Estelle - "1980"
Album: The 18th Day Year released: 2005
"1980" has got a lively doo-wop vibe and is quite frankly a rare example of a successful British female rapping over a genuinely soulful hip-hop beat. In years to come Estelle, would go on to land an international top-10 hit with her single "American Boy" featuring none other than Kanye West, but this debut release chimes with an excited, happy sentiment that is almost unheard of elsewhere in U.K. hip-hop. Unlike most of the artists on this list, Estelle manages to present her working class London upbringing as something to be celebrated rather than resented (though the fact she was receiving mainstream label attention probably aided her positivity).