Age: 28
Recent ProjectStep Brothers 2

Starlito has become one of the most respected and most slept on rappers in the industry simultaneously. A thoughtful, considered lyricist, he's too Southern to make waves among true school heads, and too unconcerned with radio and club play to make inroads in the South's industry machinery. He's also unconcerned with cheap technical pyrotechnics so often employed by novice MCs, preferring a vulnerable, honest perspective.

Subtle and unassuming, his work seems intended to draw as little attention to how truly creative and clever it really is, at once dense with artful wordplay, but emotionally naked and open. One hesitates, even, to call it "wordplay," since the purpose of his writing seems more interested in conveying complex, nuanced, true ideas in a poetic manner, rather than hitting listeners over the head with how clever he can be. His recent project, Step Brothers 2, garnered he and his frequent cohort Don Trip—another rapper whose profile nationally doesn't match the quality of his music—more press, but they remain your favorite rapper's favorite rappers. —David Drake

RELATED: Interview: A Discussion With Starlito and Don Trip On Independence, the Evolving Industry, and "Step Brothers 2"

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