1. Tech N9ne
From: Kansas City, MO
Signature Song: Tech N9ne "Imma Tell" (2002)
Tech N9ne is the most underrated rapper ever but thanks to his incredibly loyal fanbase, he's also one of the most successful independent rappers ever. Tech was certainly ahead of his time when it came to business. He found ways to win independently throughout the 2000s when most rappers were going on SMACK DVD to show off how much advance money they got from their major deal. He built his Strange Music label from the ground up on the foundation of his top-notch rapping.
We'll never understand why hip-hop heads front on Tech. He's a rapper's rapper, a first-rate lyricist capable of a variety of styles who can spit double-time with the best of them. Plus, he puts on one of the best live shows in all of hip-hop (he was highly offended when the L.A. Times accused him of lip-syncing). In other words, he's the exact opposite of all the things bitter rap fans say is wrong with rap music today.
So how come he's so unappreciated? Well, some of it certainly has to do with region. Tech puts on for the Midwest, a part of the country many people dimiss as the "flyover states." Plus, he's embraced movements most rap fans refuse to acknowledge, like the Juggalos. And ultimately, no matter how you look at it, Tech is a hardcore rapper who's always said that he'd never go mainstream, the mainstream would come to him.
Last year it really did when Wayne gave him a chance to shine on Tha Carter IV (of course he killed his verse) and he even scored a Billboard hit with his album, All 6s and 7s. Bottom line: in 2012, he landed at number 20 on Forbes annual list of Hip-Hop Cash Kings. But he was winning even before then. In 2008, the three rappers who made the most money from touring were Jay-Z, Kanye West, and...guess who?
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