Six unsigned UK rappers travel to Manchester and get to compete in what’s been dubbed ‘the UK’s rap Olympics,’ performing, living together and competing to win a once-in-a-lifetime £20,000 cash prize, mentorship with Krept, Konan and Target to help the winning artist create and launch their own music following the series and a 12-month development course with Doctored Sounds.
Each week the artists are set two challenges in which they will be asked to step up and show that they have got the hardest bars, the song writing abilities, and the stage presence to cut it in the music industry, whilst trying to impress Krept, Konan and Target, and each week’s guest mentors, too.
Meet their mentors Krept, Konan and DJ Target, and hear what they have to say about this latest series.
The Rap Game UK is a 6x60' series made by Naked Television for BBC Three. It is commissioned by Fiona Campbell, Commissioning Director BBC Three; Patrick McMahon and Muslim Alim are the BBC Commissioning Editors. Steve Earley and Gregor Lauder are Executive Producers.
Q&A with Krept
How does it feel to be on the fourth series of The Rap Game UK?
Just positive, and it obviously means we’re doing something right. Every single year we’ve been nominated for something - we’ve had viral moments and people have loved it; we’ve had great feedback across the previous series so it’s clear how great of a show we’re creating. So, yes, it’s really exciting to be back on series four, to bring it back bigger and better than before.
What makes this season stand out in comparison to the last three, and how do you feel you, Konan and Target have grown as mentors?
With this series we had a lot more input which we appreciated, we were able to get involved more with the decisions and choices - even down to the talent and how the challenges are done. I think it made this series as authentic, from our perspective, as possible, and you can see that this season is probably going to be the most competitive season yet, for those reasons as well.
What moment from this season was the most notable for you?
When the artists had to do the ‘letter to yourself,’ I think. Just because we went through the whole show just seeing one side of them, and when they had to write the letter to themselves we found out a lot about each individual artist, things that we didn’t know before that were really personal to them. Everybody had a different story and it reminded us that everyone is going through different things. So, that was definitely the most memorable.
You mentioned you were quite involved in picking the artists this year alongside Konan and DJ Target. What were you looking for in terms of talent, and do you feel like you found it?
Yes, definitely. We really just wanted the competition to be as competitive as possible and it has been - this is the closest in terms of the competition that it's ever been. In the previous series, there’s always been someone that stands out, but this time around we literally don’t know who’s going to win - it could go any way and that’s a credit to the standard of the artists this year.
What was your favourite challenge this year?
The clash is always top entertainment, especially this time round it was just too funny, as you’ll see. There’s just so much back and forth, and they’re going after each other and really upping the ante, and as we’ve said before - the talent levels are exceptional this year so that made it a lot more competitive.
What are you looking for in a winner this year?
Star factor, great lyricism, stage presence and just someone that’s willing to go out and make it themselves - they’re not going to sit around and wait for someone to pull strings for them and make stuff happen, they’re going to get up and go and get it. That’s the kind of artist that you want to win because they're only destined for greatness. I’m looking for an artist that is and will stay hungry - if you want to be a winner of course be talented, but you’ve got to be hungry, too.
Q&A with Konan
What would you say about the calibre of acts you've had on the show in this series?
They’re all so talented, have their own individual stories, and their own individual sounds so it’s a really great cohort this year - everyone has brought something different to the table.
How would you say you, Krept and DJ Target have evolved as mentors from the first series to now?
In the process of series one to now, it’s helped to be in it to know and understand what works - knowing what the viewers are looking for and what entertains them, but also knowing what we’re looking for in a winner and how we can get the best out of these artists and guide them in the right direction. Just going through it the past three years, and the experience we’ve had has helped us evolve in this new series.
Was there a single point when you started filming that you realised this would be a great series?
Just by looking at the auditions, we knew this was going to be a great series: the artists this year, just in terms of watching their [audition] tapes, seeing how they attack the beats and their deliveries and style, straight off the jump we knew this was going to be hot. They were bringing a lot to the table because a lot of people applied for the chance.
The Rap Game UK is the only show of its kind at the moment that looks specifically at rap talent. Why should it be a staple on UK television?
Representation is essential and the culture needs to be represented more on TV. Rap is, and has been, taking over the UK music scene for some time now - we’ve seen drill artists go to number one in the charts, so there’s definitely a space for it. The different sounds coming out of the UK all deserve the chance to be heard and highlighted.
What was your favourite challenge this year?
My favourite challenge this year was the clash - it always is - anything to do with banter I love. I find it so funny when they go head to head because you just never know what they’re going to say, plus its great to see what the artists are capable of. It’s always really friendly before we drop the clash, then as soon as we do the competition comes out - but always in a friendly way. You really don’t know who’s going to win and what they’re going to pull out of the bag.
