Welcome to Going Left, a new monthly column from Complex that highlights the indie rappers you need to be in tune with. It’s often difficult to keep up with the onslaught of weekly releases, so this monthly series is intended to help steer you in the right direction. 

The plan is for this column to highlight indie rappers. I don’t want to call anyone “underground,” because that term is pretty ambiguous, but it’s clear that there’s a whole scene of artists releasing music that isn’t preoccupied with the charts, sales, or Grammy consideration. These artists may be considered “under the radar” to some, but I feel they’re consistently releasing some of the most thrilling, boundary-pushing rap out there, and they deserve to be amplified more. 

While speaking to people for my “underground rap” story last year, one of the topics that kept coming up was how the media could do a better job of covering acts strictly on the basis of their talent. I think it’s important to remove hierarchical barriers from music, and this will be my little corner of the world to do that. 

For the first edition of Going Left, I’m highlighting work from Che Noir and Radamiz, as well as collaborative projects from Lord Jah-Monte Ogbon and Navy Blue, and S!LENCE and Wavy Bagels. I also got to have a lengthy conversation with this month’s featured artist Che Noir about her Food For Thought album.

Che has earned a reputation as one of the sharpest up-and-coming MCs in the game over the past three years. The Buffalo rapper-producer has made a mark with streetwise, lyrically dense projects like Juno and 2020’s As God Intended, contributing to a historic movement of upstate New York rap. In January, she dropped Food For Thought, a project she says was “originally supposed to be an EP leading up to another album I was working on.” But anyone who’s a fan of her thoughtful lyricism isn’t surprised that the knowledge-focused project soon became an album. She told me about her aspirations as a producer, being a woman in rap, and how both COVID and the loss of her brother impacted the creative process of Food For Thought. 

This first edition of Going Left has been long in the making, but I look forward to keeping future entries as current as possible with all the great work that’s out there. This month, start out with Che’s interview below, followed by some words on the three other albums.