An avid lover of music with a flair for writing. A core hip-hop fan with a thing for boom-bap beats and bars.
What does being an underrated rapper really mean?
Right now, hip-hop is undoubtedly one of the most popular genres of music in the United States of America right now, which is partly due to the number of artistes in the industry that keeps increasing on a daily basis. From the veterans such as Eminem, Jay-Z, Lil Wayne, Kanye West and the likes, to the current generation of Hip-hop artistes such as Kendrick Lamar, J. Cole, Drake, Young Thug, Future, Lil Uzi Vert and the rest, the spotlight has been taken by the big names in the industry which leaves the less popular but brilliant rappers scrambling for attention.
Being an underrated rapper does not necessarily mean being shrouded in obscurity however, it can connote not being given the props deserved for the time and effort expended in making great music. In this case, it means underrated rappers are rarely acknowledged on Hip-Hop Twitter, their albums are rarely reviewed by popular Hip-Hop influencers and magazines such as Rolling Stone magazine, XXL magazine, Dj Akademiks, Anthony Fantano and the likes . This makes it increasingly difficult for these rappers to get mainstream attention and recognition.
Here is a list of five underrated rappers who I feel deserve more attention from mainstream audience.
Hopsin is one of the hottest and most underrated Emcees in the game. His ability to make a listener feel every dark and honest thought in his “ill mind of Hopsin” series is not really talked about enough. His “ill mind of Hopsin” series is an avenue for an introspective Hopsin to share his intimate thoughts, feelings and beliefs in a soul baring manner. It gives the listener a look into the dark mind of one of the realest emcees in the game with all masks off and paints a vivid picture in the listeners mind in order to get his listener to resonate with him on such a topic. The ill mind of Hopsin 4 and ill mind of Hopsin 7 are the best examples of these works. His fourth album “Pound Syndrome” is one of his best ever works as he digs deep into his feelings and experiences and he pours it all out like a genius that he is however this album is not acknowledged enough. Some are of the opinion that his lyrics are corny but to me his lyrics are reflective and introspective.
RECOMMENDED ALBUM: POUND SYNDROME
After her breakthrough hit single “ooouuu” in 2016 which peaked at number 19 on the US Billboard Hot 100, the Brooklyn bred fire spitting rapper has remained consistent in releasing freestyles which have gained the attention of listeners however her skill is not talked about the enough. As she raps on “Smoove Kriminal” “This industry is fake, it’s just too fictional/ I could school your favorite rappers, I’m your new principal”. Yes, she is that good. She raps mainly about her experiences with violence, her sexuality, her rise to the top and of course her wealth. She is also a top level lyricist as she is good with wordplay, syllabic patterns. Her flow oozes a particular feel of gangster rap not like those of 50 cent, Dr Dre, Biggie but hers and it is so beautiful because it seems effortless. Her skill drew the attention of Eminem himself which resulted in them collaborating on “Unaccommodating”. Her debut album, “Herstory in the making” is not given enough credit which I feel it deserves.
She released her latest EP “Redflu” on the day this article was published.
RECOMMENDED EP: Herstory
Rapsody is one of the few female emcees who embrace the technical aspect of the hip-hop culture and also one of the few who specialize in conscious rap. Her lyricism is topnotch as she is known for intricate rhyme patterns, wordplay and metaphors in her raps. Inspired by one of the true pioneers of hip-hop, Jay-Z, her story telling ability gives vivid and clear pictures of her life experiences. She also advocates feminism and female empowerment in her raps. Her debut album “Laila’s Wisdom” which was released in 2017 was nominated for the best rap album and best rap song. She has also collaborated with Kendrick Lamar for several projects. Her level of technical expertise and understanding of the hip-hop culture is not acknowledged enough. She remains one of the few female emcees who stay rooted in hip-hop culture.
RECOMMENDED ALBUM: Laila’s wisdom
Lucas is one of the most technically skilled emcees in the game right now and what sets him apart from others is his calm, cool and effortless delivery. After the release of his fourth mixtape, “508-507-2209”, Lucas received widespread exposure as the mixtape spawned hit singles such as “I’m sorry”, “ultrasound” and others. His single “I’m not racist” also received critical acclaim and was nominated for the Grammys music video of the year. He is also known for remixing popular hip-hop songs such as “Mask Off” by Future, Blocboy JB’s “Look Alive”, Dababy’s “Suge” and other hip-hop songs. His ability to switch flows is quite impressive. His feature on Eminem’s “Kamikaze” album was one of the moments of the album as Lucky You in which he was featured in was among the best rap Songs of 2018 and also got a Grammy nomination. Eminem’s reverence for Joyner which he expressed on the track “The Ringer” says a lot about his ability and skills. He is a top-tier lyricist who deserves to be acknowledged for his pen game.
RECOMMENDED MIXTAPE: 508-507-2209
Number one on this list is Nathan John Feuerstein who is known by his initials as NF is one of the most underrated rappers the rap game has ever seen by a mile. NF has been viewed as an outcast in the hip-hop game mostly due to the fact he is a Christian rapper and he does not use curse words. He mostly raps about his struggles with mental health, his childhood experiences, his mother’s addiction to pills and his religious belief. However, NF has explained that although he is a Christian, he does not make Christian music although traces of his belief might be reflected in his music. NF has always struggled with something throughout his career which is his similarities to the living rap legend, Eminem. He possesses that Eminem like flow and fast paced delivery and since they both had troubled childhoods, these comparisons have only increased. NF has cited Eminem as his prime influence in hip hop, claiming that he was all he listened to at a point. NF’s delivery is such that it is graciously and effortlessly done and with an Eminem like flow, he can do no wrong. The technical prowess behind his lyrics also needs to be acknowledged, top notch wordplay, simple and soothing to the ears. His struggles with mental health and his ability to get a listener to resonate with him on how to deal with it has made him attract a lot of fans. Albums like Therapy Session, Perception and The Search have served as an outlet for him to relate his experiences with his loyal fan base. Despite a loyal fan base, he does not get the attention he deserves and as he raps on his track “Returns” “just let me be, eventually they’ll see what I’m worth”.
RECOMMENDED ALBUMS: THE SEARCH, PERCEPTION
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2020 Fawaz Akintunde
Fawaz Akintunde (author) from Lagos, Nigeria on June 25, 2020:
Yeah, Marissa, he deserves to get attention. His skills are not complimented enough
Marissa from Nigeria on June 25, 2020:
NF!! My guy. I feel like he is getting recognition lately. Lovers of rappers are starting to turn to him. Just like he said “just let me be, eventually they’ll see what I’m worth”. It's happening and I feel so happy he is getting the recognition he deserves!
Folad on May 30, 2020:
Ige on May 22, 2020:
Nice one man... You really know your stuff
Femi on May 22, 2020:
Great article bro