Black British National Anthems [Part Two]

TRENCH x Union Black present more of the essential cuts that have moved a nation of Black British music lovers.

DJ Spyro mixes within the crowd during a set at Keep Hush by Laura BrosnanTRENCH

Black British National Anthems

TRENCH x Union Black present more of the essential cuts that have moved a nation of Black British music lovers. From Lord Kitchener, Smiley Culture and Janet Kay to Congo Natty, Estelle and JME, we give praise for these epic cuts. 

Lord Kitchener - "London Is The Place For Me"

A 1948 calypso song by Aldwyn Roberts aka Lord Kitchener. Famously singing the first two stanzas of "London Is the Place for Me" on camera for reporters upon arrival at Tilbury Docks on the HMT Empire Windrush, and was recorded by Pathé News cameras.

Smiley Culture - "Cockney Translation"

Released in 1984, a few years after the Brixton riots. Utilising Cockney slang and patois to talk about different cultures and races living together in London, the song became a hit and is a UK Black classic. 

Janet Kay - "Silly Games"

Written by Dennis Bovell, first released in 1979 as a single by Janet Kay, it reached no.2 in the UK charts. 

Lynden David Hall - "Sexy Cinderella"

Taken from his debut 1998 album, Medicine 4 My Pain, winning him Best Newcomer at the MOBOs. In 2003 South Londoner Hall was diagnosed with Hodgkin's Lymphoma; he sadly passed away on 14 February 2006, at the age of 31.

Gabrielle - "Dreams"

"Dreams" originally included a sample of "Fast Car" by Tracy Chapman, but due to copyright reasons the sample had to be removed. Released as Gabrielle's debut single, it entered the UK Singles Chart at number two.

M Beat feat. General Levy - "Incredible"

"Incredible", released in 1994,  was the first jungle track to reach the top 10 in the UK.

Congo Natty - "Junglist"

Released on white label in 2004 with a remix courtesy of DJ Zinc.

Kele Le Roc - "My Love"

In 1999, "My Love" won a MOBO Award for Best Single. Several remixes of the song became underground anthems in the UK too.

Estelle - "American Boy"

The song reached the top five in many European countries, and peaked at number-one in Belgium and the UK. It achieved success in the United States, peaking at number nine on the Billboard Hot 100 and becoming Estelle's breakout song in the country.

Ms Dynamite feat. Sticky - "Booo!"

At the time of release in 2005, NME said of "'Booo!'...Makes Missy Elliott sound like Julie Andrews."

Heartless Crew - "Heartless Theme"

In 2002, Heartless Crew could be heard presenting their Sunday evening show on BBC 1Xtra. After releasing the compilation album, Heartless Crew presents 'Crisp Biscuit Vol 1' on East West, their debut single -"The Heartless Theme" a.k.a "The Superglue Riddim" - came soon after.

Swiss - "Cry"

Damage - "Ghetto Romance"

Skepta feat. JME - "That's Not Me"

The ultimate throwback to grime's golden era courtesy of the Adenuga brothers.

More Fire Crew - "Oi!"

"Oi" became one of the first garage-come-grime tracks to receive attention outside of London, peaking at number 8 on the official UK Singles Chart.

Sweet Female Attitude - "Flowers"

Donae'o - "Party Hard"

Donae'o (meaning Gift from God), is a British producer, singer, songwriter and rapper from North-West London. 

Egypt - "In The Morning"

Malika (FKA Meleka) - "Go"

Ruff Sqwad - "Anna / Down"

According to Prince Rapid of Ruff Sqwad, Dirt Danger's production on "Down" was an introduction to the half-time beat productions which crossed between Hip-Hop and UKG - a time when grime didn't yet have a name.

Crazy Cousinz & Kyla - "Do You Mind"

DJ Luck & MC Neat - "A Little Bit Of Luck"

Misteeq - "Why?"

Originally a mid-tempo R&B track, it was remixed into an uptempo UK garage remix by Matt Jam Lamont and DJ Face. Released as a single in January 2001, it reached number eight on the UK Singles Chart.

Jammer - "Murkle Man"

Jahmek Levi Selassie Power aka Jammer, became the superhero you didn't know you needed with the release of "Murkleman" in 2005. Jammer's also a member of Boy Better Know and a former member of N.A.S.T.Y Crew.

JME - "Serious!"

Jamie Agenuga aka JME's debut single, released in 2006, bringing a fresh new delivery and style to the grime scene and beyond. 

Skepta - "Shutdown"

The video for "Shutdown" was the last music video aired on MTV Base UK before its closure on 31st March 2022. 

Mr Figit feat. Donae'o - "Bounce"

Also known as "My Philosophy".

Klashnekoff - "It's Murda"

A 92bpm rap classic, Klashnekoff's "Murda" is generally recited word-for-word at any good UK rap club night or party - don’t be caught slipping. 

Roots Manuva - "Witness (1 Hope)"

A crowd react to Naira Marley at his London live show by Laura BrosnanTRENCH

This digital work has been produced in collaboration with PRS Foundation and POWER UP. The article first featured in TRENCH x Union Black's Chapter One: Game Changers zine.

Credits: Story

Curated by TRENCH x Union Black 
Photography by Laura Brosnan [via Frank Archives]

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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