Where Is Scarlxrd’s Place In The UK Scene?

I don’t remember much about how I first stumbled across Scarlxrd, real name Marius Listhrop, I just recall seeing the thumbnail for his song ‘HEART ATTACK’ as a recommended video on YouTube and clicking on it out of morbid curiosity. The comment section was littered with comparisons to the late XXXTentacion, largely due to the screamed delivery of his trap inspired flow and I suspect, in part, due to his mess of dreadlocks and light skin. Upon seeing the video for the now viral track (the video sits at 31 million views at the time of writing) it was clear to me that I was witnessing an artist with more edges than a dodecahedron, his music sounds like the kind of fusion of rock and rap that I thought would be a good idea when I was in Year 10 and yet I was fascinated by it.

While being able to get some enjoyment out of his music, Scarlxrd gradually sank to the depths of my subconscious and I may have completely forgotten about him were it not for British rock publication Rock Sound revealing that the rapper would be gracing the cover of Issue 240.1. I was taken aback to say the least; I’ve been reading Rock Sound since secondary school and in that time I had never seen a rapper in their pages, let alone on the cover. Seeing Scarlxrd on the cover was a pleasant surprise but I did find it somewhat perplexing that a magazine dedicated to genres like pop punk and post-hardcore were so readily embracing an artist most of their readership had probably never heard of while outlets committed to documenting urban music seem to be unaware of his existence.

One music publication that have taken notice of Scarlxrd is Noisey, releasing an episode of their Noisey Raps series entitled ‘Who The Fxck is SCARLXRD?’. The video opens with the  musician screaming into a microphone, a perfect summary of what to expect from his songs. He sits and tells Noisey that the UK rap scene is in a good place right now but that he ‘doesn’t particularly fit into that’ but is that really true? The success of  artists like slowthai and Denzel Himself are testaments to the fact that listeners in the UK are open to hearing something a little different but is Scarlxrd just too out there?

Rock Sound #240 - July 2018

Rock Sound dubbed Scarlxrd’s music as Trap Metal which seems fitting enough. His music is a ferocious combination of crunchy guitars, harsh screams and screeches along with skittering Hi-Hats and booming 808s. The sound Scarlxrd creates in his home studio in Dungeness is rap, that is an objective truth but maybe he is simply too different to be considered a proper part of the UK scene. His first ever magazine cover sees him donning his trademark mask, one reminiscent of Ken Kaneki’s from the anime Tokyo Ghoul and he’s wearing eye contacts that look suspiciously similar to the ocular power known as Rinnegan from Naruto. He’s perpetually dressed in black, covered in tattoos and his lyrics are unflinchingly emo, ‘This fucking life really sounds like Hell’ from ‘Lies Yxu Tell’ being one of the more light hearted lines you’re likely to hear from him.

Admittedly, the screaming that is so omnipresent in Scarlxrd’s music may simply be too much for some listeners to digest, it’s more akin to Bring Me The Horizon than it is Boy Better Know but it is only one half of the whole that is Scarlxrd. Beneath all the yelling and shrieking, a true appreciation of the DNA of rap can be heard and it is a large part of Scarlxrd’s genetic makeup; at times he even delivers tongue twistingly quick verses that any Lyrical Miracle MC would be proud of. The sonic draws from American influences more than it does any UK sounds with his most recent project DXXM featuring plenty of triplet flows and a healthy serving of ‘ayes’ but if a sound native to the US was enough to disqualify an artist from our scene, UK drill wouldn’t be experiencing the cultural relevance that it currently does.

Maybe appearing in the pages of rock magazines is what Scarlxrd is destined for. Perhaps he’ll go on to tear up the stages at Download Festival and were it not coming to an end this year, I’m sure he would have become a main fixture at the Vans Warped Tour. If he goes on to win awards, they will likely be Kerrang! Awards rather than MOBOs. The rapper has openly admitted that he does not fit snugly into the UK rap scene and he doesn’t really seem to want to, he’s spoken about being more into the likes of Smokepurpp, Lil Pump and the aforementioned XXXTentacion and stylistically he certainly has more in common with them than he does anyone on these shores.

In 2018 the UK urban music scene is a wonderfully diverse and colourful jigsaw but if you’ve ever tried to force a piece from an entirely different puzzle into place then you’ll know that something that was not designed to fit never will. Maybe there is no place for Scarlxrd in the UK’s rap scene but that doesn’t change the fact that he will be embarking on a UK headline tour this September and it doesn’t change the fact that his chaotic blend of genres catapulted him across the world to Rock am Ring festival in Germany. Whether UK rap welcomes him or not, it seems that the only way for Scarlxrd is up.

Written by /
Published /
June 20
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Features