Existing, situated, operating, or taking place beneath the surface of the ground, hidden or secret; not open, published or produced by political or social radicals or nonconformists:avant-garde; experimental.
In other words, unique, different, something special that is not like everything else. The Underground.
We are back with our picks for the Top 50 Underground/Independent/Emerging artists of the year 2013 and we must say it was even harder to produce this year’s list than it was last year. So many artists gave us a run for our money when it came to trying to narrow the names down to only 50! As this past year we saw a return to lyricism in a huge way which is a win for Hip Hop across the board but made it harder for us to chose as a result! So trust us…this list was very hard to do! We wish this was tee-ball where everyone could get a trophy and we could take all our favorite rappers out for ice cream afterwards but unfortunately it just doesn’t work that way…no matter how much we may want it to.
We really want to remind everyone that this list in no way discounts or invalidates the hard work that artists have been putting in for the past year. We know there are far more than 5o so we urge fans and supporters to talk to us in the comments section and let us know who you liked off our list and who you would love to see featured in 2014 that we might have missed!
With that said check out the AllHipHop.com picks for 2013 and remember they are in NO PARTICULAR ORDER!! We did NOT put any sort of ranking to this thing…they are all equal in our eyes! This is one of the few lists that did not go off of budgets, popularity contests, numbers of likes/followers or flat out bribes! So enjoy!
YC The Cynic
We’ve been telling you guys for a few years now about YC…now finally the “others” have caught on to him too! Once again an epic year was had by young Mr. Cynic and his growth from album to album has been phenomenal. In 2013 YC came in to his own with his “GNK” project and he lyrically kicked doors in! 2013 found even Hot 97 playing him in their rotation. We knew it was just a matter of time! So in 2014 just remember…you probably saw him here first!
Okay so we know there will be heartburn for some about this pick but that almost makes us like it more! Donald Glover aka Childish Gambino can spit…and he’s clever….and the kid has punchlines and quotables for days. So why wouldn’t we like him? Isn’t that what it’s all about? With that said the project he released in the late fall made us smile…and this underdog proved to us it ain’t a gimmick with him! He says it like he means it and it’s good!
Surprisingly one of the most slept on artists of the year! Seemed like almost everywhere we went we heard rumblings of how much fans were enjoying the new projects put out by Roc Marciano this fall but the fan fare was no where near what we thought it would be from the media considering what solid work he put forth. All we know for sure is we dug it and we know a whole lot of others did as well. This is another example of how important it is to make your voice heard when you enjoy something as a fan. It’s more important to troll sites to speak about what you do like rather than what you don’t! Everyone should have been on this one this year…we’re just saying!
Unapologetic and in your face Final Outlaw released a lyrical beast of a project in 2013 and didn’t ask for any fan fare at all. He metaphorically spit his face off and its dopeness was appreciated… so it found its way through the underground and beyond. If that ain’t Hip Hop then we aren’t sure what is! In the tradition of EPMD he skipped the ‘“Crossover” games and just did good work.
One of the most underrated projects of 2013 belonged to Black Milk. The rhymer was not afraid to get open with his latest project “ No Poison No Paradise” and we for one were grateful! Talk about a year full of impact! Black Milk killed it from the music to the stage and everywhere in between.
Big Pooh was back in 2013 in a big way. We’ve known of his diligence and hard work for years and he never lets us down lyrically. But it’s his solo work apart from Little Brother that lands him on our list. His Fat Boy Fresh series was just that…fresh! And we can’t wait to see what Big Pooh has in store for 2014!
Senica Da Misfit
Senica Da Misfit finally made his presence felt on the performance tip this year and rocked stages everywhere from popular Hip Hop festivals to accredited Hip Hop conferences. But the show he put forward with a Grammy award winning band on the “Wake Up Show Unplugged” with King Tech, Sway and DJ Revolution was by far his dopest of the year! And that is saying a whole lot! We are anxious to see what he puts forth in the new year.
What can we say…this guy is nothing if not consistent. Project after project dropped this year with Soul Khan as either the lead or as the feature and he murderlized verse after verse. Just when you think he couldn’t possibly be any more clever you get a new song from Soul Khan proving you wrong and this year was zero exception.
