It’s an exciting era both US and UK rap. With both worlds delivering new bangers at a rapid pace, we need quality curators to cherrypick the best material. Fortunately, the UK is well equipped with DJs who’ve got their finger on the pulse.
Below is a list featuring some of the many UK DJs who are renowned for dropping fresh hip-hop tunes – among other genres – at clubs, festivals, industry events and before or after rapper’s shows. If you see these names on an event flyer, you’re in good hands.
1. Tiffany Calver
Growing up in the West Midlands, Tiffany Calver developed a passion for rap while listening to Tim Westwood on the radio and discovering UK rap talent via Channel U. Later blogging for Hypebeast and SBTV, she went on to host shows on NTS, Radar Radio and – after impressing Drake’s manager Oliver El-Khatib with a set at Skepta’s SkAIR Berlin launch party – she was picked to record a mix for OVO’s Beats 1 show. After landing a rap show on Kiss FM, at the beginning of 2019 Calver began hosting BBC Radio 1 and 1Xtra’s Saturday night rap show – a spot previously held by Westwood and Charlie Sloth. Soon after, she was announced as the warm-up DJ for Drake and Tory Lanez' Assassination Nation UK and EU tour.
Where to hear her: 9-11pm Saturdays on BBC Radio 1 and 1Xtra
2. Kenny Allstar
He’s still in his mid-20s, but Kenny Allstar has already established himself as a respected figure in the the UK rap scene. After uniting artists from different parts of London for his compilation album Block Diaries, in October 2019 he began his residency at 1Xtra, which he juggles with his Mad About Bars series on the Mixtape Madness YouTube channel. Kenny’s known for his having his ear to the ground of the UK drill scene, but for his club bookings you’re just a likely to see him fill the dancefloor with afro-swing and dancehall selections.
Where to hear him: 9-11pm Fridays / Sunday nights on 1Xtra
3. Snoochie Shy
Having started out as a blogger at the age of 18, South East Londoner Snoochie Shy has become one of the biggest personalities in UK rap broadcasting, bringing out the humour of the scene’s MCs with the game-show style format of her Breakfast with Snoochie Shy show on Boiler Room and on the UK version of the Yo! MTV Raps show. As a recent DJ set at Kenny Allstar’s album launch proves, when it comes to hyping up a crowd, Snoochie is a true pro.
4. Amy Becker
Amy Becker is a DJ who joins the dots between experimental club material and raw contemporary rap from both sides of the Atlantic. With her Wake N Bake show, Becker was one of the most prominent presenters on Radar Radio, interviewing the likes of Cardi B alongside big names on the UK scene. For a taste of the vibe at her Acrylic parties, check out her excellent show on NTS.
5. DJ G-A-Z
Alongside being the official DJ for Liverpool rapper (and Giggs collaborator) Aystar, G-A-Z is a regular name on flyers for hip-hop clubnights and event afterparties in Manchester, and he’s hyped up the crowd for the likes of Stormzy, Wretch 32, Yungen, MIST, French Montana and The Game.
Where to hear him: Mondays 9-11pm on Unity Radio
6. Livin Proof
This four man collective throw reliably banging hip-hop parties at Village Underground and Oval Space. Having formed in 2007, the over the years the Livin Proof boys have scooped up plenty of impressive accolades, including debut London shows from Danny Brown, ASAP Rocky and Flatbush Zombies, parties with the likes of Giggs, ScHoolboy Q and Hudson Mohawke and have toured Europe and Asia.
Hear Livin Proof's sets on Soundcloud
Thelonious Oliver aka Motive runs Bank Holiday records and manages the artists JD Reid and Jehsu. His regular hip-hop orientated show on NTS – which has attracted guests like Octavian, Oscar Worldpeace and Mr. Mitch – is highly recommended. Keep an eye out for Motive on the London club circuit.
Where to hear him: NTS
On her M&M show and her role as one of The Grime Show hosts, A.G has hosted an impressive list of guest MCs – Novelist, Yizzy, Slowthai, Kamakaze and Flowdan to name just a few. Alongside these two shows on Rinse, you can find A.G on NTS with Beauty Blender, where she explores experimental club tracks and US rap alongside DJ/producer Manara – a member of the BBC AZN Network collective. With a skill for blending grime, rap and bass-heavy productions, as a DJ, A.G thrives in the club setting.
Watch Eyez and Kamakaze perform in Red Bull Studios:
Eyez and Kamakaze live in Red Bull Studios
The two standout stars of last year's Grime-A-Side who brought their respective teams, Derby and Leicester, to the finals.
One quarter of the NRG Boys collective, you’ll find this DJ dropping contemporary rap bangers at some of Bristol’s most hyped clubnights, where hip-hop sits side-by-side with UK funky, dancehall and R&B to sustain the vibe of the city’s young ravers.
Where to hear him: 7-9pm every last Saturday of the month , on 10 Twenty Radio
Following a residency for Peckham’s Balamii radio, these days the London-based DJ delivers a “spicy 60 minute selection” once a month for her Cinnamon Sounds show on NTS.
11. Born N Bread
Having held down a much-loved NTS show since 2015, this tight-knit crew from South London's sets range from RnB, Afrobeats and soulful hip-hip to trap, UK drill and grime. As well as being stalwarts of the London club scene, the collective are also zine makers, and are individually in involved in photography projects, art and fashion.
Where to hear them: Every other Saturday morning on NTS
12. Magic City
Glasgow’s rap-loving community is well served by the Magic City party, helmed by its three DJ residents Vale, Keoma and Mullen. Guests who've blessed Magic City with their sets include S-Type, The Blessings and Inkee of Glasgow’s Lucky Me label – which has played a vital role in merging contemporary hip-hop with futuristic club music.
13. Sian Anderson
With strong connections in the grime scene, Sian Anderson has rightly risen in the UK music industry. Alongside regular DJ gigs at clubs and festivals, a huge audience locks in to Anderson playing both old and new rap, grime and R&B on 1Xtra. She’s also an A&R and Marketing Executive at Parlaphone records, a freelance journalist and a mentor at the Nexxt Step programme for women in the industry.
Where to hear her: 4-7pm Fridays and Saturdays on 1Xtra
Alongside regular sets at intimate parties, over years Jetsss has ticked Outlook festival, Fabric and The Warehouse Project off her DJ bucketlist. Having hosted shows on NTS and Balamii, in October 2018 she kicked off a residency at Rinse.
Where to hear her: Twice monthly on Rinse
15. Siobhan Bell
The go-to rap DJ for fashion parties, over the years Siobhan Bell has picked by the likes of Moschino, Balmain, Nazir Mazhar and Fenty X Puma to play at their events. Bell first got her foot in the door of the music industry with internships at Atlantic, Warner and a summer spent working for Birdman’s Cash Money Records office in New York. Her DJing career kicked off with sets at London’s Work It party and she later launched her own brand and party series Cherryade. Bell has thrived in that intersection between fashion and hip-hop culture, and her Instagram documents an enviable, globe-trotting schedule.
Keep up with contemporary rap bangers with our Pass the Aux Spotify playlist