When you look back and evaluate 2017, it was a madness for the UK urban music industry. From the quality of music content to production levels … and even in some cases, video and cinematography, 2017 stepped up the levels. Last year delivered numerous charting songs for the scene as well as the creation of a now sound and genre. Although the name hasn’t been fully agreed on yet for now, lets go with – Afroswing. Countless new faces stepped into the scene to make a name for themselves, old legends returned, Michael Dapaah really had the world screaming “she told me take off my jacket!!… “ (you know the rest), and Stormzy crowned it by taking ‘GSAP’ to number one in the UK.
We therefore thought it was only right for us to highlight our twenty five favourite tracks within this sound (aside from RnB, Drill & Grime):
Outro – Nines feat. Shemzy
(Prod. By Maschine Man Tim)
‘Outro’ – The final track of Nines’ ‘One Foot Out’, is a beautifully constructed song and certainly one of the standouts from a strong debut album. Maschine Man Tim’s piano-based production provides the perfect instrumental for Nines to get introspective. The sample is gorgeous, and it allows Nines to lay out all his sentiments, whether that’s his huge ambition or certain fears he experiences that lead to sleepless nights. (Words by @T_P92)
Money On The Road – TG Millian x Naira Marley x Blanco
(Prod. By Jojo)
I have to admit I was wrong about this song. I remember late last year, one of my younger brothers came to me, demanding that I listen to his copy of an unmixed version of this very track (which at the time, only had TG and Blanco). After an admittedly half-hearted listen I disregarded him completely. A few months later I came across it again, this time, the complete track with Naira Marley, and thought to myself, “what a hit!“. Let’s just say I went home to apologise profusely. Don’t make my mistake people or your own sibling will also be giving you that famous Idris Elba/Stringer Bell gif stare! (Words by @ButWhyThough)
Hot Property – MIST
(Prod. By Steel Banglez)
This list wouldn’t be accurate without an offering of that iconic Steel Banglez & MIST combination that shut down every dance last year. This tune had you embracing any person near you and screaming out in earnest “HOT LIKE SAUNAS, COUPLE ARPNAS, KHALAS AND GOURAS!”. The video alone is enough to make this one of the tunes of 2017, truly spectacular. If you haven’t seen it… what are you playing at? Go watch it in 1080p right now. (Words by. @MrLastMinute)
Moscow – Jaykae
(Prod. By Bowzer Boss)
‘Moscow’, like the city, is cold, and the number of streams/views that Jaykae is racking up on the song is testament to this. The beat is menacing yet simple, with repetitive piano chords, a hard drum pattern and a high-pitched synth. Both the hook, and Jaykae’s verses are threatening, but the laid back nature of their delivery is what makes the song even more authentic. The unique visual inspired by ‘Peaky Blinders’, fits the video like a glove further illustrating Jaykae’s clever creativity. (Words by @T_P92)
Change – Fredo
(Prod. By Cee Figz & The Beat Boss)
Having released one of the tracks of the year with ‘Like That’, Fredo managed to step it up another level with ‘Change’. An instrumental possessing electric keys, an addictive melody, coupled with a high pitched vocal sample, is the perfect canvas for Fredo to allow his sauce to drip on to, with his characteristic clarity and delivery once again allowing his gritty lyrics to cut through. It’s an excellent song, and shows Fredo’s consistency in releasing huge hits. (Words by @T_P92)
Warning – Kojo Funds
2016 was a ground-breaking year for Kojo Funds with the East London artist stapling himself at the forefront of the UK scene. Keeping busy throughout 2017 with numerous hit features, Kojo provided us with yet another anthem to add to the collection with ‘Warning’. The track, which samples MC Shan’s ‘Informer’, again highlights Kojo’s range and creativity. One of the pioneers of the ‘Afroswing’ movement, this list could not be complete without him. (Words by. @MrLastMinute)
Diamonds (ft K-Trap) – Yxng Bane
(Prod. By Nyge)
Yxng Bane is one artist that nobody can seem to stop talking about, and with tracks like ‘Diamonds’ it’s not difficult to see why. Produced by Nyge, the eclectic instrumental is complemented with Bane’s syrupy vocals, who once again showcases his diversity as an artist. The wavy vibe of the track is contrasted nicely with K-Trap’s hard-hitting verse, which adds a different dimension to the song.
