point me to underground contemporary hip hop!
October 1, 2013 11:10 AM   Subscribe

Please turn me on to excellent hip hop tracks produced in the last few years, but not released on any major label -- I'd love to hear stuff you can only get on bandcamp, or soundcloud, or on some scrappy self-produced website. I'll be hosting a 90-minute hip hop show on my local community radio station in a couple of weeks and I need sweet tracks! Suggestions of tracks by hip hop artists from elsewhere than the U.S. also more than welcome. Muchas gracias, amigas y amigos!
posted by slappy_pinchbottom to Media & Arts (24 answers total) 29 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Not sure if this is along the lines of what you're looking for, but: Cakes Da Killa! Bandcamp, Soundcloud.

Brooke Candy is a genius.

Awkwafina is also great.
posted by divined by radio at 11:26 AM on October 1, 2013 [1 favorite]

"Excellent" and "sweet" is pretty vague... does the show have a theme more specific than "hip hop" and are there any language/content restrictions? Also, are you opposed to tracks from major label artists that appeared on mixtapes as opposed to major label releases? Lastly, what do you mean by "underground"... there are quite a lot of unsigned artists who are extremely well-known (like Chance the Rapper).
posted by acidic at 11:35 AM on October 1, 2013

Not sure if this is underground enough for you, but I'm a fan of the Canadian rapper Shad, who is popular in Canada but not much elsewhere - which he refers to in "Yaa I get It" (includes the immortal line 'the only thing i love more than rapping is napping').
posted by googly at 11:38 AM on October 1, 2013

Best answer: Yeah man, this is a pretty open-ended question, though my bet's that you'll have fun no matter what! Totally feel free to send me a message with more specific questions. Off the top of my head, some current personal favorites of mine are Ka, Starlito, zeroh, billy woods, and Cities Aviv. They each have pretty distinct styles, so hopefully you're bound to enjoy at least one of them.
posted by black_lizard at 11:51 AM on October 1, 2013 [1 favorite]

Currently bumpin: KAi Sky Walker, Spark Master Tape (and also this mixtape).
posted by wrok at 11:56 AM on October 1, 2013

I'm not sure how I eventually got it, but Eligh's album Grey Crow is pretty great. Oh, and Killer Mike and El-P liked making R.A.P. Music so much, they released a mixtape (Run the Jewels), that is just as good.
posted by General Malaise at 11:56 AM on October 1, 2013

Wefunk radio has a good amount of hip hop and delights in bringing out new stuff. if you search through their show archives you can see which sets are more hip-hop oriented.
posted by shothotbot at 11:57 AM on October 1, 2013

Side B Radio off of Princeton's WPRB is also good fun.
posted by black_lizard at 12:03 PM on October 1, 2013

Best answer: I really liked Home Brew from New Zealand, who I found on bandcamp. Seconding Ka too.
posted by chrchr at 12:05 PM on October 1, 2013

Best answer: Ana Tijoux is a rad Chilean French rapper.
posted by saul wright at 12:28 PM on October 1, 2013

Response by poster: I guess the question is pretty broad. I suppose that besides the characteristics of fairly recent and non-major-label, what I'm really after I guess are tracks that you, personally, as a hip hop listener, have really found to be amazing and fantastic. It's the personal recommendation that I'm after.

I've heard the regular hosts of the show use the words "underground, conscious, progressive, global" to describe what they play. Doesn't have to be radio-friendly, I can bleep or reverse as needed. Personally I like dense sonic landscapes, minimalist illbient-type sounds, and a sense of humor and feats of jawdropping lyrical cleverness. I hope that helps narrow it down, though all these things are still pretty vague I know! Thanks to everybody who's posted so far, please keep 'em coming.
posted by slappy_pinchbottom at 12:38 PM on October 1, 2013

I have no idea if Yung Lean is on a label or not. I only know him from Soundcloud. Not from the US, barely even hip hop, maybe too "mainstream"? Yung Lean.
posted by mattbucher at 1:20 PM on October 1, 2013

Greg Grease, particularly "Forward"
posted by obscurator at 1:25 PM on October 1, 2013 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Also, I appreciate all the artist recommendations, but specific tracks will be a lot more helpful to me. Thanks!
posted by slappy_pinchbottom at 1:43 PM on October 1, 2013

Really developed a taste for underground hip hop over the past year. I've also fallen hard for the 'unofficial' mix tapes big name artists tend to put out between major label albums.

