Rap music on the margins almost never wants to stay there—especially in 2013. Even in the jiggy vs. backpacker wars of the late '90s, critics of popular rap always seemed to imagine that, if the majors weren't in place, Rawkus stars would be widely known, and the best technical wizards would top the pops. Plenty of artists emphasized staying independent. But whatever kind of rap you made, the point was rarely to stay underground. The goal was to be, and cue Canibus, "on top of the pops, not on the bottom with rocks."
For August's edition of #DeepCuts, an effort was made to avoid some of the more obvious recent mixtapes. Gucci Mane's three-disc Molly-Gas-Lean monster set was unexpectedly one of the better releases of August. Likewise, Dizzy Wright's The Golden Age is getting considerable attention, and rightfully so. Instead, we went digging for tapes that haven't achieved quite the same level of noteriety.
This doesn't mean that they should be marginalized, though. Many of these artists could end up with considerably higher profiles in the next few years. Not that we only included obscure performers. Rappers like YG or Stalley have received pretty heavy coverage—YG is signed to Def Jam. But it's easy to forget how quickly a rising artist, even one on a major label, can be lost in the shuffle.
Ultimately, our goal is to separate the wheat from the chaff in the high-noise, low-signal worlds of DatPiff, LiveMixtapes, and HotNewHipHop. So finding songs worth hearing is the real purpose of the column, without concern for affiliation or marketing, connections or reputation. At the end of the day, a sound only takes over if the songs are there. An artist only rises if people want to hear them.
Here are August's #DeepCuts: The Mixtape Tracks You're Sleeping On.