(Words by @T_P92)
Jumanji – B Young
(Prod. By AntiWave)
‘Jumanji’, sits somewhere in the middle of R&B and Rap, with Antiwave’s wonderful instrumental combining keyboard synths and acoustic guitar with B Young’s velvety vocals adding a splash of Afroswing. It’s not the most sophisticated track, but its stripped back production is what makes the song so satisfying and addictive to listen to. We’re intrigued to see how B Young will build on the platform of this excellent breakout track in 2018! (Words by @T_P92)
Yo Darlin’ (ft. Geko) – NSG
(Prod. By JAE5)
This track is what you’d call a serious ‘shellers’. An understated, yet wonderful JAE5 production, mixed with the energy & enthusiasm of NSG has made ‘Yo Darlin” NSG’s breakthrough single. Grab a babes, blaze out loud and perfect your whine with said babes … (the slow technique whines though). With superstar Liam Payne already jumping on another remix (‘Bedroom Floor’) you don’t want to be the last one left sleeping on these guys. (Words by @ButWhyThough)
Bad Habits – Baseman
This year was a strong year for Baseman. Following the success of 2016 hit, ‘New Wavin’’, Base kept the hits coming with controversial Shocktown diss-track ‘Porky’s’ and the outstanding ‘Corleone’. However, saving the best till last, ‘Bad Habits’ was the best drop of the lot. With some trippy visuals to fit, this is an effortlessly cool track, perfect to zone out to if like Baseman, you also have some “bad habits”. (Words by @MrLastMinute)
You Alright Yeah? (ft. Nado) – Don- E
A whole Beyoncé backed this song. If that doesn’t tell you enough then what else can I say? This was one of the songs of 2017 that made everyone cheer and just sing with such joy. Every festival I touched last summer played this with such amazing reactions – incredible. This song had us checking all our brethren’s’ mothers were in good health, whether they wanted any food and then inviting them for some. I mean if you can’t love that then you’re of cold heart. (Words by @ButWhyThough)
No Don – Lotto Boyz
(Prod. by Amo$ & Jay Brown beatz)
Birmingham Boyz, Ash & Lucas, really made significant waves last year in the UK music scene. Seven million hits and ‘No Don’ reaching number forty-five in the UK chart, the track proved massive success and it’s highly deserved. The clean bars from Lucas work great in assistance to the showstopping vocals from Ash, which certainly helped pinned the groups profile high on the UK radar. (Words by @MrLastMinute)
Bad Boys ft Ghetts & J Hus – Stormzy
(Prod. Fraser T Smith, Pro2Jay & E.Y Beats)
In 2017, ‘Abigail’s yout’ Stormzy, did something truly incredible, and pretty much unprecedented in the scene. He created an incredible, diverse body of work that charted at number one in the UK. No urban artist has experienced a movement of support as significant as Stormz for ‘GSAP’ and it was beautiful to see. A modern day pioneer Stormzy undoubtedly laid the platform for what could be achieved if you really work at your craft. ‘GSAP’ was so good, a number of tracks could have made this list, but the track that had to be chosen was ‘Bad Boys’. The harmonic chorus of fellow man of the moment, J Hus’, comboined with the venomous verses of UK Legend, Ghetts, delivered a true bad boy track. If you disagree, go ask Carlos. (Words by @MrLastMinute)
Aladdin – Not3s
(Prod. By Remedee & Malv on the Track)
Probably the most impressive rise of all artists within the 2017 UK urban music scene, Not3s had the entire scene ‘take note’ with the drop of ‘Addison Lee’. Considering Not3s was pretty much unheard of before his debut track, the calculations of being a ‘one hit wonder’ wouldn’t have been completely farfetched. However, Not3s managed to destroy all those doubts with his follow up to ‘Notice’ – ‘Aladdin’, his best track so far. Not3s complements the smooth Remedee beat with his catchy chorus, a track that was an iconic staple in the Afroswing movement. (Words by @MrLastMinute)
No Words (ft. MoStack) – Dave
(Prod. By Steel Banglez)
“I don’t wanna dead no beeeeef”…God damn this chorus is addictive. Dave smashes his chorus, Steel Banglez smashed the beat and MoStack can’t seem to do anything wrong at the moment. The combos are dangerous. Off the back of the success of the Drake sponsored ‘Wanna Know’ ,and his debut project, ‘Six Paths EP’, Dave delivered his follow up EP – ‘Game Over’, with ‘No Words’ being the highlight. Considering this track came out in late 2017, it’s certainly due to be rinsed for the majority of 2018. (Words by @MrLastMinute)
Ain’t Bothered – 23 Unofficial
(Prod. By N2theA)
