Since amassing a loyal fanbase on Myspace and breaking through with her debut album, ‘Alright, Still’ in 2006, Lily Allen has always been a staple of British music. Through her many albums and singles, she has shown her range of influences through her music, from R&B and soul to reggae and hip hop.
But her love for the UK scene has also shone through the past decade, from showing up at the very first GRM Rated Awards, teasing collabs with 67 and Youngs Teflon and showing her anger and dissapointment at the lack of representation for the grime scene at the 2016 Brit Awards. With a number of collaborations and features popping up over the past months [which, we’ll get into!] and a 2018 album on the cards, we thought we’d bring you a definitive list of 6 times Lily Allen linked up with the UK scene…
Burna Boy feat. Lily Allen – Heaven’s Gate 
Let’s start with the most recent collaboration, which saw Allen link up with Nigerian man of the moment, Burna Boy. ‘Heaven’s Gate’s’ upbeat speed draws a distinct comparison from his usual mid-tempo style and even has Burna singing in patois – injecting a breezy dancehall vibe. This sounds works perfectly alongside Allen’s unique style, fusing a cockney flow with an effortless, laidback delivery. Being only the second release since her 2014 album, ‘Sheezus’, the sound of Allen on a dancehall laced track is long overdue and it is no coincidence that the two blend so well.
Lily Allen feat. Giggs – Trigger Bang 
Talking on Lily Allen’s extended hiatus, she returned with a bang [pun very much intended] in December of last year, linking up with the Landlord himself, Giggs. The track was set to be the lead single of her upcoming album but was leaked beforehand. Taking matters into her own hands, Allen dropped the official track on all streaming sites and the track was given great reviews all around, from fans and critics alike. The track, which is nominated for Best Collaboration at this year’s NME Awards, is a hard hitting bass filled hit with Giggs barking out his street sermon, with Allen providing a sweet hook which boosts the track, casually whetting her appetites for what else she has to deliver in 2018.
Professor Green feat. Lily Allen – Just Be Good To Green 
This next track is probably the most pop-focused track, with Professor using the track as one of the lead singles from his debut album, ‘Alive Till I’m Dead’. This period was transitional for many UK rappers, as they saw the bright lights of the mainstream and moulded their sound accordingly, including the likes of Tinchy Stryder, Roll Deep, Chipmunk and Tinie Tempah. This track, using the sample ‘Just Be Good To Me’, saw Green show off his credentials with Allen essentially stealing the show. Her appearance on the track added extra gravitas to proceedings, with a silky hook that proved to be both infectious and catchy in parts.
Stormzy feat. Kehlani & Lily Allen – Cigarettes & Kush 
This is a strange one because at the time of release, the inclusion of Allen on ‘Cigarettes & Kush’ off Stormzy’s 2017 debut album, ‘Gang Signs & Prayers’ was actually a mystery. It was only when Stormzy revealed in an interview that is was indeed Allen [“she sings the hook with me; she’s the high-pitched vocal”], that it was so obvious who it was. Her feature may seem small in part but adds to the overall layering and feel of the song as a whole. With a 90’s R&B flavour, the track is a twisted tale of love, anger, addiction and resolution.
Tinie Tempah feat. Lily Allen – Can’t Knock Em Out 
A year after Allen had burst onto the scene, it was clear of her star power and was only a matter of time before the collaborations started to roll in. 2007 also marked the first “official release” of South London rapper Tinie Tempah with ‘Hood Economics – Room 147: The 80 Minute Course’. While the 23 track project does include some hits [‘Tears’, ‘Wifey’, ‘Hood Economics’], the project also had some hidden gems, including a collaboration with Allen entitled ‘Cant Knock Em Out’. The track is comical, hilarious and outlays the sterotypes that men and women can easily fall into. The playful nature of the track makes its topic digestable, all while highlighting the talent of two future stars.
Dizzee Rascal feat. Lily Allen – Wanna Be 
‘Wanna Be’, Allen’s link up Dizzee Rascal is Lily Allen in top form, blending humor and bravado with a confident and powerful delivery. With a track that was based on ‘So You Want To Be a Boxer?’ from Bugsy Malone, the track could have easily fallen into a musical style parody. Instead, Allen made the hook her own [“what do you know about being a hardman, your mum buys your bling!”] and Dizzee showcased why he is one of the most respected UK rappers of our generation. The chemistry was clear throughout and if I could speculate on who Allen should enlist for a feature on the upcoming project, I would hope Rascal is towards the top of that list…