Another battle rap kid makes our list for 2013. One Dae is reppin for Planet Brooklyn and showing us that you don’t have to be in the heat of battle to make an impact. He’s clever and witty just as any good battle emcee should be but it’s more than that. His voice is seasoned and confident and as a result we’re appreciative of the rhymes he put forth this past year.
This chica once again used her powers for good not just within her music but also within her community. When you support a Psalm One project you are literally supporting the kids as she is another one of those artists that walks the walk by giving back to the kids of the Hip Hop world. She spit her heart out in 2013 but allowed herself to retain a little bit of energy…only so that she could go back and teach the next generation of spitters, producers and directors how to do the same. This Rhymesayer is one of a kind in her voice, flow, delivery and love for the culture! And we are all better off for it!
In 2013 this New Jersey spitter brought intelligence to the table and the people ate well as a result. His creative way of delivering a thought provoking rhyme coupled well with his energetic stage show and Rasheed reminded the listeners why they ever started paying attention to him in the first place. He was consistent and steady…each song was good whether he was the headliner or just featured on a track. He gave the people what they wanted from…dope music without gimmicks…who in the world could ask for more.
We only need one word for this guy…BELOVED! Making the crossover from battle emcee to solo artist is never easy and very few have done it successfully. This year Loaded Lux made strides toward doing just that and upon releasing a song that stayed a virtual mantra for us over the summer months we decided that maybe he was right…maybe we are gonna get this work! We’re excited to see where things go for him in 2014!
Von Pea and Donwill make up the Duo Tanya Morgan and they blew us away with their “Rubber Souls” album in 2013. It was eclectic lyricism at it’s very finest and we’re starting to believe these two have figured out the formula. Their efforts this year were definitely celebration worthy and we’re glad we weren’t the only ones who noticed!
This duo is definitely putting the Rebel in Diaz and the two are proving through their actions as well as their verses that they stand for something. In fact in 2013 they triple dog dared their listeners to fall for anything. Their music is demonstrative of this and as with the proud traditions of Public Enemy and KRS before them…they’re teaching all those within ear shot of the troubles that plague the Hip Hop culture and society at large. They rocked stages and and dropped music all year long and we for one were thankful for their voices and their services in 2013.
Sacramento spitter KENO put out an eardrum friendly project in the way of an album called “The 1derful” and it was nothing short of the laid back wonderfulness that we have come to expect from the Cali rapper. Down with the TUS crew KENO found his very own voice this year and it was certainly praise worthy…so we’re praising it!
We’ve been talking about RoQy TyRaid for a few years now and for very good reason! In fact we take credit for breaking him on a national level! This kid showed off in front of King Tech, Sway and DJ Revolution at the “Wake Up Show Unplugged” and trust us when we say he left everyone gasping for air by the time he was done spitting. RoQy unloaded a murderous barrage of nouns and verbs on the mic so severely that even Talib Kweli would have to say, “Wow fam take a breath between all those words!” if he ever heard it! RoQy TyRaiD truly killed it this year!
Joey Bada$$ impressed us this year in ways that are almost indescribable. He was one of the first to reach back for the elder statesmen of Hip Hop and ask for guidance and that was just about everything to us! To now witness a new phenomenon of young artists teaming up with older mentors and running the Hip Hop tables with their collaborations is so much more than we ever even hoped to ask for! In 2013 Mr. Bada$$ set the tone for his fellow artists and ever since it’s been happening all over the Hip Hop community. The results for Joey were hot tracks and a bright future! We’re anxious to see what he does in 2014!
Boston rapper Natural is a spitter that took things to a totally different level in 2013. He put out a cohesive project that took on the topic of the Boston bombings in a very endearing way. But don’t get us wrong…he rapped about light hearted topics too and entertained listeners all the while. We’re glad that we stumbled upon this artist over the course of the year as there was clearly a whole lot worth finding out about. Our eyes will stay open for his movements in 2014.
This New Jersey son had a great year in 2013 as he rocked both stages and the booth with force! Silent Knight went from a featured favorite to a stand out seemingly over night and we are not the only ones who noticed his growth this year! We’ve been talking about this guy and his lyrical adeptness for a few years now and we’re anxious to see where he is able to take things in the new year!
Mitch Littlez (the “Dominican Duke” as we call him) is an emcee straight out of Harlem. The guy is as lyrical as he is clever and twice as dope with the flow. Mitch easily grabs the attention of the room with the abundance of energy that surrounds his performances. Like a panther approaching his prey, he’s cagey and calculated with the punchlines and you know by the look in his eyes when he’s about to attack the verse! We are convinced that 2014 is going to showcase his talents even further and we can’t wait!