Hackney resident “Two tree” stepped into the UK music scene with sauce last year, with his smash debut single – ‘Ain’t Bothered’. From Stratford to Shepherds Bush, 23 Unofficial had the admirers blaring “Plug… extension cord!” from Instagram captions to Snapchat stories. The bouncy track produced by N2theA is so crispy and 23 flows effortlessly on the N2theA beat. If you’re listening for the first time, before you know it, you’ll be rinsing and repeating the track like dirty boxers. In addition to follow ups ‘Torn’ feat. Kali Claire & ‘Can’t Tell me Nothing’, ‘Ain’t Bothered’ has definitely thrown 23 on the one’s to watch list for 2018, so keep an eye out. (Words by @MrLastMinute)
Screw & Brew (ft MIST) – Mo Stack
(Prod. By Steel Banglez)
Once the Steel Banglez instrumental drops, Screw & Brew delivers that instant energy kick that will have you looking for the nearest top rope. Throughout last year it became clear that any sort of MIST and Mo Stack collab would undoubtedly reach Hardy Boyz levels of awesomeness. Screw & Brew was yet another successful, hit collaboration in which we saw the pair bouncing off each other as if they were ‘day ones’ from nursery. Easily one of the top tracks of the year but if you don’t agree, that’s okay because my God is a forgiving God. Amen. (Words by @ButWhyThough).
Rihanna – Yxng Bane
(Prod. By Legendury Beatz)
2017 was a massive year for Baney Boy, an impeccable run of solid guest features and excellent individual deliveries has transcended Bane to the upper echelon of UK hit makers. Mainstream audiences sat up and took note with his remix of Ed Sheerans’ ‘Shape of You’ and ‘Bestie’ alongside Yungen, however Bane delivered his standout release of the year with ‘Rihanna’. Like most Yxng Bane tracks, it is not easy to define genre wise; partly R&B mixed with Afroswing – ‘Rihanna’ (like the individual) is wonderful. Soulful and rhythmic with the perfect balance of bounce, ‘Rihanna’ is the perfect late night cruise around the city with your partner music. (Words by @MrLastMinute)
Tell Me Feat. Kojo Funds & Jahlani – Wretch 32
(Prod. By Sons of Sonix)
Wretch gives us one of the feel good tracks of the year with ‘Tell Me’. Using a familiar Whitney Houston sample, Wretch maintains an original, infectious melody, seasoning it with that Afro-Caribbean flavour. He has a singsong flow throughout the song that couples with Kojo Funds’ silky yet low-pitched hook. Jahlani’s vim and vigour, adds another dimension to the bubbly track, which may be Wretch’s best song yet, and will no doubt be played in clubs and social events for years to come. (Words by @T_P92)
Unsigned – Hardy Caprio feat. One Acen
(Prod. By Mokuba Lives)
One of the biggest crossover hits of the year, ‘Unsigned’ by Hardy Caprio is a song that can be enjoyed by all audiences. One of Croydon’s very own, Hardy, who is now building a reputation for becoming a reliable hit-maker, still attacks the beat with his raw style, but the catchy melody and One Acen’s chorus, smooth down the rough edges of Hardy’s delivery providing the complete package for the song. (Words by @T_P92)
Juice and Power (ft Yxng Bane) – Afro B
(Prod. By N2theA)
A real monster hit in the club, headphones and car stereos – for you to truly appreciate how this track touched souls, you’ll need to pronounce it “Juice and Gpower!” The standout track from Afro B’s solid debut offering, ‘Afrowave’, ‘Juice & Power’ showcases an effortless harmonic synergy between Afro B & Yxng Bane. Since its drop in February till the present day, I’ve not heard one person around me comment they did not enjoy this track. The proof is there as every “end of year” recap mixes you hear will have this blended in and I can guarantee the replay value will still continue as strong, long into 2018… – (Words By @ButWhyThough & @MrLastMinute)
Khalas (ft R.A) – Krept & Konan
(Prod. By AdotSkitz)
Khalas is seven minutes of hostile aggression, rapped at a blistering pace by three UK legends that combine complex wordplay, intricate rhyming patterns and flow variation throughout. The return of UK Urban cult figure, R.A., holds high significance, and when the track list for Krept & Konan’s ‘7 Days’ was published, this was the song that was most anticipated. It certainly did not disappoint. Every MC delivered, with a relentless energy that didn’t abate, and venomous verses from R.A., which will cement this song as one of the greats in UK Rap history. (Words by @T_P92)
Fisherman (feat. MoStack & Mist) – J Hus
(Prod. By Steel Banglez & JAE5)
“You see me hop out the Minivan… You never see the wayyy, I caaame, looking like a Fisherman!…” Following a preview leak that ended up on YouTube months prior, our WhatsApp group chat eagerly, (and impatiently), waited for the full release of this. When ‘Fisherman’ finally dropped, it was not long after we experienced it inside of a club setting, I’m sure I saw a few of us wipe away a tear of joy. The collective delight and pleasure was something I’ve not seen or experienced since Rick Ross, Drake & French Montana’s ,‘Stay Schemin’’.
