The following list (in no particular order) consists of a list of the artists that I feel are the most under-appreciated. Not just hip-hop, but in general.
There is also a list of more-than-honorable mentions at the bottom.
21. Ron Gilmore
Ron Gilmore is an in-house producer and artist with Dreamville, who produced the majority of Born Sinner, Last Winter, Too High To Riot, and even a couple tracks on 2014 Forest Hills Drive, (that album that went platinum with no features, lol). I watched last week as he opened the stage for the 1st night of the “Too High To Riot” tour here in Miami, and was immediately enraptured with his subtle, dreamy beats and smooth voice.
Listen to: The Maturation of Little Ron – Ron Gilmore
20. Denmark Vessey
When Earl (who barely tweets) tweeted this, I had no doubts in my mind.
Listen to: Martin Lucid Dream – Denmark Vessey
19. Brownsville’ KA
KA, from Brownsville, Brooklyn has been around longer than you think. This MC has been rapping since 1993. He teamed up with producer Preservation for their 2015 album “Days With Dr. Yen-Lo”. This album has a very MF DOOM-like vibe, with subtle beats, and almost a poetic, spoken-word like delivery. I highly recommend it.
Listen to: Days With Dr. Yen Lo – Dr. Yen Lo (KA & Preservation)
18. Smino Brown
Smino Brown proudly reps his city, St. Louis. Just yesterday, I was put on to Smino’s “Blkjuptr EP” and as bold of a statement as this is, he is already in my current Top 1o; purely based off of originality and content. Monte Booker producing, combined with Smino’s unique voice and flow, is a match made in music heaven.
“A lot of these industry people think I’m stupid. I’m a young black male; you can’t finesse me. We’ve been getting finessed our whole lives. We get that shit! That’s why the EP is called blkjuptr. Being a black man in America feels like you’re on damn Jupiter sometimes,” – Smino Brown (Pigeons & Planes interview)
Listen to his first EP here: S!CK S!CK S!CK EP
And my newest favorite project: Blkjupter
17. Sylvan LaCue
Sylvan LaCue, formerly known as QuEST, has been dropping 20+ track mixtapes of straight heat since 2007. Native to my city, Miami, he began getting serious attention following his critically acclaimed mixtape, Searching Sylvan (2014); and more recently, for his debut album, Far From Familiar. Sylvan manages to enrapture his listeners (myself included) with his creative lyricism, and amazing story-telling techniques. He is rapidly approaching my tight-knit top 10.
Checkout one of his mixtapes here: Searching Sylvan
And his debut album here: Far From Familiar
16. Nick Grant
Nick Grant, native to a small town in South Carolina that you’ve probably never heard of, is making a name for himself. On track 4 of his sophomore mixtape, titled ’88, he described himself as a “southern nigga with these up north flows”. When I first heard his tape, instantly thought he was from New York, and fell in love with his creative punchlines, entendres, and witty lyrics. He has also been cosigned by rappers such as T.I., and Young Jeezy; as well as Big K.R.I.T. and CyHi The Prynce, who both were featured on ’88.
Check out his dope Sway in the Morning freestyle here: Nick Grant on Sway
Check out his mixtape here: ’88 – Nick Grant
15. Jean Deaux
Who is Jean Deaux? “Jean Deaux is a hip hop diamond in the rough. The soulful teenager from Chicago, IL is more than a pretty face gimmick. Jean Deaux’s music is an expansionary subgenre that infuses Amy Winehouse singing and Missy Elliot‘s innovative rhyme pattern.” – Jenesis Magazine
She has collaborated with Mick Jenkins, Isaiah Rashad, Pro Era, Donnie Trumpet, and more.
Listen to: Soular System Vol. 1
And check out her souncloud (she has tracks with Smino and Monte Booker)
14. Dave East
Dave East is the next hottest gritty, aggressive rapper coming out of New York. He’s been preaching some real shit since he released his first mixtape in 2010. The first project I heard by Dave was his 2015 album “Hate Me Now”. The first thing that crossed my mind was “hate me now? like the nas song on I Am?” Then I later learned that he was paying his dues thanks to the cosign he had just received from the GOAT himself – Nas.
Watch Dave East freestyle here: Dave East on Hot97
Listen to his 2012 mixtape here (my fav): No Regrets – Dave East
Raury – a 19 year old Atlanta, Georgia native, is a rising innovator. He dropped his first project, labeled “alternative”, titled Indigo Child EP, in the summer of 2014. The same year, he signed his first record deal with Columbia Records. Raury was also featured on the cover of XXL Magazine for the 2015 Freshman Class.