This artist gets heavy praise everywhere he goes and being compared to the likes of 3 Stacks does not exactly suck! The rapper put out an album that set the tone for 2014 with his “Shades.Of.Moo” project which dropped in the late fall and Outkast fans are seemingly gravitating toward it…nice right? We are pretty eager to see where he takes it in the new year!
A favorite from the Bay area, Rocky Rivera once again owned the year through both solo projects and collaborations. But this shocks no one as it’s something that most have come to expect of her. She’s lyrical, verbal, intelligent and she can a punish a beat as well as any of the guys surrounding her! In fact, hearing her brutalize a song is what is now the norm…and it’s just how we like it!
The Audible Doctor
As one of the most sought after up and coming lyricist/producers in New York City at the moment, this kid is shaking the underground scene by the shoulders and awaking the masses to his abilities in a major way. The Audible Doctor is versatile and his rhyme schemes and flows are the cross-roads where verbal adeptness and cleverness meet. But what impressed us the most with him this year was how far he was willing to go when he wanted to be a part of King Tech and Sway’s Unplugged project. He was suffering from an awful case of the flu and could hardly speak at all…but the guy sucked it up, got on a plane, traveled across the country and spit his verse anyway!
It was a great year for JohnNY UniteUs indeed! In 2o13 the Brooklyn spitter dropped a new project and got back out to crowds in a big way. When you throw in a JohnNY U song you’re going to enjoy yourself. His delivery is smooth no matter how jaggad the verse and it’s head bob worthy music that keeps one hitting repeat and looking for more. We can’t wait to see where he goes in ’14!
Canada’s son SonReal brought it yet again this year with more of the head bobbing, smile inducing goodness that we wish more artists would find their way toward. His lighthearted way of tackling a beat is impressive as he is slowly becoming one of the hottest storytellers out here. Sure there are plenty who do it but he does it well! Over the last few years we’ve watched this guy grow and we’re positive that he’s solidifying his position in this game. To be honest we’re not sure why more American artists aren’t looking at him for features and why American media have yet to catch on…all we know is that we’ve been paying attention for some time now!
Midwestern rhymer Blax had one heck of third quarter this year with a new LP entitled “Everyday” which featured a song for everyday of the week. Clever, witty and head nod worthy are but a few words we heard used to describe the project and we agreed wholeheartedly. We’ve been watching this artist for a few years now and we’re consistently impressed with what he puts out. 2013 was just another example of another solid project from Blax.
He’s not only lyrical he’s a beast when it comes to savagely attacking truth and throwing it in the face of power through verse! Jasiri has become a real life revolutionary in the Hip Hop game and in the Hip Hop culture at large. His spit game is beyond ridiculous and his ability to hit up everyone’s collective truths in a verse while somehow personalizing the message for each individual listener simultaneously is a talent that has been seen rarely since the days of Chuck D and KRS.
Charming and cocky as ever, Chaudon was back to explain to all who listened why he is one of the dopest to pick up a mic and few disagreed with him. In 2013 he continued to master the art of combining smart assery with hard hitting, gritty lyrics so that just as the listener began to smile at something he said… that smile was immediately wiped away by a somber thought in the next line of the verse. To put it simply Chaundon did a hell of a job illustrating pictures through words in 2013.
Charmingly Ghetto is much more than a wild name! In 2013 he lyrically choked out beats and used his own unique knack for spitting complete thoughts across a track to reel in new fans everywhere. The Boston spitter took to the booth and used a mic as his weapon of choice. The result was a project full of metaphorically murdered nouns and verbs..yeah…he did that! And it was not to be undone! We’re looking forward to seeing what he delivers in 2014!
Never one to be still, The Narcicyst was still dropping the dopest of gems in 2013. Whether referencing political actions or hazelnut spreads, Narci delivered his brand of Hip Hop his way. The Canadian spitter gave us what we have become accustomed to with him…dope flows and rhymes set to dope beats. In essence he gave his listeners a complete verse every time he stepped to the mic. How is it that this man hasn’t become a bigger name in the US? It truly boggles the mind!