Three of the most popular and entertaining, rising UK artists with a combination of award winning producers in Steel Banglez & JAE5, this melodic heaven of a track truly surpassed our expectations. Neither MIST, MoStack nor J Hus wanted to be outshone and this made for an anthem that held the summer firmly in its grip. I’m not sure many would complain of this being regarded as one of the top UK tracks of the year and a UK classic for years to come. (Words by @ButWhyThough & @MrLastMinute).
KMT (ft Drake) – Giggs
(Prod. By Ness (HBTL) & Cameron Pasquale)
Hehe, I know what you’re thinking… “Jheeze, I see what you’ve done there” – yup, it’s only right.
It’s been a while since we’ve seen a feature verse dominate a song – admittedly, somewhat controversially, as much as the Giggs ‘KMT’ verse from Drake’s ‘More Life’ playlist. From the release of the of the ‘More Life’ track list, the presence of Giggs – the UK’s favourite rapper – on a track with Drake, North America’s favourite rapper/singer/awful dancer strummed an excitement level many could not contain.
First off, the producers, Ness Beats & Cameron Pasquale need to be sectioned… because the ‘KMT’ instrumental can only be described as villainous. The type of beat The Joker would play at pre-drinks with his fellow rogues in Gotham before a plot to take down Batman. When you hear the instrumental… just make space.
Drake’s entry to the track gives you that vital time to stretch, the “Okay okayyy” is your first warning that unadulterated chaos is about to ensue, once you hear “Demon-“… put your screw-face, it’s time to go. Drake’s skippy and bouncy verse is quite underrated, the bars and flow are crispy clean as you would come to expect from Drizzy. But Giggs, Hollowman, the UK Rap Don Dada did what he does to most UK artists when he ‘features’ and confiscates the track like the big piece of goose at Aubrey’s thanksgiving dinner in Calabasas.
Inciting riots, pandemonium and anarchy across festivals, raves and concerts state-wide; the euphoria that surrounded ‘KMT’ made the world sit up and put respect on Giggs’ name. (Words By @MrlastMinute)
J Hus – Did You See
(Prod. By JAE5)
Large. Huge. Gargantuan. Ginormous. So many words can be used to describe the sheer size of this song. Close to hitting fifty million views on YouTube, sixty million streams on Spotify, ‘Did You See’ by J Hus, continues to rack up plays… and for good reason. Jae 5’s melody is eargasmic, and Hus provides his quotable, easy to remember lyrics that allow the listener to sing along. The crossover appeal of the song, underlines its importance as it has paved the way for artists from a similar background, to be heard and appreciated by the masses. (Words by @T_P92)
Hands down the song of the year. This not only shut down the UK but the ripples were felt worldwide from Cancun to each coast of the USA to Canada and it’s not an exaggeration… As well as it being one of JAE5’s finest productions for me, it’s also one of J Hus’ best songs ever. I pray these two continue to make music together because this is art. Lyrics, production, video. This song drips swagger. I don’t even need to go on any more but this is the UK song of the year man. I have fully seen what J Hus has done. (Words by @ButWhyThough)
When Stormzy delivered his fantastic and widely acclaimed number one album – ‘GSAP’, not many would expected any project coming from the scene to rival or surpass it, but that is the brilliant feat that J Hus managed to achieve. ‘Common Sense’ is an incredible body of work, highlighted no more so than the lead track ‘Did You See’. J Hus personifies unique, and he showcases his infectious, melodious delivery best on this track, not to mention JAE5’s production is sublime.
The 2017 MOBO song of the year is undisputedly deserving of that title, as well as it’s standing of the Bespoke Mag number one UK track of the year. ‘Did You See’ will undoubtedly solidify itself as a UK Classic for years to come. (Words By @MrlastMinute)