Dream Team: UK hip hop, Garage and Grime at Sónar Barcelona


A world-beating squad of advanced beats and rhymes from England

As the nations of the globe prepare to send their finest players to the World Cup in Russia, so too will Sónar 2018 present the best in advanced music from around the world. Especially strong this year is the showing from the UK, and especially England, with several artists leading the pack when it comes to advanced beats and rhymes.  

While England's hopes for world cup glory are bound to fizzle out in the quarter finals in a puddle of tears, stale beer and hot-dog grease, the country's second greatest invention -  Grime - continues it's dizzying ascent. Sónar has embraced the sound since it first emerged, which makes it a special honour to welcome Wiley, the genre's de-facto creator, to the festival for the first time. Recently awarded the MBE by the Queen for services to British Culture, the MC and producer has done more than any other artist to put the grime sound on the map. In a career that's veered from shifting white labels of tracks by his Roll Deep Crew out of the boot of his car, to promoting the first raves focused on Grime music in the capital with London's Eskimo Dance, the artist born Richard Cowie has never been far from a mic or a laptop, crafting the hits, "Wearing my Rolex", "Heatwave", and creating the template for everything that came after with the game-changing 2001 track "Wot You Call It?"

If Wiley is grime's team captain, then Preditah is the new signing tearing up the left wing; equally at home with the fundamentals of grime and garage, as he is curving a hit out of nowhere into the top of the charts. Last years' breathtaking "On my Mind" ft. Jorja Smith being a case in point. Along with a clutch of Brum MC's, (including Lady Leshurr who last year stole the show at SonarVillage) the young Birmingham producer is helping put the city back on the musical map, proving that England's fertile urban scene extends well beyond the M25. Lovers of bass music in all its forms can expect a treat from his set at SonarLab on Friday 15th June.

Despite her diminutive moniker, Little Simz is the biggest thing to happen to the UK scene in years. Effectively in a league of her own, the north London artist has released two critically acclaimed LP's to date, as well as laying down memorable guest spots for artists ranging from Kendrick Lamar to Andre 3000 to Gorillaz. Representing the best of the musical melting pot that is the capital in the 21st century,  her records take in hip-hop, soul, funk and jazz, set off by inimitable and psychedelic storytelling. Fresh from a world tour with Gorillaz - who'll also be performing at Sónar by Night this year - expect her live show to be every bit as explosive as her recordings.

As well as the three lions above, Sónar Barcelona also makes space in its program for two other young voices, both of whom will be earning their caps at the festival this year. Representing an evolution in UK urban music, IAMDDB is the missing link between trap, grime and drill - with caustic flows a plenty and a take no prisoners approach to the scene. And if all that hype brings out the attitude in the stands, then trailblazing DJ Jamz Supernova has the perfect antidote, with a set of hazy, forward looking R&B she's dubbed 'Future Bounce'

Finally an England squad worth cheering for at Sónar 2018.