Hard to believe it's still possible in this age of low-budge videos and WSHH fuckery, but there's actually such a thing as an underexposed rapper. The problem is no longer about getting your shit out there, it's about getting your shit heard when there's millions of other shit dropping daily. Too many choices, not enough time. Inevitably, some good MCs fall through the cracks—like our boy Wiz Khalifa, whose new album, Deal or No Deal, is out today (buy it now). The Pittsburgh rapper's been around for a minute, but doesn't get nearly as much buzz as many inferior peers.
Well, we at Complex are here to change all that. In honor of Wiz and other unheralded artists, we've put together a list of the 10 most underrated new rappers—and by "new," we mean "relatively new." Dudes like Curren$y and Peedi Crakk are definitely overlooked, but they've already had a moment in the spotlight. We looked specifically for MCs who've consistently flown under the radar. Read on to sample 10 rappers you need to know now...
FROM: Pittsburgh, PA
LISTEN: "Take Away"
WHY WE CO-SIGN: Young Khalifa has a well-defined lane—celebratory anthems about weed x money x hoes—and he stays in it with admirable gusto. He's got the infectious hooks of Weezy combined with Snoop's happy-stoner-swag, all over some dope, laidback, synth-heavy beats on his latest, Deal or No Deal. You might as well call it Life of Auto-Tune, 'cause the shit sounds great.
DOWNLOAD THIS: Prince of the City 2 (click HERE)
FROM: Huntsville, AL
LISTEN: "Diamonds & Cadillacs"
WHY WE CO-SIGN: The half-Korean MC was definitely on the verge of something when he dropped "Rollin'" (and mad remixes of it) last year, but for some reason he kinda fell by the wayside. We won't let his buzz die, though. Aside from an awesome name (and hairstyle), we give props to J.C. for being one of the unlikeliest would-be rap stars in recent memory. He's one of those carefree Southern dudes whose M.O. in life is simply to get fucked up and have fun. His rhymes are funny, straightforward, and always listenable. Now it's about time he had a video with a budget bigger than a used-car commercial.
DOWNLOAD THIS: Fear the Future (click HERE)
CHIP THA RIPPER
FROM: Cleveland, OH
WHY WE CO-SIGN: Hailing from the same St. Clair streets as Bone Thugs, Chip first gained exposure on records alongside fellow Ohio native Kid Cudi, including Man on the Moon standout "Hyyerr." But where Cudi is all suburban angst and left-field lyrics, Chip is more of a conventional rapper—and that's not a bad thing. In both theme and wordplay, he kinda comes off like a Midwest version of Young Dro, and you already know we fucks with Dro. Check Chip's blog for his upcoming The Cleveland Show mixtape, dropping December 1.
DOWNLOAD THIS: Can't Stop Me (click HERE)
FROM: Little Rock, AR
WHY WE CO-SIGN: Jones, who was first introduced to the world by Killer Mike, came up bangin' in Little Rock, but Crip ties aren't the only reason to ride for his music. With an analytical mind and lyrical dexterity to go with impeccable flows and harmonies, he brings a complexity that's rare for both Southern and gang-affiliated rap. Look for his new mixtape, YSL, in early 2010.
DOWNLOAD THIS: C.O.L.O.R.S (Bangin' on Wax) (click HERE)
U-N-I (Thurzday (left) and Y-O)
FROM: Inglewood, CA
LISTEN: "Land of the Kings"
WHY WE CO-SIGN: California rap is more than gangsta block tales and jerkin' anthems. Seriously. This duo from Inglewood blends breezy soulful beats with witty, conscious verses that has them sounding like the West Coast's answer to Little Brother. Only without all the rhymes about how wack rap is. Now that's refreshing.
DOWNLOAD THIS: A Love Supreme (click HERE)
FROM: Brooklyn, NY
LISTEN: "Computer Love"
WHY WE CO-SIGN: Theo's spacey, electro brand of hip-house might confuse your average rap fan, but anyone who's open to Kanye and Kid Cudi's more experimental work will feel right at home.
DOWNLOAD THIS: This Charming Mixtape (click HERE)
FROM: Richmond, VA
LISTEM: "Let the Bass Go"
WHY WE CO-SIGN: Most people know Nick F because of his pre-So Far Gone affiliation with Drake. We know him because he's able to conjure up vivid street stories as well as he can laugh-out-loud mixtape punchlines. That's a win/win.
DOWNLOAD THIS: Thank You (click HERE)
FROM: Gadsen, AL
LISTEN: "Pop the Trunk"
WHY WE CO-SIGN: The white boy from the 'Bama has been popping up on hooks lately (Juelz Santana's "Mix It With The Medicine," Slim Thug's "I Ran"), but he's actually a multi-dimensional artist in his own right. His nasal, rapid-fire flow has developed an underground following in the South, and it looks like his upcoming mixtape Trunk Muzik might be the one to finally break through nationwide.
DOWNLOAD THIS: Ball of Flames: The Ballad of Slick Rick E. Bobby (click HERE)
FROM: Detroit, MI
LISTEN: "Brother's Keeper"
WHY WE CO-SIGN: Rap from the D usually gets categorized as either Em-affiliated or on some ICP/Esham crazy shit, but not enough props are given to the city's legit underground scene. Finale is a key figure in that world, and his debut barely made a ripple when it dropped last April. Time to take another (or a first) listen—it's got dope beats (including shit from Dilla, Black Milk, and the above track from Nottz) and some rap for people that actually like rap, an audience that seems to be dwindling by the day.
BUY THIS: A Pipe Dream and a Promise (click HERE)
FROM: Bay Area, CA
LISTEN: "Dopest Forreal"
WHY WE CO-SIGN: In the post-Hyphy world, it's a good thing the Bay still has artists like The Jacka, a gritty lyricist who can do it all, churning out radio-friendly hits and going line-for-line with East Coast rappers like Cormega and Freeway.
BUY THIS: Tear Gas (click HERE)