Now when I say most people I am referring to the radio-music-only, MTV-watchin’, Lil Wayne lovers who refuse to expand their tastes beyond what is “mainstream”. For those of you who would consider yourself a hip-hop aficionado I would expect you to have these artists on rotation regularly, but for the sake of the uninformed please bear with me.
Jedi Mind Tricks
This hip-hop duo from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania is bringing back the butch editing and original production values that hold most dear to rap today. With their six studio albums, Vinnie Paz and DJ Stoupe the Enemy of Mankind are working hard at becoming a very well known hip-hop duo. I would listen to Violent By Design, Legacy of Blood and anything you can get your hands on by this group.
Perhaps the most well-known “underground” hip-hop artist, Immortal Technique hails from Harlem. He stands apart from other lyricists with his passionate delivery and politically charged lyrics. He established himself in 2001 by releasing his debut album Revolutionary Vol. 1 on his own with money he won in rap battles. Be sure to check out Revolutionary Vol. 2 as well, his critically acclaimed follow up, and his most recent effort The 3rd World.
Del Tha Funkee Homosapien / Deltron
Known to most as simply the blue ghost from the Gorillaz video for “Clint Eastwood”, this lyricist is one of the most successful Alternative/Hip-Hop artists to date. Following his successful debut I Wish My Brother George Was Here he split ties with cousin/producer Ice Cube and defined his style and sound by producing his sophomore release No Need For Alarm. Aside from his six solo albums, Del has released seven albums with his Oakland hip-hop collective Hieroglyphics. Also my favorite release, Deltron 3030, a futuristic hip-hop concept album, is a must listen for any hip-hop fan.
Slug from Atmosphere & Felt
This zealous MC hailing from Minnesota makes up half of the hip-hop duo Atmosphere as well as Felt. Performing together since high school Atmosphere combines catchy hooks and beats from producer Ant with the smooth and effortless delivery from Slug. When Life Gives You Lemons, You Paint That Shit Gold and Seven’s Travels capture the full potential of the duo. As if one impressive duo wasn’t enough for his resume, Slug teamed up with Murs from Living Legends to form Felt. Together they have released two albums with a third on the way.
Another MC hailing from Minnesota, Brother Ali is on Slug’s indie hip-hop label Rhymesayers Entertainment. Growing up feeling like an outcast because of albinism, Brother Ali turned to hip-hop. With the help of Atmosphere’s producer Ant, and inspired by “golden-age” hip-hop such as KRS-one and Rakim, Brother Ali released an instant classic with Shadows On The Sun. Look for his upcoming release, Us, in September 2009, followed by a nation-wide tour.