UK hip hop's gotten a pretty bad rap of late.
It spent years getting over the impression that it was all white guys with shite beards rapping about hemp seeds and last month it took another dig in the ribs, ridiculed by a sizeable Oxbridge no-mark at VICE who poked fun at the scene as a whole after 'documenting' the very fringes; answering the big questions ("Do Brits 'get' hip-hop?") by interviewing smashed teenage girls at a Liquid & Envy in Bristol and writing the whole thing off as a very sorry affair.
It was the kind of lazy journalism that's come to typify the world's foremost alt-news/culture source but the fact is that if they'd just spent half an hour doing some research they'd find that - far from being in the doldrums - the UK scene is in a better state that it's ever been.
One such rapper is Loyle Carner. The London-based 19-year-old rhymer came to our attention after a stellar showing on Irish emcee Rejjie Snow's '1992' and his solo-output has impressed too - or what there is of it at least.
With only the barest hint of an EP ("out soonish", says his Facebook page), Carner's releases have been limited to three truly excellent demo tracks in just over a year: 'Eleven' is straight-forward tale of looking in on a doomed relationship and 'Sea Shells' is a cool, summer jam of a young love story - both showcase Carner's easy, distinctly-London voice (vaguely reminiscent of King Krule's) and brilliantly spotlight the rapper's knack for a staccato, talky flow over funky chopped beats that're a few BPM faster than his peers'.
Latest is 'Cantona' which is probably the best of the three, with Carner adopting a subtle, stream of consciousness-style as he reminisces on his upbringing and his relationship with his Dad that steadily escalates as he ups the speed and the intensity as he tells his old man he's leaving. It's affecting stuff and if there's an album or a mixtape of this stuff of even half this quality on the way, count me in.