Southampton’s hip-hop heritage

Hip-hop and grime are often cultural aspects of growing cities that are over-looked outside of England’s capital city, however, Southampton is a city writhing with talent and historical heritage. With venues spreading from corner to corner, and youth talent breaking into the limelight at every given opportunity, where and who should you be looking out for?

This article will offer a breakdown of the past, present and future of Southampton’s hip-hop culture, celebrating the city in all its glory.

Locations and spots:

Starting in the City Centre, O2’s Guildhall is not only a historical landmark littered with aesthetic pleasure, but also provides an iconic stage for some of the planet’s most well-known acts. As one of Southampton’s largest venues, other than that of Saint’s St Marys of course, it is situated five minutes from Central Station with access to parking, other modes of public transport and bars to suit a relaxed, or even the more energetic evening of music.

But who has performed here… surely no one of notable hip-hop mastery? You’d be wrong!

The venue has seen Example, Snoop Dogg, and has Papa Roach on the cards for 2019.

How about a far more hands-on, intimate experience? Where are the performers SO close, you feel every verse? Well, St Marys’ Joiners Bar has become a favourite amongst budding grime artists. In 2018, they welcomed grassroots musician slowthai to the stage – in which an anti-governmental, anti-hierarchal movement swept the venue.

However, to get a real feel for the age-old hip-hop culture then you have to delve deeper – enter Vinilo Record, Southampton’s independent record-shop.

Vinilo acts as a central hub for enthusiasts across the city, lining their shelves with ‘pre-loved’ and ‘new releases’ – even giving customers the opportunity to pre-order future albums. Don’t let the connotation of records lead you to assume this spot only sells older releases – everything from 6lack and Billie Eilish, to Tribe Called Quest and 2Pac are available. So, why not #SupportYourLocal?



Whilst on the topic of #SupportYourLocals, this would be a good point to introduce two of Southampton’s up-and-coming hip-hop artists, currently gracing many of the local stages.

Philadelphia’s Defcon Lawless has been active for a number of years now, yet it’s only recently that he has decided to grab opportunities with both hands. His relaxed flow and charismatic metaphors entice the crowd, drawing in audience simply based on love of music alone.

He draws inspiration from the old-skool, early 90’s flow; infusing positivity within his personal life and including douses of childhood memories.

Heartbreakers was the location of Defcon’s first headline gig, which is set to be followed on March 23rd at The Loft. To add to this, he’s even supporting Southampton-natives The Band of Skulls in their upcoming tour!

4bz (pronounced, four-b-z), is the standout name amongst Southampton’s plethora of grime MCs, currently taking the south by storm.

This feature is fitting considering 2019’s February was re-branded “Forbesuary” by the artist, to celebrate four consecutive weeks of new music being released on streaming platforms.

4bz headlined alongside Defcon Lawless at the Heartbreakers gig, helping put Southampton’s independent hip-hop scene on the map in a big way.

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