We’ve dubbed them the “Beastie Boys Of The New Millennium” and not for nothin! The Bodega Brovas are complete energy on stage and on wax and they show in every performance why they deserve to be some of the next to blow. Their act is pure polish and they are some of the last showman in the genera. The Brovas are clever, lyrical and able to fill the void that has been missing with Hip Hop groups for quite a while now.
Brooklyn based emcee Mic Handz had his fingers in so many different pies this year we never knew what project he was working on or to what aspect he was involved. He’s definitely a man of many hats and not for nothing we were shocked by all that we caught him out here doing! Whether he was producing a song, singing the hook, hosting a live show, freestyling for a crowd or performing live some of the hotness that he dropped with one of the few collectives he was a part of or his very own solo music…this kid was the very definition of the word hustle this year! He was literally grinding while everyone else slept. We’re almost scared to see what all he accomplishes in 2014!
This guy did something this year that made us proud…he signed to RCA Inspirational! Dee-1 is a shining example of what can happen if you stay true to yourself as an artist and refuse to give up your creativity for a few short lived dollars! People told him he had to change…and that he was either doing too much or not enough throughout his journey but he held to his beliefs and continued to impress the fans as well as the media with dope projects done his own way…and by the end of this year he had an announcement to make to his followers that would literally change the game! Dee-1 reminds us all that there is still good left to do in this world and through his rhymes and his actions he is showing us all how we can go forward and do it!
Recks jumped out of the box once again in 2013 and this time he spoke on his country and the way he felt it ought to be versus the way it is. While there are plenty of artists that get political with it, Reks showed up in a big way with his song flags and got people to discuss things that were very far out of certain comfort zones. If we remember correctly…before the bling..the brods and the benzes became the norm in every rap song…speaking on one’s surroundings, beliefs and ideas for solutions used to be what Hip Hop was about or at least in part. So agree or disagree with Reks but salute him for his willingness to stand up and speak out…because that is in fact..Hip Hop.
No shock for us that Torae once again knocked it out of the park with “For The Record” in 2013. He lived up to what one would expect from a Torae offering with several cuts that were catchy to the point that you couldn’t get them out of your head for awhile after hearing them…if that isn’t high praise then we really aren’t sure what is! As one of the most consistent emcee’s out here Torae made sure that whether he was on stage, on radio, hosting a live show or in the booth that his presence was going to be felt someway somehow and it was!
In 2013 Gil Gatsby came through the door, grabbed the mic and had his way with both his flow and the music. His voice was more than deep…it was commanding and by the time he finished spitting he convinced us all that it was more than a dope tone of voice that got him there…simply put the boy spits gems! Double threat! His new project is going to set him up nicely for 2014…there’s no doubt in our minds!
Yamin Semali is a complex, verbal, cerebral spitter that does something on the mic that many have either forgotten how to do or have simply just disregarded as a responsibility of their platforms altogether…what is that thing you ask? Well simply put…the guy entertains through his music. Not in a buffoonish sort of way but yet in such a way that you want to hear what he is spittin about. He is what we used to call a complete entertainer….and we’re glad that we caught on to him as an emcee…no matter how late we might be to the party. 2013 saw dope collaborations on his project “Senior Dues” and our curiosity is piqued by him for 2014.
Coming to us from Japan by way of NYC Wildelux has proven that sometimes just getting out of your own area code is the answer to succeeding in this rap game. 2013 was a heck of a year for Will as he continued to rock stages and speakers worldwide. No stranger to the industry and it’s ills this spitter kept honesty as the star of his rhymes this year and for that we found respect.
Those who know Oddissee’s work don’t really even need to be told why we continue to dig this guy’s projects…they know! But for those who still haven’t gotten hip to him…we’re all wondering what you’re waiting on! Oddissee put out yet another complete body of work in 2013….clever, smart, witty, intricate and amazing are but a few words to describe “Tangible Dream.” If you haven’t heard him before… now would be a great time to see what all the fuss is about. He’s inspired and it was clear in 2013!
The ATL stood up proudly with this artist and for good reason… he put out good product in 2013. Loch released “Afro American Horror Story” which was a very dope blend of gritty down South beats and an almost northern sounding rhyme scheme and delivery. Loch almost single handedly proved that everyone can in fact all play nicely together on the metaphorical playground that is this Hip Hop ish.
