With their model WAGs, £600,000 homes and diamond encrusted Rolexes, Albanian rappers certainly appear to be doing well for themselves in the UK – despite never topping the charts.
Performers such as MGee and Lucii are among the dozens of drill artists to amass thousands of Spotify and YouTube subscribers thanks to their songs – which often promote gun crime and drugs while taking a shot at Britain’s institutions.
It comes as their countrymen continue to dominate the international cocaine market, flooding Britain’s streets with the Class A drug and using extreme violence, including executions, to deal with anyone who stands in their way.
In social media posts and music videos, some rap stars appear to support the criminal lifestyle as they mock British police, who they brand ‘pigs’, while boasting of owning Skorpion machine guns and sharing advice on how to break into car windows.
While some rappers insist they have no links to the criminal underbelly, for others, the lines appear more blurred. The Hellbanianz gang, for example, is highly feared on the streets of London and has many rappers in its ranks, and multiple members in prison.
An alleged Hellbanianz member posts a picture of two gang members wearing red balaclavas emblazoned with the Albanian flag, while one brandishes a machine gun
The group sparked outrage last year when it released a music video showing armoured vehicles fitted with heavy machine guns parading around a housing estate in the capital.
It came as ‘Falcons’ Fabion ‘Gucci’ Kuci and Azem ‘Ziro’ Dajci brazenly filmed themselves inside prison cells at Wormwood Scrubs as they awaited sentencing for burglary and posted pictures and footage to Instagram and YouTube.
Their social media presence – including rap videos – is feared to be part of an elaborate PR campaign to ‘recruit footsoldiers’ from Albania by tempting them with wads of cash and luxury cars.
It was found last year that many of the Albanian youngsters who leave for England are boys who believe traffickers’ tales they can get rich quickly in the UK – and many do so without their parents’ consent.
Just this week, an Instagram story posted by rapper Lucii – who has never revealed his real face and is not part of the Hellbanianz gang – showed wads of cash piled up next to dozens of old Apple iPhones.
He was also seen zooming through British streets in a luxury 4×4 with fellow artist Hek, as they both flashed their jewel encrusted Rolex watches.
Lucii, who dons a variety of Satan-like masks in his videos, has 125,000 Instagram followers to whom he posts pictures of himself with bikini-clad women and videos driving expensive cars.
Elsewhere, K Koke, a British rapper who works with Albania’s biggest stars and often visits the country, takes a swipe at the Royal Family, rapping: ‘That ting beat like Steel Banglez, It bang kids like Prince Andrew.’
Albanian rapper Lucii dons his signature Satan-like mask as he poses with a group of lingerie-clad women on his Instagram page
Albanian rapper Lazy with his model wife Amina Shena Dollapi, who has worked on campaigns with the likes of Guess
Model Amina Shena Dollapi, the wife of Albanian rap star Lazy
Albanian rapper Lyrical Son with his wife Gresa, left, while right, K Koke and his partner
Koke is the director of the Stay Bizzy rapping collective which features multiple Albanian performers.
In another video, London-based Albanian Ya Goddy boasts about being car chased by police, who he brands pigs, with one clip showing him being pulled over and handcuffed by two actors posing as Metropolitan Police officers.
MGee also mocks police in one of his music videos, as he and a group of rappers flash their gang sign at a passing patrol car.
In his music video for his song Chico, uploaded to YouTube three weeks ago, MGee is seen surrounded by wrapped packages clearly meant to look like drug bales.
It comes after Albanian rapper Dijonis Biba hit the news in 2020 when he posted ‘instruction videos’ on YouTube to boast about his knowledge of how to sneak into Britain illegally.
Making a mockery of the UK, his guides, which were viewed more than 100,000 times, included tips on using fake IDs, airports where these false documents will not be detected and claiming asylum. He now appears to be living in Dubai.
And this week, London-based artist OG Merks made the headlines for taking a pop at the Government’s clampdown on Channel crossings in a new music video.
Albanian rapper Lucii poses with a gun on a rooftop in Albania
London-based Albanian rapper Ya Goddy poses in front of a Rolls Royce (right), while left, rapper MGee
Albanian rappers appear to continue to record their music video despite being asked to leave a UK car park by security
The rapper derides a speech by Home Secretary Suella Braverman during the clip on YouTube for his song ‘Marco From Tropoja’. The 34-year-old can be seen in the video with masked men in a room where the Albanian national flag is hanging up.
