London pop rapper Frazer is getting chummy with Brit music executives. Yet with continued reluctance on hip hop as a viable seller in the UK, no one will step forward presently. Why? Media and creative folks including Xfm radio’s Eddy Temple Morris and buzzing Remi Nicole producer Johnny Douglas have worked with and supported Frazer this past year only to find out there’s a new round of relevant interest coming from big name producers over in the States. Incidentally, as an export, Brit urban music’s rate of success in the U.S. compared to that of Brit rock is almost non existent when you take a closer look. This isn’t saying much considering there’s generally a consistent Yank backlash towards anglo rooted rock as well (with the noted exceptions of Radiohead, Coldplay, Snow Patrol, Keane).
What would it take for the North American audience to embrace a new face other than Mike Skinner (The Streets)? There’s been little U.S. interest in the UK Grime movement — heck there’s been little UK interest in this underground genre from a mass commercial perspective, yea? Part of the reason for the lack of U.S. success may be that the UK production values for hip hop/urban tend to trail what’s happening in the American scene by more than a few years shall we say. The U.S. stars are probably more successful exporting their goods simply because most are “wrapped” up in a disguised format of crossover pop, cross promotion, image and fashion projection, and aptly timed publicity. What did work internationally for the Brits at one point was sugar coating “beats” music with synth and electronic nuances resulting in artists like Massive Attack, Portishead, Sneaker Pimps, Faithless and Tricky etc. Or better yet (sales-wise), editing a brief MC bridge into a song by an act like the Spice Girls or Sugababes.
Some of the most well known modern rock bands (The Strokes, The Killers) literally modeled their sound around 70s and 80s Brit songwriters subsequently exporting themselves to the UK for a test run followed by a return to the States to both critical and commercial gain. Can UK rap artists reverse this strategy -or- because they’re not from the loins of hip hop’s insurgent communities NY, LA and Oakland they’ll never be tolerated as the genuine article? For now, Frazer may be taking a step in the right direction.