Many have called him “the next Andre 3000” after listening to his self-produced, self-written debut album, All We Need. When I first listened to All We Need, I was blown away by the originality. And of course, the Big K.R.I.T. feature that I couldn’t help but get overly excited for. Raury also took part in the 2015 BET cypher, and effortlessly killed it.
Watch the cypher here: 2015 BET Cypher
Listen to All We Need here: All We Need – Raury
“Describe who you are and what you do in one breath”:
“I’m an artist and I create hip-hop music, poetry. I’m black. I define my identity in being black. I’m weird, I’m awkward.” – Noname Gypsy (MSNBC Interview with Alicia Maule)
NoName is unique, to say the very least. Her voice is calm but hesitant, yet she simultaneously seems so sure of herself. Her poetic, spoken-word flow is soothing and freeing. NoName has collabed with Mick Jenkins, Chance the Rapper, Donnie Trumpet, Jean Deaux, and more. I am still impatiently waiting for her “Telefone EP”.
Check out her SoundCloud:
11. Bi$hop Nehru
Bi$hop Nehru is a 19-year-old rapper and producer, from Nanuet, New York. At age 13, Bi$hop began making jazzy beats and instrumentals. In 2013, he opened for Wu-Tang Clan’s 20th anniversary European Tour, and later that year dropped his debut mixtape, Nehruvia. On May 22nd 2014, it was announced that Bi$hop was one of the first signees to Nas’ Mass Appeal Records. Later on in 2014, an EP with Dizzy Wright titled BrILLiant Youth EP was released, followed by NehruvianDOOM, a collab album with MF DOOM. I had the pleasure of meeting Bi$hop after Joey Bada$$ show in Ft. Lauderdale last October (2015). He’s definitely someone to look out for. His official debut album (that we’re still waiting on) is supposedly going to be produced by Nas. He also dropped a new mixtape last week titled “Magic:19”.
Listen to his freestlye over a classic Mos Def beat here: Bi$hop Nehru on Worldstar
Listen to his debut mixtape here: Nehruvia
10. THE INTERNET
The Internet, a soul band consisting of previous Odd Future members Syd The Kyd (vocalist) and Matt Martians (producer), as well as Jameel Bruner, Patrick Paige, Christopher A. Smith, and Steve Lacy. They were formed in early 2011, and began releasing albums almost immediately. Their debut album, Purple Naked Ladies, was the first album released under Odd Future Records. Their second studio album, Feel Good, received more attention than their first, but nowhere near as much as their 2015 project, titled Ego Death. Ego Death was Best Urban Contemporary Album at the 2016 Grammy Awards, however the award was taken home by The Weeknd’s Beauty Behind the Madness. Ego Death was easily one of my favorite projects of 2015. From Syd’s vocals, to the contemporary soul/jazzy feel, to the mellow soft-rock vibe, it’s just one of those albums you can let ride from beginning to end.
Check out their most recent album here: Ego Death – The Internet
9. Leon Bridges
Leon Bridges has completely immersed himself in soul. The 26 year old Fort Worth, Texas native has brought back that Classic Soul feel that I love so much. Listening to his debut album, Coming Home, brought me back to that happy place that I feel when listening to some of my favorite old school R&B artists such as Bill Withers, Otis Redding, and Marvin Gaye. His album was nominated for a 2016 Grammy, however the award was taken home by D’Angelo.
Check out his Grammy nominated album here: Coming Home – Leon Bridges
EARTHGANG, a powerful, unique, Rap-duo from Atlanta, Georgia, is making new waves in the Hip Hop culture. EARTHGANG is Composed of 2 wildly talented MCs, Johnny Venus and Doctur Dot. They released their first EP, titled “The Better Party” in 2010, and have consistently been releasing projects since. They recently dropped their second studio album, “Strays With Rabies”. The extremely original production, combined with innovative lyricism has made me an avid supporter of EarthGang and the SpillageVillage group. I was able to watch them open for the “Too High To Riot” Tour, and was extremely impressed with the energy and passion put forth in their performance.
Watch them Freestyle here: EarthGang on ShowOff Radio
Listen to “Strays With Rabies” Here: EarthGang – Strays With Rabies
GoldLink, a young MC from the DMV area, has recently been making waves. Starting out as just a soundcloud rapper on Twitter, GoldLink has successfully and flawlessly managed to combine electro-pop production elements, with Hip Hop and lyricism. He has recently became one of my favorite new artists. His first full length LP, titled “And After That, We Didn’t Talk” was released in 2014, followed by his most recent project, “The God Complex”. Both projects are laced with unmistakable originality, and pure greatness of combining genres. A lot of his production is done by KAYTRANADA, who just released a super dope album titled 99.9%.
