(Really didn’t know what to title which is why I have a title with no effort put in. If you have any suggestions, I’m open)
As I’ve grown my music tastes have developed (or just straight up changed), I sometimes go through cycles when listening to music but there always happens to be one specific thing that I’m interested in. For a long time that was hip-hop of any kind, in fact I think to an extent I’d be able to say that it still is (as my song of the week posts will tell you) but I’m more invested in stuff that is coming out of the UK which brings me (closer) to my observation.
The UK has a lot of gems, which could be said about a lot of countries but when it comes down to music that I’ve heard from here, I can very clearly hear punchlines, wordplay, occasional lyricism but what I fail to see often is a story. At this point in time when it comes to the urban scene in the UK, two types of music are really popular: grime (which is a genre of its own! Not every song that has rap in it is grime which people need to understand) and drill. I’m not a huge grime fan if I’m honest, whenever I’ve listened to that genre it’s been for flows before anything else and I’m not a huge drill fan either, but given how much drill the UK pumps out, it’s very hard for me not to hear it and the truth is that it all sounds the same.
I like to compare music from the UK to music from the US and when I listen to both of them, I always come to the conclusion that music from the US is much further ahead. There are many reasons for this but one of the biggest things for me are the stories, (this is my observation) music from the UK seems to have a serious lack of concepts, if you look through music from the UK you’ll quickly come to realise that a lot of music videos have people standing outside an apartment and rapping, sometimes they’re different and they involve people driving in a car but it will be some braggadocio shit.
Not to say that this stuff doesn’t come out of the US but even when they’re doing that, the videos seem to have more thought pumped into them. Getting back to my point, I’ve always found it weird that in the UK more people don’t try to add a story to their songs given the talent that is here. It probably isn’t something that matters much given the strides that music from the UK has made in recent years, the thing is that I can’t help but admit that I love a good story, I feel that it shows a level of versatility that pure lyricism can’t do because it’s the rapper using their words to create emotion and put a picture in your head (a picture that you have some freedom to interpret). There’s no doubt that stories add a lot to a genre as well, looking at someone like Eminem in his early days, I’m sure people thought that he was a silly horrorcore rapper but I can name plenty of songs where he had stories (As the World Turns has two stories and Guilty Conscience has three) which were well told; as silly as horrorcore is, there’s no way that I could say that these songs didn’t add depth to the genre (if those songs weren’t hip-hop).
Some rappers do have concepts to their songs but they’re far too underappreciated. I can’t talk about the effect that this has had on the UK on a wide scale but personally it is something that has bothered me for a while; the UK is still continuing on its path so I can confidently say that it’s too early to be worried about what the scene possesses and what it doesn’t but I think it would go a long way to closing the gap in quality between both countries.
A song from the UK with a story