Notable Artists: Sir Mix-A-Lot, Macklemore, Blue Scholars, Dyme Def, Common Market, Jake One, Shabazz Palaces, THEESatisfaction, Sol, Grynch, Grayskul, Nacho Picasso, Blue Sky Black Death, J Pinder
Most Underrated Artist: THEESatisfaction
Most Underrated Contribution: KEXP

Some people might see the recent success of Macklemore and Ryan Lewis as irrevocable proof of Seattle’s corniness (this is, after all, a city whose previous radio rap impact began and ended with the song “Baby Got Back”), but, in reality, the duo’s rise should be attributed largely to the strength of the region’s independent hip-hop scene.

Acts like Blue Scholars, Dyme Def, Grynch, Common Market and Grayskul developed a blueprint for successfully touring the Northwest’s colleges and small market venues, and University of Washington radio station KEXP consistently promoted local alternative rappers, all of which helped set the stage for a larger act to catapult to widespread visibility.

And even as recent years have seen Seattle rap witness its biggest pop moment, it has also been a boom period for experimental sounds. From the freewheeling live scene spearheaded by Shabazz Palaces and THEESatisfaction, to the hazy recordings of blog favorites Nacho Picasso and Blue Sky Black Death, Seattle is putting out some of the most unusual hip-hop of any city in the country, and it seems perfectly positioned to keep the momentum going.