Listen to his albums here:
SZA, a gorgeous Alternative R&B/Neo-Soul singer with unmistakably beautiful vocals, has been the leading lady of the Hip-Hop powerhouse, Top Dawg Entertainment. Home to Kendrick, ScHoolboy Q, Jay Rock, Ab-Soul, Isaiah Rashad, and Lance SkiiiWalker. SZA’s music combines elements of Soul, Hip-Hop, and R&B. Needless to say, she is quite unique. She released her first EP, See.Sza.Run (2012), followed by S (2013), and then finally Z (in 2014, which was under TopDawgEnt). Now, we are impatiently waiting for her upcoming album, A. One of my favorite collaborations was SZA and Wale on “The Need To Know”, a track from Wale’s 2015 Album, The Album About Nothing.
Listen to her first EP here: See.Sza.Run
And her most recent album Here: Z – SZA
5. Anderson .Paak
Anderson .Paak, an Oxnard, California native, is Dr. Dre’s newest signee. He was featured on Dre’s album Compton, The Game’s Documentary 2.5, KAYTRANADA’s 99.9%, and much more. His soulful, raspy, authentic, passionate voice gives character to everything he does. His Debut album, Venice, was “too heavy for you frail niggas” as he said on a track from his most recent album, Malibu. He’s been making music since his early 20’s, and recently blew up – just like I knew he would. The first time I saw Anderson live was when he opened up for Earl Sweatshirt at his September 2015 show, alongside talented producer Knxwledge (the other hald of the NxWorries duo). I had the pleasure of meeting .Paak, and hearing a In January 2016 when Malibu dropped, I was immediately in love with the feel-good, soulful vibe. Highly recommended.
Listen to his albums here:
4. Childish Gambino
Donald Glover, best known by his rap name Childish Gambino, is modern day Quadruple (or possibly quintuple) threat. Gambino is a Rapper, Singer, Actor, Comedian, and who knows, maybe he can dance too? he showed us some moves in the “Sober” video. The first 2 tapes I heard by Gambino were “I Am Just A Rapper” 1 and 2. I loved his childish (no pun intended) take on rap, and that propelled me to look deeper into his projects. Doing so, I heard his beautiful cover of Tamia’s “So Into You” I immediately fell in love. He even has a TV show premiering this year. That’s when I knew he was a man of many talents, and deserves some more praise.
Listen to my favorite projects here:
And this amazing cover: So Into You – Childish Gambino
3. Mick Jenkins
Mick Jenkins, an extremely talented, unique, young MC from the Southside of chicago, cannot be slept on. I had checked out some of his music last year and was very impressed, so when I heard he was having a show in my city, I made my way there, had a dope front row experience, and have been an avid supporter since. Mick is now a staple in my Top 5, and has restored my faith in this generation of real talented MCs. Usually when listening to an artists first tape, you can easily hear the progression they’ve made over the years. But when listening to the Mickstape, from 2012, it was clear that Mick started out insanely strong and is only getting better. I was also extremely impressed when I heard the track “Ps and Qs”, because it takes real talent to be able to make a whole song an alliteration. Needless to say, the anticipation for his upcoming album [T]he [H]ealing [C]omponent is killing me.
Listen to his first mixtape here: Mickstape
Listen to a dope track here: Ps and Qs
Listen to his 2014 Project here: The Water[s]
2. Mac Miller
Pittsburgh native, Mac Miller’s arguably strongest aspects pertaining to his music career are 2 very important things. Progression, and improvement. As a rapper, producer, and a musician, Mac is a man of many talents, who has continuously delivered a different sound with every consecutive project he’s released, since his first drop, in 2007. At only 24 years old, Mac has developed an extremely impressive catalog, consisting of three albums, two EPs, and several mixtapes. He has numerous aliases under which he releases music, which is not uncommon in hip-hop. However, his originality is undeniable. In his jazz EP, entitled “You”, Mac introduced us to Larry Lovestein, the lighthearted lover who’s vocals lie nicely over soft melodies. This alias is quite in contrast to his Delusional Thomas character, whom’s lyrics consist of elements of sadistic and psychotic tendencies, infused with maniacal production – and not to mention the pitched voice, which adds to the delirious theme. Mac is also credited as a producer under the alias Larry Fisherman, with two instrumental tapes under a volume series known as, “Run On Sentences”. As a man of such a wide platform of talent and capability, Mac should be considered one of the most versatile artists in the industry right now. Although he has acquired much more attention since his earlier mix tapes, Mac still remains as one of the most underrated talents for the time being.
