It took the British rap scene several years to find its footing. During this time, America had its fair share of influence on UK rap; from exploring New York boom bap in the late 90s and early 00s, to the inevitable adoption of gritty street rap. Without an established, profitable industry to work in, UK rappers were left covering their favourite East Coast beats to slot into their mixtapes.
Some of the beats were established classics, while others were hidden gems waiting to be reappropriated. Those unfamiliar with American hip hop may not realise just how many classic UK rap songs adopt a beat from the rap originators (and often making a better song out of it!).
We bring you 15 iconic UK rap songs that use an American beat. Discover the originals paired with their UK equivalent and expand your hip hop knowledge.
Nines – CR (2012)
Original Beat: Styles P – How I Fly (2011)
Fun Fact: The Nines song “Nu Crack” uses the classic beat of “Two Dope Boyz (In a Cadillac)” by OutKast (1998).
Giggs – Talkin da Hardest (2007)
Original Beat: Stat Quo – Here We Go (2007) (prod. Dr. Dre)
Fun Fact: This Dr. Dre-produced song was slated to be the lead single to Shady Records’ Stat Quo’s debut album, Statlanta, which was ultimately shelved and recreated in 2010.
K Koke – Fire in the Booth (2010)
Original Beat: Lil Wayne – Tie My Hands (2008)
Fun Fact: At 19 million YouTube views, K Koke has the fifth most-watched Fire in the Booth.
Nines – AJ’d Out (2012)
Original Beat: G-Unit – My Buddy (2003)
Fun Fact: UK drill rapper Digga D interpolates the hook to “My Buddy” on his 2021 song “My Brucky”.
Potter Payper – Purple Rain (2013)
Original Beat: Kanye West – Everything I Am (2007) (prod. DJ Premier)
Fun Fact: “Respek” from Potter Payer’s Training Day 2 samples “Lovebirds” by The Dramatics (1979). The song “Famous” by Benny the Butcher (2020) also incorporates the same sample.
Squeeks – Big Squeeko (2012)
Original Beat: Nipsey Hussle – Rose Clique (2011)
Fun Fact: During its era of release, “Big Squeeko” was one of Link Up TV’s most viewed videos.
Skrapz – One More Chance (2014)
Original Beat: The Notorious B.I.G. – One More Chance (ft. Faith Evans) (1994)
Fun Fact: Skrapz’ 2014 mixtape 80s Baby covers more hip hop classics, such as Tupac’s “Keep Ya Head Up”, Dr. Dre’s “Deep Cover”, and Mobb Deep’s “Survival of the Fittest”.
Joe Black & Squeeks – Usual Suspects (2011)
Original Beat: Rick Ross – Usual Suspects (ft. Nas) (2009)
Fun Fact: This Joe Black classic is taken from his iconic 2011 mixtape, Realionaire.
Nines – Missed the Summer (2012)
Original Beat: Mac Miller – Good Evening (2010)
Fun Fact: This Nines song is alternatively titled “Handle It, Pt. 2” on streaming services.
Chip – Peri Peri Sauce (2016)
Original Beat: Jay-Z – You, Me, Him and Her (2000) (prod. Bink)
Fun Fact: This was Chip’s last diss aimed at fellow UK rapper, Yungen. Chip uses the title of the original Jay Z song to subliminally refer to Krept & Konan as “Him” and Yungen as “Her”.
Potter Payper – Long Time (2013)
Original Beat: Mac Miller – La La La La (2010)
Fun Fact: Another track off Potter Payper’s Training Day, “Mad Years”, samples “Alone” by JMSN (2012). “These Keys” by Nines (2018) also uses the same sample.
LD (67) – Live Corn (2014)
Original Beat: LA Capone – Separate Myself (Intro) (2014)
Fun Fact: Both versions are considered the most iconic drill songs in their respective scenes.
Potter Payper – My Partners (2016)
Original Beat: Jay Z – This Can’t Be Life (feat. Beanie Sigel & Scarface) (2000) (prod. Kanye West)
Fun Fact: The track that follows on Training Day 2, “Hungry Little Fucker”, samples the hip hop classic “Shook Ones, Pt. II” by Mobb Deep (1995).
John Wayne – Fresh Home (2009)
Original Beat: Lloyd Banks – Without My Glock (2005)
Fun Fact: John Wayne is also known by his original stage name, Johnny Gunz.
Rimzee – Keep Stacking (2012)
Original Beat: Common – Blue Sky (2011)
Fun Fact: Rimzee’s song “I’m from Southwold”, also on Upper Clapton Dream, uses the beat to Young Jeezy’s “Trap Star”.