Whether it's from Jay-Z representing the Empire State or 2Pac showing California love, certain places have always loomed larger than others in hip-hop's mythology. Rap fans are quick to identify a few familiar destinations as the cities where hip-hop lives. The genre's biggest hubs breed talent and attract stars to propagate their own importance.
But hip-hop is a national genre, and the music isn't confined to a handful of prominent cities, even if fans and artists sometimes act as though it is. Many of hip-hop's most important, influential, and well-known artists hail from places just slightly off the radar. A number of smaller cities boast their own regional styles, independent labels, vibrant live scenes, or essential mark on hip-hop's history that deserve to be included in any rap conversation.
From the community that introduced us to Midwestern rap to the home of a live scene that helped build one of the moment's biggest stars, these are 10 U.S. cities with underrated hip-hop scenes.