This guy was everywhere in 2013! We saw him lyrically destroy stages to the point that headliners didn’t even want to follow his show! Action Bronson took listeners by storm and made his presence felt in the realest of real ways and when they tried to diss New York Hip Hop he was one of the very first artists that sprang to mind to contradict the argument…now that says a lot!
Luke Christopher is another artist that just recently signed to RCA and not for nothing because the young man has bars. But it’s more than that….there is something soulful to his music that leaves you feeling relaxed upon hearing it. It’s got that feel good Cali vibe as well as a throwback quality that makes you want to hit repeat a time or two once the tracks end. He may be young but he feels familiar to the listener and that is a good thing…a very good thing.
Chris Young’s mic skills took us by surprise in 2013. Don’t let his smile fool you into thinking there isn’t poison about to be spit from his lips! This kid is unassuming but when he grabs a microphone it’s curtains on the kindness as he is about to murder every lyric in the song. His abilities to spit his truths and to share his story are nothing short of genuine gifts and every verse is Christmas!
Los Angeles artist Blu was a beast on stages in 2013 as well as in booths. He featured and collabed all over the place and his smooth delivery and word play gave audiences permission to just sit back and enjoy the ride that any of his music took you on. It’s easy to like this artist and hard to find fault with the complete works that he puts out. He makes moves with very little fanfare and we appreciate him for that even more. He does it for the love and not just for the hand claps and gestures….how can you not love it!
Boston’s son was still steadfast on his mission of love toward his city in 2013. Lage continued to shed light on Boston’s Hip Hop scene and their rich history through his rhymes and the videos that he put out. This artist is yet another example of growth from last year and we are happy to say we saw him early on. He exudes something that is lacking in a lot of the music that we’ve been receiving lately and that’s passion. Alage could probably get over on his verbal ability alone…but he goes the extra mile to educate the listener about his surroundings which is a bonus. We hope Boston realizes what they have with this kid!
Brown Bag AllStars
Here we go again with this talented group of four that drop music seemingly every darn day! Okay that may be exaggerating a little bit (But honestly not by much) and the difference between other artists that drop as much music as they do and them is…pretty much all of their music has been extra dope and 2013 was no exception! We don’t know how they continue to come up with all the bars that they do…we’re just glad they are still motivated to grab mics and have their way with beats…consistently! We don’t know what 2014 holds for these guys but one thing we’re pretty sure of is this…we need to get bigger email inboxes to hold all the work we’re sure to get from them…and we ain’t mad about it!
R-mean‘s rhyme scheme is the very definition of the kind of laid back, super chill, California Hip Hop that we find ourselves in need of. In 2013 R-mean brought us that head bobbing, feel good type of vibe and delivery that people crave from LA artists and it was dope! However, our favorite part of his story is that even though he is from LA he grew up overseas! Again we love stories like that! His influences are vast and it’s completely apparent in his rhymes.
This year reminded us of why we liked Playdough in the first place…Simply put…he’s clever and silly and it’s just crazy stuff to listen to without feeling like you’re losing brain cells for doing so. He’s been creating his own lane for awhile now and that lane is getting bigger as time goes on. Playdough incorporates that dirty Dallas vibe with lyrical ability and it’s often the perfect marriage of humor, adeptness, timing and delivery that allows us to bob our heads and laugh with Playdough instead of at him. In 2013 we saw him take over unassuming crowds time and again from festivals to conferences as well as his own shows and it was an awesome sight to see.
This Hip Hop band out of CT gave crowds the business in 2013 and we were happy to have caught them more than a few times on stages throughout the year. Their sound is not pre-fab manufactured beats but live music and it’s a really cool, bob your head type of vibe that anyone in earshot can truly appreciate. Score one for the musicians this year as these kids reminded us what this music thing must remain to be about. It made us want to go support our local public school’s music programs in fact….because we need to continue to show love for real instruments as well as the computerized variety.
The kid coming straight out of New Zealand brought Hip Hop in ways that shocked the Hip Hop realm in 2013! We keep trying to tell people that some of the biggest Hip Hop heads are far away from the United States! Welp in that same spirit, some of the dopest emcee’s are not from the US either! This spitter is a very good case of that principle! The funny thing is we didn’t tell you he was from a country outside of the US many wouldn’t have even known. David Dallas made huge moves in the last twelve months and our guess is this is just the beginning! We’ll definitely continue to watch him in the next year!