It’s fair to say London’s Lily Mercer is one of the most active figures in today’s creative industry.
After writing columns for various magazines and interviewing names like Mary J. Blige, Pete Rock, Wu-Tang Clan and Nas, Lily now runs the excellent Viper Magazine which, now on its seventh print edition, has seen cover stars like Darq E Freaker, Kali Uchis, Schoolboy Q, Earl Sweatshirt, and Novelist.
Often tagged as the city’s “Queen of hip hop”, Lily is also prolific behind the decks, running regular shows on Rinse FM and Apple Music’s Beats 1 where she throws spotlight on a wealth of underground talent and has been noted for debuting a number of prolific hip hop artists on Uk radio.
Set to appear at the Needs x UN Women HeForShe event this Sunday, the cultural project at Oval Space brings together influential men and women from across the music world in a mixture of discussions and empowering performances, with Peggy Gou, Jackmaster and Roxanne De Bastion also featuring.
Catching Lily for a minute between her busy schedule, the tastemaker drops wisdom on some of the rising talent of the rap scene, sharing with us ten of her favourites artists making waves at the moment. Check below.
1. Smokepurpp – Big Bucks
Smokepurpp isn’t a new name for some, due to his association with xxxtentation and other rappers in South Florida’s LoFi rap scene. He’s got close to 2 Million followers on Instagram but is a fairly new name in the commercial rap world – not for long though! This is the catchiest song so far for me, I can see it starting mosh pits when I play it in DJ sets.
2. Amindi K. Fro$t, Tessellated & Valleyz – Pine & Ginger
This was released late last year but I became obsessed with it on a recent trip to Jamaica. The bar at the end of the video is where we drank every night and this song sums up the country’s party spirit. These guys have a great musical chemistry together.
3. Octavian ft Sam Wise – 100 Degrees
Everyone is talking about Octavian right now – and for a good reason. His vibe sums up London culture to me, there’s a rawness to his voice and lyrics that cut through the city’s cliches. It just feels different. Sam Wise is great too, he’s a member of House of Pharaohs who are making great music.
4. Z Money x Valee – Two 16s
Valee is the next rapper to blow in America. If you don’t believe me, Kanye just signed him. His non-structured flow make him stand out from literally every rapper in the market. He has the second verse on this and legend has it, he recorded the whole thing in one breath. Mad. Gucci Mane recently signed Z Money, so watch out for him too.
5. G Herbo – Shook
I’ve been raving about G Herbo for at least three years. He came up aged 16, in the Chief Keef era of Chicago drill, but has evolved into an intelligent rapper that’s able to critique the violence in his city. He still makes songs to wild out to though, don’t get it twisted.
6. Saweetie – ICY GRL
This caught my attention as soon as I heard it, I like the way her lyrics bounce on the beat. There’s a cocky attitude to Saweetie’s lyrics that I love, plus she raps pretty fast. As a fan of grime, I always appreciate when US rappers play with fast-paced flows.
7. Dave East ft Wiz Khalifa – Phone Jumpin
Harlem’s Dave East is one of the best rappers in NYC. He’s traditional with it and still plays with words and flows in a nineties style. My favourite songs of his are on the latest project, P2. This track is from an older release, but the flip of the Busta Rhymes classic make it one I always go back to.
8. Hoodrich Pablo Juan ft Gucci Mane – We Don’t Luv Em [Remix]
Hoodrich Pablo Juan has been on the scene for a while but he’s been killing it recently. This is my favourite new one from him, maybe because he has the Gucci Mane co-sign. Hoodrich Pablo’s definitely the next guy in the Trap scene that everyone’s checking for.
9. J.I.D – EdEddnEddy
J.I.D. is someone that I came across three or four years ago. He was on a song with 6LACK and a duo called EARTHGANG, who he grew up with. They all have a rootsy rap sound that I adore. Much more in the lane of OutKast than the Trap rappers that Atlanta has produced. J. Cole recently signed J.I.D. and EARTHGANG, so if you caught his Europe shows last year, they were the support acts.
10. slowthai – T N Biscuits
Slowthai caught my eye a couple years ago with a song called Jiggle. His projects are incredible, he has a real punk energy, though he’s rapping. Being from Northampton, he’s one of the few rappers not from London that are really pushing UK rap forward.
Catch lily Mercer at Needs x HeForShe at Oval Space with Jackmaster, Peggy Gou, B Traits, Munroe Bergdorf & more.
Tickets and more info here.