What are you looking for in a winner this year?
Consistency. One good challenge isn’t enough. and just somebody that’s going to work hard and take advantage of this opportunity. I’ve seen people with so much potential whilst they’re on the show just not carry it on when they leave. I want someone that will put in the work, be self-sufficient, put themselves out there and keep consistent - dropping music, freestyles, anything. We want to see someone become a superstar from this platform.
There’s a surprise twist in this series, what do you think this new element is going to add to the show, and to the artists themselves?
I think it adds a certain element of jeopardy, and just makes clear what they already know: no nobody is safe. There’s no sailing through, and you have to bring it 100 percent in order to succeed, but this is the game - and it’s the same in this competition as much as it is outside, you can’t coast through, you’ve always got to be ready because in the real world it’s way harder, and more ruthless.
Q&A with DJ Target
The Rap Game UK is now in its fourth series, how are you feeling about this, and did you ever imagine it getting here?
I’m so excited that we’re about to head into our fourth series - it’s been such a fun and great experience filming the show for the past four years and seeing the journeys of the artists we’ve been able to mentor for a few weeks. Looking back, when we first started we had no idea how people would react to the show and if they’d enjoy it, we definitely weren’t thinking as far as a fourth series. We just wanted to make something that felt authentic and that the culture and rap fans could be proud of. We felt like once we got that part right we’d be good, but we couldn’t have imagined how well it’d do - it’s been amazing.
What makes this particular series stand out to you, compared to the previous three, if anything?
As mentors, we’ve just learned so much more as we’ve gone along each time. With each new series, each new set of artists we’re learning how we can improve it, we’re learning about ourselves and what we want, and are looking for in the winners. We’ve tried to level up every single time and this year, in particular, the competition has been amazing because of the talent and it’s all so close. There are also a few twists and turns that haven’t been a part of series one, two and three, so it definitely feels like it’s one of the best, and most exciting yet. It feels like a very natural progression to get to this level of the show.
What has the talent been like this year and what are you personally looking for in a winner?
We’ve seen some incredible talent across the last three years of the show, but this year the six we have just brought it. Everybody is different, and they’re all bringing different strengths to the table, as well as having varying degrees of their experience - some have been doing it for years, some only started in the pandemic, so it’s a great range.
What makes a winner would be someone that can not only can hold their own in the competition, but outside of it too because they’ll be up against the entire rap world, which, as we know is at a very high level at the moment. The winner has to really has to be able to hold their own and have the ability to build an exciting brand - we’re looking for the artist to tick as many boxes as possible and those boxes come in all different shapes and sizes, it’s not one size fits all. It’s the growth, development and the progression of each that we find the most rewarding so whatever their level, they’ll gain a different, and equally unique experience.
There’s a surprise in this series that hasn’t been done before - what did that element of uncertainty add to the show?
Throwing the twist in from the first episode really had everybody on their toes, nobody knew what or where or when things would change. We kept it very vague, but we just made sure the artists understood that this new switch-up meant the stakes are even higher, so it definitely increased the intensity of competition overall.
There are a lot of exciting guest mentors on the show this series, what do you feel like they all brought in terms of the challenges they were part of?
We’ve had some major names across the last three series, and this year wasn’t any different - we selected mentors we felt would work well in the respective challenges because they had an understanding or relation to it, and it was great to have a new pair of ears and eyes take a look and listen to the artists and give their feedback, and sometimes constructive criticism. It was inspiring for the artists, also, some of these guest mentors are their musical heroes, or they’re big fans so bringing in a different person, having a different perspective every week was beneficial to them, for sure.
Were there any key or memorable moments that stood out or did you have a favourite challenge?
I loved the clash - that’s always a favourite, but this year I really enjoyed the video challenge that the artists were given, there was a little twist to that this year too. Also, the ‘letter to yourself’ challenge was a great challenge - the artists really had to be vulnerable and open up on that one, and we got to learn a lot about where they came from, and things they’d gone through. There was a lot of emotion after that one so I really enjoyed it, and we got to see some people really begin to stand out.
This is the second series that the show is in Manchester, what is great about the city as a location for the show?
I’ve always loved Manchester, and long before we ever did the show it used to show me as much love as London did when I was just starting out as a DJ and I’d travel up there for shows. Manchester has got such a great history when it comes to music outside of Rap, taking it back to the likes of Oasis and the Stone Roses and that era of UK music right the way to artists influencing the Rap scene heavily today, like Bugzy Malone and Aitch.
In terms of location, to film here is really exciting, there are so many great pieces of architecture and history like the Victoria Bath Houses, and the Albert Hall, which is iconic and that we shot at. The whole city has a way of really inspiring you.