The rapper puts a wad of cash through a counting machine, while Mrs Braverman’s speech about the ‘surge’ of Albanians ‘abusing modern slavery laws’ can be heard.
He then shouts to ‘turn up the volume’ in Albanian before walking over to the television, aggressively kicking it and throwing it on to a table.
The song’s title references the name of an Albanian gang leader in the 2008 Liam Neeson film ‘Taken’ about a kidnapped girl, and the area where the character is from.
While he has not enjoyed mainstream success in the UK charts, OG Merks has more than 4,500 monthly listeners on Spotify, and nearly 3,000 YouTube subscribers.
The rapper also once featured on the BBC Asian Network, when he rapped for ‘Hype On The Mic’ hosted by DJ Limelight and Kan D Man in November 2018.
He was most recently on the electoral roll as living in a three-bedroom terraced house in Bromley, South East London, which Zoopla estimates is worth £600,000.
Now, the rapper has been criticised by the charity Shpresa Programme, which promotes the participation of Albanian-speaking refugees and migrants in the UK.
A spokesman for the London-based group told the Daily Telegraph: ‘Rappers like him are a problem in our community.
‘They are giving a bad example to young people in the Albanian community. They are a bad example to other young people in Albania who want to get to the UK.’
In a Hellbanianz music video released last year, masked men cruise around a London estate in an armoured fighting vehicle equipped with a .30 calibre machine gun
A video shared on YouTube showed Albanian gangster rappers driving military vehicles fitted with heavy machine guns around a British housing estate
But it’s no surprise Albanian youngsters want to emulate their country’s biggest rap stars.
A quick search on social media shows the likes of Lyrical Son and Lazy enjoying the party lifestyle at expensive nightclubs in Albania, before going home to their statuesque wives.
Lazy is married to model Amina Shena Dollapi, who has worked on campaigns with the likes of Guess. She regularly posts modelling snaps to her 320,000-plus Instagram followers.
But following backlash for his latest video, OG Merks took to social media to insist he had ‘brought up with respect and morals’ and criticised reports for ‘trying to tarnish my character rather than addressing the problem’.
He said in a lengthy Instagram post: ‘Good morning. Woke up to some alarming news today that my name has been used across many UK newspapers regarding my video ‘Marco From Tropoja’ which was released on 03.12.22 .
The rapper walks over to the television, then aggressively kicks it and throws it on to a table
The TV is destroyed in the clip on YouTube for the rapper’s song ‘Marco From Tropoja’
‘As an artist I express myself through my music. At this time Suella Braverman was stating that all Albanians living in the UK are criminals (THIS IS CLEARLY NOT TRUE) and as an artist I expressed this by smashing a TV in my music video.
‘The money in that music video is all prop money hired from a UK entertainment company that specialises in props.
‘Anybody who knows me knows that I (have) been brought up with respect and morals.’
Almost 13,000 Albanian nationals crossed the Channel by small boat last year, up from just 800 in the previous 12 months.
Numbers dropped off from the autumn but Home Office officials have warned they expect another surge in Albanian arrivals this spring.
Many lodge claims in Britain’s asylum system or under ‘modern slavery’ rules.
Figures published earlier this month showed modern slavery claims reached a record high last year, boosted by a steep rise in Albanian applications.
Albanian gangster Marsel Meco, pictured left with another inmate, took this picture from within an unknown British prison after being jailed for money laundering, even writing gang name Hellbanianz above the door
A group of migrants are brought into Dover, Kent, on board a Border Force vessel last Thursday
Of 16,938 modern slavery claims lodged in 2022, 4,613 were made by Albanian nationals, up 84 per cent year-on-year, Home Office data showed.
Last November senior officials from ‘Britain’s FBI’ warned that Albanian criminals are committing ‘blatant manipulation’ of modern slavery laws.
The National Crime Agency said Albanian organised crime groups are bringing workers into Britain by small boat to work in the drugs trade, and coaching them on how to exploit modern slavery laws if they are arrested.
Mr Sunak signed a joint communique with Albanian PM Edi Rama in December setting out how they will fight illegal migration.