Start off with these 2 if you’re not hip:
1. Immortal Technique
The Lyrical Genius, The man, Felipe Andres Coronel, better known as Immortal Technique, is an Underground Legend. Raised in Harlem, New York, his lyrical content deals in everything from controversial political issues, socialism, class struggle, poverty, religion, governments, to economics and racism. He doesn’t want to be controlled by a record label, he feels that these companies, not the artists, profit from mass production of music. In 2001, Immortal Tech gave us his first album, titled “Revolutionary Vol. 1” he produced this album with his profits from winning rap battles. This album had one of my personal top 5 songs “Dance With The Devil”. In 2003, Tech released his second album “Revolutionary Vol. 2” with the song “Industrial Revolution” being the most known on the album. He received “Hip Hop Quotable” in The Source for the song. Tech has worked with artists such as: Mos Def, Chuck D (Public Enemy), KRS-ONE, and Dead Prez. Tech is fluent in Spanish and English and has a few songs where he puts his bilingual abilities on full display. Tech uses his free time to do volunteer work in prisons, work with immigrant rights activists, help raise money for children’s hospitals overseas, and he has also created writing grants for high school students.
Listen to: Revolutionary Vol. 1
Chazmere just dropped his debut, self-titled Album yesterday, and I am nothing short of impressed. His album sounds like nothing I’ve heard before, which is what I look for the most in an arist. Originality. Soulful, funny, lighthearted, yet deep. This rapper/singer/producer from the Bronx is the music industry’s newest triple threat.
Watch his video for “No B-Sides”, premiered on MassAppeal No B-Sides – Mass Appeal
Listen to his debut album here: Chazmere
BJ, an extremely talented singer/songwriter (obviously from Chicago) is arguably the most slept on R&B singer of this generation. He has worked with Warren G, Kendrick Lamar, (and most of TDE), Freddie Gibbs, Big K.R.I.T., Anderson .Paak, Chance The Rapper, and even Kanye. His genuine, soulful voice is like no other.
And his first album: Pineapple Now-Laters
If you’re sleep on Big K.R.I.T., the current King of the South, I feel bad for you. Flow. Lyrics. Content. And he’s an excellent producer as well. Forever my #1.
Listen to: 4Eva N A Day
Easily one of my favorite MC’s and producers right now. Bars for days. Entendre and lyricism skills are insane. Sadly OddFuture is no longer together, but it’s still Sweatshirt nigga.
Listen to: Doris if you haven’t. Actually, listen to it even if you have.
Known for never putting out music, Jay Electronica seems to believe in quality over quantity. He has one of the shortest discographies, but extremely impressive.
Listen to: What The F*ck Is A Jay Electronica
Ab-Soul is by far TDE’s most slept on, and debatably most talented Lyricist. It is rumored that Soulo has the best project of the year, and it hasn’t even come out yet. Enough said.
Listen to: Longterm Mentality – Ab-Soul
TDE’s newest addition, (aside from Lance SkiiiWalker) is the insanely talented Isaiah Rashad. He shocked everyone when he dropped his 2014 Debut album, Cilvia Demo. Even though he had previously blocked me on twitter (no idea why), he unblocked me. So we cool now. Impatiently waiting for his new album.
Listen to: Cilvia Demo – Isaiah Rashad
S/o Norf Side Long Beach for giving us Vince, super dope aggressive, sarcastic rapper. He’s just as funny in person.
Listen to: Shyne Coldchain Vol. 2 – Vince Staples
Joey released his debut mixtape 1999 at just 17 years old, with beats by Chuck Strangers and a few other great producers. He has created a gigantic powerhouse of talent, PRO ERA. Part of the Beast Coast movement.
Listen to: 1999 – Joey Bada$$
Chicago’s very own Vic Mensa. Best friends (hopefully still) with Chance The Rapper, Towkio, and a few other members. This EP touched my soul when Vic spoke out about the shooting of Laquan McDonald, the unarmed teenager who was gunned down by Chicago policemen. “1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, FUCK 12”
Listen to: There’s Alot Going On – Vic Mensa
Update: Also check out Denzel Curry. Super dope, aggressive yet lyrical rapper from my city (Miami). Has opened for Mick Jenkins, Joey Bada$$, Earl Sweatshirt, etc.
Listen to his most recent release here: Imperial – Denzel Curry
For daily updates on new music I check out, keep up with this thread on Twitter: