Hip hop lovers, are you tired of listening to the same mainstream artists over and over again? It’s time to switch things up and discover some fresh talent in the underground rap scene. We’ve compiled a list of the top rising underground rappers that you need to hear right now. From MF DOOM’s unmatched masked persona to Aesop Rock’s unique abstract lyrics and imagery, each artist on this list has their own style and sound that sets them apart from the rest. But what makes underground rappers stand out? In this blog, we’ll take a deeper dive into the artistry and uniqueness of each artist on our list and explore why they have become such a hit among fans who crave something different from mainstream hip hop. Get ready to add some new names to your playlist!
Top Rising Underground Rappers
Rap music has been revolutionized by rising underground rappers. Each rapper highlighted on the list possesses unique qualities and styles that have helped them gain popularity on social media and streaming platforms. Independent music labels have played a significant role in promoting these talented artists, who have faced numerous challenges breaking into the mainstream music industry. Make sure you show your support for these emerging talents by attending live shows or purchasing their music online today!
MF DOOM: The Masked Genius
MF DOOM was a prominent underground rapper who went by the name “The Masked Genius.” He had a distinctive style and persona that made him stand out in the rap industry. His lyrics were known for their intricate wordplay and allusions to comic books and pop culture. During performances and interviews, he would wear a metal mask that added to his enigmatic image. Some of his most popular albums include “Madvillainy” and “MM..FOOD.” Even though he passed away in 2020, MF DOOM’s legacy in the hip-hop genre continues to be felt today.
El-P: The Independent Hip Hop Legend
El-P, the independent hip hop legend, has been in the music industry for over two decades and gained popularity through his unique production style and political commentary in his songs. Starting as part of the group Company Flow before branching out on his own to pursue a successful solo career, El-P’s latest album “RTJ4” was well-received by fans and critics alike. Collaborating with various artists throughout his career has allowed him to experiment with different sounds while still staying true to his roots in underground rap. The Brooklyn-based artist’s influence can be felt through the independent hip-hop scene to this day.
Kool Keith: The Eccentric Rapper
Kool Keith, one of the most bizarre rappers in history, is famous for his unconventional style and eccentricity. Kool Keith’s unique flow and delivery have won him a devoted fan base and critical accolades within the hip-hop community. He has collaborated with other notable artists such as MF DOOM and Dan The Automator throughout his career, which began in the 1980s. This Brooklyn native’s lyrics frequently touch on topics like science fiction, horror, and surrealism, making him an outstanding lyricist among underground rappers.
Mos Def: The Conscious Rapper
Mos Def, also known as Yasiin Bey, is a Brooklyn-based rapper who gained fame through his politically-charged lyricism and collaborations with fellow underground artists like Talib Kweli and Wu-Tang Clan. Alongside Tupac Shakur and Nas, he is widely regarded as one of the greatest lyricists in hip-hop history. Mos Def’s powerful messages about social justice, racial inequality, and police brutality remain relevant today. His influence on contemporary rap music can be heard in artists like Kendrick Lamar and J.Cole.
Armani White: The Experimental Rapper
Armani White is a rising star in the underground rap scene to keep an eye on. His music is a perfect blend of hip hop, R&B, and rock. The experimental approach he takes towards music makes his songs unique and thought-provoking. He touches upon themes such as personal growth, mental health, and social issues in his lyrics. Armani White is definitely one of the best underground rappers out there who you should not miss out on.
Blu: The West Coast Classicist
Blu is a West Coast classicist who has amassed a following for his distinctive style and socially conscious lyricism. Alongside collaborating with fellow artists on producing powerful narratives through his music that infuse Jazz & Soul elements into classic hip-hop beats. Blu constantly challenges himself within the underground scene to stay ahead of the game while remaining true to his values. With a growing following of dedicated fans and tastemakers alike it’s not hard to see why he’s one of LA’s brightest stars in rap today.
J Dilla: The Legendary Producer-Rapper
The legendary J Dilla was not only a rapper but also an exceptional producer whose collaborations with A Tribe Called Quest and Common were unparalleled. During his tenure with the group Slum Village, he released several solo albums that showcased his creative genius. Even after his untimely demise in 2006, J Dilla’s influence on the underground rap scene continued to soar. His ability to sample music and employ innovative production techniques became a source of inspiration for upcoming producers and beat makers.
Joey Bada$$: The New School Wordplay Master
Joey Bada$$, the new school wordplay master from Brooklyn, gained fame with his mixtape “1999” in 2012. Known for his socially conscious lyrics, he touches on themes like racism, police brutality, and social inequality. Joey has become renowned for collaborating with artists such as J. Cole and Kendrick Lamar while emphasizing the importance of old-school hip-hop nostalgia in his music. This rising rapper’s intricate rhymes have captivated fans worldwide due to their complexity and depth of meaning.
Tech N9ne: The Independent Rap Mogul
With a career spanning over two decades, Tech N9ne is one of the most respected independent rap moguls today. He has released more than 20 studio albums, often incorporating his personal struggles and social issues into his music. His unique style blends elements of horrorcore, gangsta rap, and rock music, inspiring many other underground rappers to pursue their dreams without relying on major labels. Tech N9ne’s influence on the underground rap scene can still be felt today and continues to inspire upcoming artists worldwide.
Roc Marciano: The East Coast Boom Bap Specialist
Roc Marciano is a rapper from New York who has cemented his place in the underground rap scene with critically acclaimed albums like “Marcberg” and “Reloaded.” With his gritty old-school style and unique blend of boom bap and modern hip-hop, he has stood out among other East Coast rappers. Collaborations with other underground rappers like Action Bronson and Ka have further solidified Roc Marciano’s position as a leading figure in the current hip-hop scene. His lyrics offer insight into his life growing up in the city and struggles as an independent artist.
Talib Kweli: The Socially Conscious Rapper-Activist
Talib Kweli is a socially conscious rapper-activist who uses his music to address important issues like police brutality, racism, and social inequality. Collaborating with other well-known artists like Mos Def, Kanye West and Pharrell Williams has given him a platform to spread his message of hope and change through thought-provoking lyrics that inspire people to make a difference. Talib stands out in the underground rap scene for his commitment to activism and community building.
Aesop Rock: The Abstract Lyricist
Aesop Rock is an underground lyricist known for his intricate and cerebral rhymes. He seamlessly blends various genres in his music while touching on themes such as mental health awareness and social issues. His collaborations with indie rock band The Uncluded showcase his versatility as an artist. With a loyal fanbase among underground hip-hop fans, Aesop Rock continues to push the boundaries of rap music.
WestSide Gunn: The Griselda Gang Leader
With his raw and gritty flow, WestSide Gunn has made a name for himself as one of the best underground rappers today. The leader of the Griselda Gang, his unique style blends classic New York City rap with a modern twist. From “Versace” to “Gustavo,” his tracks showcase a rawness that’s hard to come by. If you’re looking for something beyond mainstream hip hop, be sure to check out WestSide Gunn and see why he’s among the best underground rappers today.
Inspectah Deck: The Wu-Tang Wordsmith
Inspectah Deck, one of the members of the Wu-Tang Clan renowned for their hardcore hip-hop style that blends gritty poetry with street-level grittiness. Inspectah Deck’s latest album is titled Chamber No. 9 that showcases how he has evolved as an artist over time. He is considered a master storyteller who can weave words into vivid pictures that linger long after the song has ended. His contribution to hip-hop and authentic storytelling make him a rising star in the underground rap scene.
Madlib: The Genre-Bending Producer-Rapper
Madlib is a notable figure in rap as both a producer and rapper. Collaborating with artists such as MF DOOM and Kanye West has allowed Madlib to showcase his genre-bending style to a broader audience. His music incorporates unique samples from various sources that blend jazz, soul, and hip-hop elements into one cohesive sound. His contributions to underground hip-hop have been immense and inspire new generations of artists to push boundaries in their music. Madlib’s dedication to experimentation and boundary-pushing make him an icon in modern hip-hop culture.
Ka: The Brooklyn Storyteller
Ka, the Brooklyn storyteller, stands out in the underground rap scene with his introspective and poetic lyrics. His minimalist beats and deliberate flow create a unique sound that touches on themes of social justice, family, and inner struggles inspired by growing up in Brooklyn. With critically acclaimed albums like “Grief Pedigree,” Ka continues to showcase his talent as an artist.
Vinnie Paz: The Hardcore Hip Hop Icon
Vinnie Paz stands among the best underground rappers of all time. A member of the Jedi Mind Tricks hip-hop group and a talented rapper himself with powerful lyrics and hard-hitting beats that address social and political issues. Collaborating with other underground rappers such as Immortal Technique and Army of the Pharaohs has further cemented his legacy in the rap community. His solo albums such as “Season of the Assassin” and “The Pain Collector” are masterpieces worth listening to for any fan of hardcore hip-hop.
Benny the Butcher: The Griselda Gang’s Butcher
Benny the Butcher, one of the members of the Griselda Gang, is known for his gritty lyricism and storytelling abilities. His music takes inspiration from old-school East Coast hip hop while incorporating modern beats and production techniques. Benny made a name for himself in the underground rap scene with his critically acclaimed debut album “Tana Talk 3.” Collaborations with other Griselda Gang members such as Westside Gunn and Conway the Machine have also helped him gain attention. With his unique style and collaborative spirit, Benny has become a force to be reckoned with in the world of hip-hop.
Polo G: The Chicago Drill Phenom
Polo G’s raw and gritty style has made him one of the best underground rappers to emerge from the Chicago drill scene. His emotionally charged lyrics and powerful storytelling touch upon themes such as trauma, violence, and mental health. Polo G’s hit single “Pop Out” landed him a coveted spot on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. Thanks to his debut album “Die a Legend,” Polo G has become a household name among rap enthusiasts who appreciate innovative and meaningful lyricism.
What Makes Underground Rappers Stand Out?
Underground rappers distinguish themselves with their distinct and original style, independent work ethic, and willingness to tackle social issues and personal struggles. Their music often has a raw quality that separates them from mainstream artists.
MF DOOM’s Unmatched Masked Persona
MF DOOM’s unmatched masked persona has made him one of the most influential underground rappers in hip hop history. With his unique rhyming style and clever wordplay, he stands out from other rappers in the game. DOOM’s music touches on important social issues while also delving into personal struggles and politics. It’s no wonder why he has gained such a devoted following in the rap community. From Lil Wayne to Jay-Z to artists emerging from Chicago like Polo G and Open Mike Eagle – everyone acknowledges MF DOOM’s influence on underground rap.
El-P’s Unique Production Style and Independent Spirit
El-P has established himself in the underground scene as an independent hip hop legend with a unique production style that differentiates him from mainstream rappers. He focuses on personal and socially conscious topics in his music while maintaining authenticity and independence. El-P has built a strong fan base through grassroots promotion and touring. With his distinctive sound and uncompromising spirit, El-P is one of the most significant underground rappers of our time.
Kool Keith’s Bizarre and Eccentric Rhyme Style
Kool Keith, one of the best underground rappers out there, is renowned for his bizarre and eccentric rhyme style. This lil wayne contemporary has a unique sound and style that sets him apart from mainstream rappers like Tupac Shakur, Jay-Z, or even Ice Cube. He focuses on more personal and introspective lyrics rather than creating music solely for commercial success. His raw talent shines through his authentic music that is hard to come across in today’s hustle-bustle of rap music industry dominated by Young Thug or Lil Baby.
Mos Def’s Powerful Social and Political Commentary in Lyrics
Mos Def is a legendary lyricist known for his powerful social and political commentary in his music. He addresses important issues such as police brutality, poverty, and racism through heartfelt lyrics that evoke strong emotions in listeners. Mos Def’s passion for social justice shines through in every track he produces. His music inspires listeners to take action and make a positive impact on their communities. With influences like Tupac Shakur and Nas, Mos Def continues to be one of the most influential underground rappers in hip-hop history.
Armani White’s Bold and Experimental Approach To Music
Armani White’s music approach is innovative and daring. He creates unconventional styles that set him apart from other hip-hop artists. His lyrics delve into alternative topics and showcase his raw authenticity, which strikes a chord with the fans. Armani produces his tracks independently, giving him creative control over his work. His experimental approach allows him to explore unique sounds while staying true to himself.
Blu’s Unwavering Dedication To Conscious Hip Hop
Blu’s commitment to conscious hip hop is unsurpassed. His unique fusion of classic hip hop with jazz and soul influences makes him a standout in the underground scene. With thought-provoking and inspiring lyrics that address social issues head-on, Blu emphasizes the importance of community building and activism through his music. It’s no wonder he’s considered one of the best underground rappers out there. From Tupac Shakur to Jay-Z to Nas and beyond, conscious artists like Blu continue to shape the future of rap music.
J Dilla’s Legendary Legacy of Beats and Rhymes
J Dilla’s legacy as a producer-rapper is unmatched. His music consisted of unique beats and rhymes that combined jazz, funk, and soul – influences that are still evident in modern-day hip-hop. J Dilla continues to inspire contemporary musicians like Madlib, Kanye West, and many others. Although he passed away over a decade ago, his impact on the rap genre remains strong today.
Joey Bada$$’s Emphasis On Old School Nostalgia and Wordplay
Joey Bada$$’s emphasis on old school nostalgia and wordplay has made him stand out as one of the best underground rappers. Rather than focusing on commercial success like many mainstream artists do, Joey Bada$$ puts more effort into lyricism and storytelling. His unique and unconventional style separates him from other rappers in the industry. Joey Bada$$ also has a strong DIY ethic and is heavily involved in the production of his music, which has helped him gain a loyal fan base.
Tech N9ne’s Independent Success Story and Strange Music Empire
Strange Music CEO Tech N9ne’s success story is an inspiring one for all aspiring rappers. He began by creating his own record label instead of relying on major labels. Tech N9ne’s dedication and hard work paid off when he became one of the most respected figures in underground hip hop. His unique style and sound sets him apart from mainstream artists. Tech N9ne’s Strange Music empire continues to grow, with other talented rappers joining him on his journey towards success.
Roc Marciano’s Timeless East Coast Boom Bap Sound
Roc Marciano’s timeless East Coast boom bap sound is characterized by authentic and raw music that resonates with fans looking for something outside of the mainstream rap scene. His unique style blends personal themes and socially conscious lyrics to produce music that stands out from other rappers in the genre. Roc Marciano has garnered attention through grassroots efforts, including touring, social media promotion, and collaborations with other underground artists like MF DOOM, Kool Keith, and Aesop Rock. His legacy as an influential rapper continues to inspire new generations of hip hop enthusiasts worldwide.
Talib Kweli’s Strong Emphasis On Social Activism and Community
Talib Kweli, a Brooklyn-based rapper synonymous with social consciousness and activism in the hip-hop world. His lyrics speak truth to power, inspiring listeners to stand up against injustice and inequality. From Tupac Shakur to Jay-Z and Nas, these icons have all praised his work. Kweli’s influence can be traced across generations of MCs who seek inspiration from his lyricism that combines political commentary with personal introspection. He is one of the best underground rappers who has left an indelible mark on hip-hop history.
Aesop Rock’s Unique Abstract Lyrics and Imagery
Aesop Rock is an underground rapper known for abstract lyrics and vivid imagery. He often explores introspective themes such as self-discovery through personal storytelling in his music. Aesop’s unconventional approach to rapping has amassed him a loyal fanbase due to intricate rhyme schemes and complex wordplay. Although he tends to fly under the radar, Aesop Rock continues to receive critical acclaim for his innovative style, making him one of the best underground rappers to date.
WestSide Gunn’s Griselda gang-inspired Raw and Gritty style
WestSide Gunn’s Griselda gang-inspired raw and gritty style is among the reasons why underground rappers stand out. His music represents gangsta rap, depicting street life vividly and delivering it unapologetically. Drawing inspiration from classic New York hip-hop, he adds his unique flavor to create an old-school yet innovative sound. Collaborating with other underground artists has helped him gain exposure, which contributed immensely to building his fan base.
Frequently Asked Questions
How can I discover new underground rap artists?
Discovering new underground rap artists can be done by exploring streaming platform playlists, following music blogs and social media accounts, attending local shows and open mic nights. These methods can help you find up-and-coming talent in the genre.
What sets underground rap apart from mainstream rap?
Underground rap differs from mainstream rap in that it often delves into social issues and political commentary. While underground rappers may not have as much commercial success, they are valued for their authenticity and raw talent. The production quality may be less polished, but it offers a unique and experimental sound. Many underground rappers use their music to challenge the status quo and speak truth to power.
These underground rappers are a breath of fresh air in the saturated rap industry. They bring unique sounds, styles, and messages that are often ignored by commercial labels and mainstream radio stations. They have mastered their craft through dedication, hard work, and sheer talent. Each one has something to offer that makes them stand out from the rest. If you want to expand your music horizons, listen to these rising underground rappers we’ve listed in our blog. And if you like what you hear, share it with your friends on social media to spread the word!