Following the release of our annual Yearbook 'All About The Music 2021', Jasmine Dotiwala, a member of BPI's Equality & Justice Advisory Group, writes on the rise of Rap and Hip Hop in the UK. 


In the mid-90s when I first started working in the industry as a young hip-hop fan and TV presenter, I was told dismissively by many industry gatekeepers that rap and hip-hop would be a fleeting music genre and not to be taken seriously, especially the UK sound. 

Now it's a music genre that's woven into the fabric of mainstream pop culture and the cornerstone of a generation’s soundtrack to their lives. The music is used by marketeers and business brands globally, the culture dictates early trends and impacts cultural slanguage, behaviour and staple cultural references in the mainstream, as well as having given millions of underrepresented musical voices legitimate career opportunities. 

In the past, it felt like rap and hip hop culture was demonised by the mainstream, and to be honest, it wasn't supported and championed by the music industry or record labels in the UK until more young new black talent came through their staff ranks and opened those doors to the talent. 

Today UK rap and hip hop has been shown to spotlight social awareness and give a voice to underrepresented groups across society. 

The power of hip hop and the influence of the UK talent can be seen at every turn now, even though once upon a time only the American stars were invested in and championed by the UK gatekeepers.

Many of us have been privileged to have been allowed a seat at the table of rap and hip hop culture by the Black community - the culture has given many people across various classes, ethnicities, locations and generations a career and chance to champion the music we love and enjoy. 

To see how successful British rap voices across cultures are soaring with success is something we always knew was possible, we just needed the internet and streaming services to galvanise the british rap and hip hop movements’ DIY ethos.

The hip hop, rap and grime economy in the UK has a national impact and global reach creating openings for many. 

The wider music industry has some of the lowest employment diversity statistics and has tended to be dominated by more socially privileged groups, but in contrast grime, rap and hip hop offers multiple routes into the sector for those involved in the genre. 

Rap and hip hop in the UK has united communities, unified music fans, empowered individuals to create their own business ecosystems and over two decades on, wider society has woken up to the economical significance of the genre.

This is all credit to the self sufficient entrepreneurial M.O of the culture, and huge kudos must be given to those who have diligently championed and built the success of the genre in front and behind the microphone. 

To the musicians, their teams, the multiple media platforms, radio DJs, producers, live events teams, music journalists, those who champion the music and culture relentlessly and the music lovers.... Congratulations.