‘Bepop’ has appeased the mases. Combining that softer West Coast sample kit of twangs and twings with a slightly heavier but slow beat has really worked. After being introduced to the Lord late last year, I found it hard not to be sucked in. His effortless marrying of sentences allows for continually relaxed evenings. So whether it’s his notorious and nostalgically filmed ‘fly on the wall’ style ‘Smoke Sessions’ or a simple single, it’s a guaranteed alleviator of stress…

Black Josh Ape – Nice (Feat. Mennis & Dyno)

One of ten excellently executed tracks off the highly anticipated Brexit mixtape by Black Josh Ape. The proud Mancunian has once again proven to us his artistic versatility with the variety of sounds on the mixtape. From the cool electronic samples, we hear on ‘Nice’ to heavy slapping trap beats like ‘Gucci Glasses’ featuring his cousin Sleazy F Baby. Being fortunate enough to hear a sneak preview of his fourth coming album, Black Josh ape is a name that will only continue to grow and make big moves in the months to come.

Yung Lean – Metallic Intuition

After what seemed to be a long break from music, for fans it felt like a lifetime, Yung Lean is back with his new album Stranger. The Swedish rapper seemed to come out from nowhere in 2012 with a sound that completely changed the sound of underground rap music, the fashion that came with as well as creating new alternative lanes within the genre. Part of the Swedish collective Sad Boyz, Yung lean has returned with an album that expresses his dark, unique, sad style. Suggesting the old mysterious Yung Lean we love is back but the journey along the way has taken its toll and a part of the artist with it.

Frankie Stew & Harvey Gunn (FS&HG) – Small Hours

Taking a detour from the more conventional rap sounds into the world of FS&HG, or Frankie Stew and Harvey Gunn; two cool musical cats from sunny, sunny Brighton. This clever duo ke ep it all in house (well bar the odd Genesis sample here and there), and it’s a style which is working. With Stew on the bars and Gunn on the beats, the relationship between them allows for some heartfelt, sincere sounds. This track Small Hours, their final track from their most recent release ‘A Walk In Winter’ showcases their combined talents. Serving Suggestion: Goes great with a large glass of white and olives on any Mediterranean veranda.

The Northaze (Toshiro Steel X Kosi Tides X Jack Jetson) – Iveshowedyouthingsyouainteverseen

You can’t help but get a little excited when you get a Soundcloud notification from The Norf’s haziest assemblage. Steel, Tides and Jetson; Almost sounds like car washing product, and if it were, I’d bet it’d be a damn good one. These boys never fail to impress, real lyrics crafted over real beats, made by real people in real terrace houses… in the real bits. They are hazardously concise over beats, working closely with the kids from 616 (see #6) they’re on job like no others.

With Kosi Tides representing one half of The Northaze (Swish absent on this tune), Toshiro Steel (as the name sort of suggests) repping Sheffield, and Jetson also repping Leeds, they effortlessly exhibit their ability of what I call ‘give-and-go rap’, a sort of relay race of MC’s on a single beat…. It works and they work, hard. So keep your eyes peeled for the North’s saving grace.

Milkavelli – Where’s Olly?

“Everyone’s bare worried about me, they should just get a real hobby, Where’s Olly? It’s like a game of where’s Wally”. A cypher that puts us in Milkavelli’s disturbingly beautiful drug induced world of Xanax, codeine and sex. The single off Milkavelli’s recently released debut album ‘Cult Member’ was followed up by visuals suggesting Milk really does like to go missing. The 616, DVL GNG, Laigon Life, Cult member started to make a name for himself on ‘Don’t Flop’ battle rap channel back in 2008 and since has become one of the forefathers and key influencers for UK underground rap.

Phundo Art – Over Freestyle

The South African native, currently located in Birmingham has risen from the very bottom of Birmingham’s local underground scene, to performing at prestigious festivals like Reading & Leeds all in the space of a year. Over Freestyle, Produced by the talented Ted Loco, has Phundo elegantly mix hard hitting bars with soulful harmonies that slow the track down and make it the sort of song you’d drive off into the sunset listening to whilst thinking to yourself “This looks like a music video”. With the dedicated team Phundo has around him; we can only expect to see more music, visuals and performances from the young South African.

Abra – Bacardi

The Atlanta based artist made an introduction to the stateside music scene with her first official release Fruit. Since then she has continued to grow, signing to Awful Records with fellow artists Father, Ethereal and others, who provided Abra with the platform needed to reach masses on social media. Making music like no other, Abra’s sound captures a euphoric, soulful voice that bellows out over 80’s style disco tracks with a millennial twist of bass, hi hats and snares. When listening to Abra, with visuals behind the vocals it’s perfectly normal to find yourself hypnotized and lost within her mysterious sexualized beauty.

Jay Grande – That’s Right

Last, and by no means least, we have Jay Grande; This hidden gem has only one video online, and only a handful more songs on soundcloud, but they’re sort of all you need. He’s slowly but surely making movements in Birmingham’s local underground scene, performing his first couple of shows in his native city Birmingham to much acclaim. If you’re a fan a straight up rap just laid down over gripping beats, Grande’s your man.

Daniel Farrell – Instagram – _m40a3

Owain Ashton-Jones – Instagram – rarseklartjon