Aesop Rock is no stranger to the game. He's been releasing music since 1997, which is longer than I've been alive, and he currently shows no signs of slowing down. Since his starts in the 90's underground hip-hop scene, Aesop has constantly gone against the grain of popular contemporary hip-hop by using unorthodox sonics.
Essential Aesop listening:
Nipsey Hussle embodies the spirit of independent West Coast hip-hop. Since 2003 hes reinvented the game with his innovative business model. For his 2013 mixtape Crenshaw, Nipsey Hussle sold 1,000 copies of the tape for $100 each in less than a day. Outside of the well-played business moves, Hussle has a rap style that embodies old school West Coast hip-hop with a modern day lens. Nipsey also has his ears to the streets with his latest single "F*** Donald Trump."
Essential NIpsey Hussle listening:
To say Astronautalis is different would be an understatement. Currently based out of Minneapolis, Minnesota, Astronautalis is somehow able to seamlessly blend hip-hop with elements of the blues, alternative rock, and what he describes as "historical fiction hip-hop". His forthcoming album, Cut the Body Loose will be dropping on May 13th, but keep an eye out for our upcoming, exclusive session with Astronautalis, who showcases some new songs and his unbelievable freestyling abilities.
Essential Astronautalis listening:
Milo is based out of Wisconsin, but is apart of the upcoming alt-rap collective Hellfyre Club, a California collective that boasts fellow artists such as Anderson Paak, Nocando, and Open Mike Eagle. Milo's style lies somewhere between conventional and unconventional. It's difficult to place his methodology because of his great usage of phonetic sounds, pop culture quips, and a flow that both follows and at times leads his songs' production
Essential Milo listening:
Murs is another artist that has been around for a long time. Getting his start in LA, Murs is different from most of his peers because his subject matter usually focuses on conscious messages. His name stands for "Making the Universe Recognize and Submit" and with lyrics that seamlessly flow such as his, the acronym holds true. Murs is also known for being paired up with the produce 9th Wonder. For all the hip-hop heads out there, you know that cosign holds weight
Essential Murs listening:
Ratking just might be the most underrated underground hip-hop coming from NYC. Although they have a dedicated following, it at times feels like they're overshadowed by other acts/collectives such as A$AP Mob, Flatbush Zombies, and Pro Era. This shouldn't be the case because since 2012 the group has introduced a new gritty sound to the NYC hip-hop scene. Members Wiki, Hak, and Sporting Life are determined to change hip-hop and if they keep going down this route anything is possible
Essential Ratking listening
Two rappers from Minneapolis, Minnesota on a list about hip-hop? Seems crazy but the Midwest is bubbling back into the public's consciousness. Sims uses a more laid-back flow, but if you listen to his lyrics youll find an artist that has been mastering his usage of effective lyrics
Essential Sims listening:
Speaking of the Midwest, Mick Jenkins is a Chicago based MC that's also been at the forefront of the new Chicago music renaissance. Releasing mixtapes since 2012, Mick Jenkins started to receive (well-deserved) attention in 2014 for his mixtape, The Water[s]. Since then hes been working on his anticipated first album [T]he [H]ealing [C]omponent which is currently believed to be released some time this year. Beneath all the hype and well put together tapes, Mick Jenkins is a pure lyricist. On his song "P's & Qs" he's able to rhyme words that start with the letters p and q throughout the entirety of a two minute song.
Essential Mick Jenkins listening:
Yo Gotti is more of a "mindie" artist (an artist that has an independent label with a major label distributing the music). However, since 2000 Yo Gotti has been releasing music as an independent artist. Since 2012 Gotti has become essential listening from anyone that's a fan of Southern hip-hop. Hes also the guy that had us all singing, "Down In The DM" earlier this year.
Essential Yo Gotti listening:
Another Midwest artist hailing from Gary, Indiana, Freddie Gibbs has an excellent balance of technical proficiency as a rapper and the chops to deliver catchy hooks. Although he's been releasing music since '03, Gibbs didn't receive his big break until his ninth mixtape, Cold Day In Hell. Since then Gibbs has gone on to work with recognizable names such as Young Jeezy, Juicy J, and even released a joint album with Madlib.