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Scottish hip hop is the regional manifestation of the British hip hop culture in Scotland, comprising the five elements of MCing, DJing, beatboxing, graffiti and b-boying.[1]


In the 1980s, elements of hip hop culture had spread to Scotland. Scottish actor and stand-up comedian Johnny Beattie claimed to be "Scotland's first rap star". His song "The Glasgow Rap" was released in 1983 and received some chart success at the time.[2][3]

In the late 1980s artists such as II Tone Committee, Bill Drummond, Krack Free Media, Dope Inc and into the early 1990s with Blacka'nized, NorthernXposure, Zulu Syndicate, Eastborn, Major Threat, All Time High and UTI (Under The Influence) laid the groundwork for a Scottish Hip Hop subculture, rapping consciously about their own lives and problems in their own voices rather than emulating American rappers of the time.[4][5] The first Scottish hip-hop on vinyl was The Frontal Attack, released by Dope Inc in 1991.[6] In Glasgow, Steg G & the Freestyle Master were producing work that added a west coast twist to Scottish rap.[4][5]

In the early 2010s, a defined scene became more visible in the mainstream for various reasons.

Firstly, the emergence of "written" battle rap as a defined artform led to greater exposure of the scene as whole,[7] thanks to the creation of battle events in both Edinburgh & Glasgow by Nity Gritz, co-hosted by Werd (S.O.S) [8] This even culminated in a Scotsman becoming the de facto UK battle rap champion when Soul became the Don't Flop champion in 2015.[9]

Several artists within the hip hop community also became galvanised by the 2014 Scottish independence referendum. The likes of Loki[10] and Stanley Odd championed the Yes vote. The former emerged as an activist and cultural voice on behalf of the hip hop community, while the latter went viral with their single "Son, I Voted Yes".[11]

Elsewhere, several acts within the scene broke into the mainstream. The likes of Hector Bizerk and The LaFontaines earned prestigious slots at the T in the Park festival, as well as widespread critical recognition. Meanwhile, Young Fathers, a hip hop group from Edinburgh, achieved UK-wide success with their album "Dead", for which they won the Mercury prize. While Edinburgh's Madhat McGore pushed the music further down south, working with English acts and appearing on Charlie Sloth's BBC Fire in the Booth.[12] Eastborn toured Australia, the US and China, as well as guest slot presenter of BBC 1xtra.

Edinburgh Born Rob Mitchell leads Abstract Orchestra, a British hip hop orchestra that are known for reworking classic American hip hop and working with both UK and US artists.

In July 2015, the Audio Soup festival in Dunbar became the first to dedicate an entire stage to Scottish hip hop artists.[13]


From the inception of Hip hop culture in Scotland, break dancing became a popular dance form. Castle Rocks was Scotland's biggest ever bboy competition and attracted competitors from Korea, Brazil, France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Norway etc. and across the UK. It was established in 2005 and ended in 2012. Some prominent Scottish crews (past and present): Flyin' Jalapeños Crew,[14] Laser city crew,[15] 141 Crew, White City Breakers, Random Askpektz.


  1. ^ "Scottish Rap | Feature". Retrieved 15 September 2013.
  2. ^ "Obituary: Johnny Beattie". The Stage. Retrieved 2020-12-23.
  3. ^ "Johnny Beattie: 60 years In The Limelight". BBC News. 2012-12-12. Retrieved 2020-12-23.
  4. ^ a b Galloway, Vic (15 April 2012). "The urban myth". The Herald. Retrieved 17 June 2015.
  5. ^ a b Brooks, Libby (30 April 2014). "Rhymes and reason: Scottish rappers take on voter apathy". The Guardian. Retrieved 4 April 2017.
  6. ^ Ross, Peter (12 August 2012). "Scottish hip-hop: Rap battles in the heart of Glasgow". The Scotsman. Retrieved 4 April 2017.
  7. ^ Rimmer, Jonathan (2 April 2015). "Politics & Ginger Jokes: The Weapons of Scottish Rap Battles". The National. Retrieved 3 July 2015.
  8. ^ Rimmer, Jonathan (1 December 2014). "BRISTO BATTLES ROUND UP". SSU Blog. Retrieved 3 July 2015.
  9. ^ Chris Mitchell (26 April 2015). "Soul Crowned New Don't Flop Champion". Retrieved 3 July 2015.
  10. ^ Rimmer, Jonathan (24 March 2014). "Independence & Hip Hop: Loki and the Referendum From an MC's Perspective". Scotland Standup Blog. Retrieved 3 July 2015.
  11. ^ Stanley Odd. Son, I Voted Yes. YouTube. Archived from the original on 2021-12-21. Retrieved 3 July 2015.
  12. ^ "Madhat McGore Fire In The Booth". BBC. Retrieved 3 July 2013.
  13. ^ Rimmer, Jonathan (25 July 2015). "Audio Soup festival puts the spotlight on hip hop". The National. Retrieved 4 October 2016.
  14. ^ Ross, Peter (13 November 2010). "Street dance is making headlines far from its roots in the Bronx in some of Scotland's most deprived communities". The Scotsman. Retrieved 26 July 2016.
  15. ^ Dunn, Ross (15 October 2013). "How break dancing united Irvine". Retrieved 7 November 2018.