This site is my personal favorite for sourcing both - it's not curated, but the main benefit is that you can freely download anything that strikes your fancy. Lots of gems.

posted by Muppetattack at 4:21 PM on October 1, 2013

18andCounting - Untitled [Dolor & Lorn]
Action Figures - Jumanji ft. T3 of Slum Village
The Black Opera - Manute Bol
GDP - Succumb, Catatonia, ORLY, Black Guys in France
Goldie Glo - Entourage
Northe'n Lights - Grand Theft Audio
Boog Brown - UPS (Dunc of DTMD Remix), Friction
Detroit CYDI & Stryfe - Blackberry (PURE)
Has-Lo - Build Jewelz (Oh Kay), Kinetic Energy
Mercury Waters - One
@Peace - Nobody [New Zealand]
Thee Satisfaction - Kinks
Jelani - Japanese Architecture
Vince Staples - Hostile
Shawn Chrystopher - Sunset
Coolzey - Faces of Death

Seconding Homeboy Sandman (though I would add Sputnik and Illuminati) and Macromantics (though I would add Miss Macro, Mystro's Gunz For Hire with her, and 4 facets)

A sampling of the lyrics you'll hear:

"I hate ice-cold Tofu"
"Absorbed the wisdom of Ancient Rome and Kemetans"
"I told the hostess I got my cake up. ...Hostess...Cake...? Boy Wake Up!"
"Iller than a Suge Knight/Russ Simmons posse cut. Who else on the track? Probably Puff."
"I come and @#$% they team up like I'm T.O.!"
"Slaughtering a pig, Oink, Oink...Bitcoin"
"The only white kid in the neighborhood, the bony bright kid who's trying to find the only nice kid - to pick a fight with"
"I would put you under my tutelage but then I'd look stupid just because of who my pupil is"
"I'm authentic - arsenic with a flow all liquid"
"Cross me and we’ll be enemies til we in the next form of energy"
posted by cashman at 4:25 PM on October 1, 2013 [2 favorites]

Not sure how recent is contemporary by your measure, but while the Clipse hit a major label early on, their "We Got It for Cheap" mixtapes from the mid-2000s " mare not major label affairs, and they are excellent. (Their major label albums "Lord Willin'" and "Hell Hath No Fury" both have great, great moments for what it's worth.)

Lil Wayne's mid-2000s mixtape output is pretty fun still, and totally weird, and also independent or underground by some sort of definition.

I would second folks who are mentioning Chance the Rapper. His "Acid Rap" mixtape is beyond excellent. Pretty much all the songs are good but maybe look at "Cocoa Butter Kisses," "Juice," and "Lost."

I think Danny Brown, the Detroit rapper, is on Fool's Gold which is an independent label. I have only previewed his new album, so I can't speak to it. But maybe check out songs like "Grown Up," "Pac Blood," "Scrap or Die," "Blunt After Blunt," and "Fields."

Kendrick Lamar is now on a major label, but he comes out of an independent hustle and his album on Interscope, "Good Kid, MAAD City" does not suffer for the jump from indie to major. It's in my opinion one of the great rap albums of all time, though I suppose we'll see how history judges it. Check out "Backstreet Freestyle" and "Money Trees," and then also all the other songs. Unless you have some formal limitation on independent releases, I would at least consider it.
posted by kensington314 at 5:27 PM on October 1, 2013

Forgot to link Gunz For Hire. Potomac Avenue linking MHz Legacy -- "Somewhere" reminded me of Intuition and Equalibrium's Finish with a Kill. See also Astro - KONY (one of the endless Kendrick Lamar responses - the sample makes this one).
posted by cashman at 12:24 PM on October 2, 2013

Doomtree seem to fit your criteria of being indie, with a dense sonic landscape, progressive, etc., though I have no idea if they're obscure or well-known.
posted by cnc at 1:01 PM on October 2, 2013

Response by poster: Thanks so much, everybody! I had tons of fun (as predicted) going through your recommendations, and was able to construct (imnsfho) a pretty slammin' show as a result. If you're in the mood for 84 minutes of great hip hop, you could do worse than to feast your ears on this, our common triumph:

Slappy Does Hip Hop (with Metafilter's Help)
posted by slappy_pinchbottom at 7:23 PM on October 17, 2013 [2 favorites]

Gah, sorry I was no help at all.
posted by cashman at 8:37 AM on October 19, 2013

Awesome - thanks slappy! Any way we can we get a tracklist too?
posted by googly at 10:19 AM on November 7, 2013

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