Why Luke RV moved to Cardiff to kickstart his rap dream – and may have to leave to achieve it

The Neath-born rapper has just released his latest long-player ‘Are We There Yet?’

RAPPER Luke RV celebrates the release of his latest album with his first headline show in Cardiff this month but he already has his eyes on the next big step.

Luke, 28, calls the headline show at Clwb Ifor Bach on March 29 his “biggest moment so far” and marks the release of his “most fleshed out” work – the nine-track ‘Are We There Yet?’.

“I feel like I’m making the best music I ever have,” said Luke, who works in the care industry by day.

“I think the music is an authentic, relatable, South Walian experience. It’s quite honest and vulnerable.”

The album features the singles ‘Hole in One’ – which has racked up nearly 40,000 views on YouTube – and ‘Driver’s Seat’, on which Luke RV seamlessly transitions between a melodic chorus and a smooth rapping flow for his verse.

On ‘Driver’s Seat’ he teams up with fellow Welsh artist JUICE MENACE and he sees being part of the Cardiff scene as key to his development as a rapper. When he first thought about being a rapper six years ago, it didn’t seem achievable.

Luke is set for his debut headline show at the end of the month

“I started making music properly when I was 22,” he said.

“I started writing when I was 15 but I was maybe a bit worried about what people would think about it. Being from a small town like Neath, everyone has a lot to say.

“In Neath, most people listen to house music or bands. Not many people really listened to what I was listening to.”

Luke remembers travelling to Cardiff one evening to watch a Welsh rap event at the now demolished Gwdihŵ and being blown away that those on stage were rapping in a Welsh accent.

“I came up on my own and slept in my car under a bridge around the corner from the venue. I was just buzzing to meet people who liked the same music as me,” he recalls.

“I couldn’t get over the fact that people were rapping in Welsh accents in Cardiff. I was like, I need to move up here and start doing that.”

Soon after that night, Luke started to go to a studio in Newport where he would begin recording music and says he “fell in love with it and never stopped”.

He released his first single ‘Lost’, in 2018. The first line of the single showcases the vulnerability which has become a feature of Luke’s music, as he raps ” feel lost, and I need you to find me” over a piano-based instrumental with an old school hip hop sounding beat.

‘Lost’ was followed up by Luke’s debut EP, ‘Purgatory’, later that year.

‘Driver’s Seat’ was the lead single for Luke’s latest project

Since then, he has released a number of projects. He sees ‘Are We There Yet?’ as the latest addition to a series which tell the story of his growth as an artist.

“The first project was called ‘Going Nowhere’ and that was about me feeling like I was doing so much work but feeling like I’m still in the same place”, he said.

“I called the next one ‘WHAT’S THAT, over there’ which was a bit more hopeful after I’d had some success as a rapper. This latest one is me motivating myself to keep going, because I feel like I’m nearly there.”

Luke moved to Cardiff, the home of Welsh rappers such as Mace the Great and Local, to further his career a few years after he started rapping.

Living in Cardiff has given Luke opportunities to work with other artists and perform at bigger shows. Last year, he opened up for London rapper Bawo in Clwb Ifor Bach on his UK tour.

Luke grew up in Neath but moved to Cardiff to pursue a rap career

However, Luke believes to take his career to the next step he may have to move to London.

“Getting to play at the Bawo show was a great night for me but it’s difficult to grow a fanbase if you’re based in Wales,” he said.

“It’s hard to get your songs played on BBC Radio Wales as a rapper and it’s basically impossible to have your song put on one of their playlists, which is really how you increase your music’s exposure.

“It’s also hard to play big shows in Wales because a lot of artists on tour won’t even come to Wales, they’ll go to Bristol and then have MCs from there as their support acts.”

Luke believes that if the next generation of Welsh rap and hip hop artists are going to thrive in their own country, they need to be given more opportunities for airplay and gigs, which other genres may take for granted.

“Myself, and artists like Mace the Great, have managed to put on headline shows but we need to see more.”

  • Following the headline show at Clwb Ifor Bach on March 29, Luke is planning a tour in 2025.