In many ways, we Brits are very similar to the American people. We loosely speak the same language – even though Americans insist on pronouncing herb like "URB!" – we both use iPhones all the time, many of us have the same haircuts, we take the same kinds of drugs, we fuck with the same films and essentially consume the same media.
But also, as the two parallel versions of The Office, Shameless and Skins will attest, there are loads of subtle but basic differences between our cultures. Stuff like how those of you in the US grew up drinking from red solo cups while fist pumping and playing beer pong in your mate's houses (according to all the teen movies I've seen, which are obviously completely accurate), while we in the UK grew up slugging Bacardi and dabbing MKAT on park benches with people with nicknames like "Weird Becs". Or how American national treasures are Oprah and Ellen and Obama, whereas our national treasures are people like Dermot O'Leary and Janine from Eastenders and Bruce Forsyth and the entire cast of Loose Women, who cannot be explained beyond a simple shrug and a quiet: "It's always been this way".
And then there's the music, which has overlapped and intertwined in a multitude of nuanced ways over the centuries – mainly via American artists reigning supreme and us Brits copying them afterwards – but which also has some key differences. Actually, scrap that, one key difference, and that is, as of this weekend: south London rapper Giggs.
When Drake dropped More Life on Saturday, American Twitter came out in full force to denounce the skills of Giggs, who does two extremely fire features on tracks "KMT" and "No Long Talk". If you read Noisey dot com on the regular, you will know we published a piece soon after, expressing why they are wrong, and outlining the ways in which Giggs has shaped UK rap culture – and therefore culture at large – for the better.
Obviously, though, that's just our perspective. And who are we to make sound judgements when our entire existence can be neatly summed up by this video of frankly wasted train passengers putting bagels on people's heads? To glean the valued opinions of our cousins across the pond, we in London contacted a bunch of Americans online and asked them why they've got a problem with Giggs, and why they think him rapping "Batman, DER NER NER DER NER" is not as cool as we do.
Noisey: So, Chris, tell me about your thoughts on Giggs.
Chris: On "KMT", Giggs did not belong on that song. Every time his verse comes on I pause and skip. His flow is sucking the life out of that song, on an album called More Life. The only UK rapper I like is Skepta because of his flow and lyrics, but I don't like Giggs' flow or lyrics.
What's wrong with Giggs' lyrics?! They're the best.
"I'm a black man, government earner/ batman, da-na-na-da-na." What do you think is the main difference between US and UK rappers?
US rappers are mainly about flow and not so heavy on lyrics, but UK rappers put all their work into lyrics and do not work on having a good flow and just speak in monotone. Giggs ruined two great songs that had potential. I feel like Drake was reaching too much to get new crowds to listen to his music.
Noisey: Hey Mariah. What were your first thoughts when you heard Giggs on More Life?
Mariah: My first thought was, 'Wow, this is different.' Drake likes to try new things and follow as well as set trends, so I was open to it. I am a huge Drake fan, but I felt like Giggs' parts did not fit that well into the songs, especially in "No Long Talk". I feel like Giggs' verse took away from Drake's style.
What is about Giggs' style that you're not into?
It's not that I don't like his style, it's just that I don't like his contribution to More Life. I felt like there were some lyrics that were juvenile and kind of dumb, especially in "KMT", although he did bring diversity to the album and it was different from what Drake usually puts out.
Noisey: Tell me about the realisation that you and Giggs do not gel.
Jacob: On my first listen to More Life I came across the track "No Long Talk". I was really feeling the track and amped to see a feature from this dude Giggs who I'd never heard of. When his verse came on, I was so confused as to what I was listening to. This was my same reaction to the song "KMT". Drake is held to a higher standard in the rap community, and Giggs was not up to that standard.
What specifically is it about him?
Specifically, his flow is wack. It doesn't go with the beats he's on. His mixing engineer did an awful job with his vocals, and he's got some weak bars.
What bars would you say are weak?
This is one of many that stand out to me … it's NOT a bar in any way, it's straight garbage: "I've got bitches in the Merky, swervin', lookin' all curvy/ And you already know that I love them breasts, lookin' all perky."
Do you think this a Giggs thing or a UK rap thing?
Well, Skepta is one of the best rappers coming out the UK. Ever since I heard him hop on the Flatbush Zombies track "Red Eye to Paris" I became an immediate fan. Giggs doesn't have the flow or wordplay to be even be compared to Skepta.
Noisey: Why are you not into Giggs, Juan?!
Juan: His style just sounds like talking on a beat. It was a very bad choice. It didn't really help Drake or help Giggs as an artist because both of his features on the project were mediocre.
Maybe that's just the UK style though…
I like Tinie Tempah from London. Not feeling Giggs at all. Probably never will either. But there is really no big difference between UK and US artists. Everyone can be great, it just takes time and a lot of practice. It doesn't matter where you come from. Just make good quality music. It's that simple.
Noisey: What's your problem with Giggs, Jade?
Jade: When I first heard Giggs I was initially very curious. Lately Drake has been throwing in a ton of different cultures into his work. I'm OK with being exposed to other expressions of rap and hip-hop. However, Giggs kind of made me giggle. It's probably me not being use to the British accent in a rapping format. Rap and hip-hop often take on a very hardcore tone in the States, but to my untrained ears the British accent doesn't give me that vibe.
I mean, that's fair enough…
I also don't really know the point Giggs was trying to make in his verses. That's fine because we all know plenty of American rappers who don't rap about anything at all (read: Desiigner and Young Thug). However, because I lack the cultural understanding of British slang/norms, Giggs' lyrics just fell flat for me… I'm not saying he's a "bad" artist. He might be the shit in the UK, but he just didn't do it for me.
Noisey: What's your beef with Giggs?
Nelson: The first time I heard him, I thought, 'Who the hell is this guy?' His speech pattern confused me, and I found it annoying that on one of the tracks he kept saying, "a – su – en". At first I thought it was fire, and then his lyrics just stopped making sense and his rhyme scheme was all over the place.
Do you not think he was a good choice then? He's pretty well-loved over here.
It was a bad choice – another artist would have done a better job.
Do you think it's a UK thing? What's the difference between UK and US rappers in general?
American rappers are a lot more violent and explicit and people don't think of UK people being violent. The police there can't even use a gun, so by nature, people just think of them all as soft.
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(Lead image via YouTube)