10 International Rappers You Should Know
Hip-hop may have its origins in the Boogie Down Bronx but the genre has spread thousands of miles across the globe since its humble beginnings in the late '70s. Whether it's our neighbors in Canada, across the pond in the U.K. or within the K-pop frenzy in South Korea, the hard-hitting lyrics and head-bopping beats are guaranteed to be found. It's only logical since music has always been a universal language and hip-hop proves to be one of the greatest examples of that fact.
From issues like poverty, violence and depression, hip-hop has been a vehicle to showcase the problems in neighborhoods -- many that you'd never have the chance to step foot in -- around the world. But there's also the positive side in which artists build a career for themselves by flexing their lyrical skills. Some have the innate human impulse to boast about their cars, girls and jewelry while others just want to invite you into their life for a day through their poetic license.
Hip-hop is a feeling that is understood on every continent. Even if listeners can't understand the words -- Young Thug has taught us that sometimes that just doesn't matter -- no worries; if it jams, bangs or clicks with the soul, that's all that's needed. From Ontario to Nigeria, here are 10 International Rappers You Should Know.
This list wouldn't be complete without the U.K. native who had viewers at the edge of their seats over the summer when she dropped "Queens Speech Ep. 4" series. Fans paid attention to Lady Leshurr's hilarious and poignant quips and banter -- Fetty Wap and Rick Ross visuals included. The creative fourth edition of the series is steadily climbing past 5.6 million views. Straight out of Birmingham, the rhymer is also coming across the Atlantic to deliver some rhymes to the East Coast. Catch her at the Gramercy Theatre in New York this December.
Say what you want about Meek Mill, but the Philadelphia rhymer made a smart move when he teamed up with Nigerian rapper Davido. On their cash-bragging tune "Fans Mi," the two end up creating a solid banger. While Davido, 22, was born in Atlanta, he still sports a Nigerian accent, which he throws in his rhymes. "I remember when dem girls no dey come around / I remember when I had no money in my bank account / I remember when the streets no dey show me love / But now dem they love me bami mu this Hennessy," he professes. On "Dodo," the rapper flexes his singing skills on the lighthearted love song.
Skepta proves that there should be more rappers with a South London accent. And like the name of one of his latest songs, "Nasty" the 33-year-old MC is just that. "Talk about music, me and my bros are killing it all over the globe / Now your angry cause everyone on your road is asking for me like the Wi-Fi code," he boasts. Not to mention, Skepta has received multiple co-signs from Drake, who said he's "a true reminder" that there's competition out there to "yam your food." Recently he dropped The Tim Westwood Mix, a 19-track effort that displays his lyrical fire.
Psy's "Gangnam Style" isn't nearly all of what South Korean music has to offer. With the same theatrics as the song that took 2012 by surprise, South Korean rappers include it all with a sick flow to boost. And G Dragon is no different. One fifth of the super group Big Bang, he is also a solo act as well. He often mixes pop music with his rhymes, which is really no different than what Nicki Minaj does on her track "Starships." Songs like "Crooked" are guaranteed to make hip-hop fans feel inspired to mimic the catchy tune while bopping their head. As for Big Bang, think '90s boy bands mixed with dope rhymes. East Coast residents can catch the entire group at the Prudential Center in N.J. this weekend (Oct. 10-11).
Pryde does what many might think to be impossible: combine backpack rap with trap. While the Ontario native sings his hooks, the versatile rapper can also switch up his flow from laid-back rhymes to fast, hard-hitting punchlines. This talent is shown best on his latest track, "Nightshift," an ode to his boo who he's "working all night" for. The song will be featured on his upcoming album, Russell, which is set to arrive this month. The Canadian rhymer is definitely one to watch.
Hailing from Portugal, Valete often raps about political issues in his country but he's not opposed to rhyming about love either. Songs like "Bad Boy" provide a smooth beat for the hip-hop artist to spit over in his native tongue. With over 10 years under his belt as a hip-hop artist, it's clear Valete has love for the genre. Listen to "Guerreiro Otomano," which finds him delivering solid rhymes over a horn-infused boom bap beat.
As we mentioned, South Korean pop and hip-hop is booming and rapper CL is a testament to the sonic boom. The rapper is one of the few K-pop stars to begin a crossover into the U.S. market. With collaborations including Diplo, RiFF RaFF, OG Maco and Skrillex under her belt, she's proving to be a force in hip-hop and represents for the ladies. The South Korean artist is also working with the Black Eyed Peas on new music, according to Pop Dust. CL is also a part of a group, 2NE1. The ladies' track "I Am the Best" was featured in a Microsoft commercial last year. Another one of their songs, "Come Back Home," is a perfect medley of hip-hop, reggae and bubblegum pop.
Only one-half of this duo is international but their jazzy neo-soul sound makes this group's work a must-listen. Especially as the Belgium-born rapper Big Samir rhymes along with his counterpart, Aja Blac, a Queens native. Their inspirational song, "No Matter," could provide some ideal tunes for #MondayMotivation. With incredible chemistry, the two also incorporate live music along with Blac's boisterous singing voice. Samir is also known to throw some French into his rhymes but look to this New Yorker not to disappoint when it comes to laying down lyrics. Not to mention, they were featured in a TED Talk, a popular event geared toward showcasing "ideas worth spreading" in May.
Who would think Italian trap music could ever be a thing? Well, that's exactly what Fabri Fibra brings to the table with bangers like "Alieno." Over a rendition of Kanye West and Jay Z's "N----s in Paris," co-produced by Hit-Boy, the Central Italy native's track immediately evokes a head nod (or two). The 38-year-old rhymer also has some years in the game since he started rapping at the age of 17. Typically, the rapper touches on the theme of politics while naming himself as the best rhymer -- all while speaking in the language of love, of course.
Germany embraces hip-hop and has a solid representative in the form of its rising rhymer Bushido. With 1.5 million albums sold in his native country, it's no wonder the rapper can afford to have a Porshe in his music video. His song, "Panamera Flow," has also amassed over 20 million views on YouTube. Bushido, whose moniker means "Way of the Warrior" in Japanese, hasn't made it this far without controversy though. He's been criticized for less to be desired rhymes, but he's also behind the fight to #FreePalestine. With that said, we hope he brings his talent to the States soon so rap enthusiasts can witness him work a room.
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