Notable Artists: Tech N9ne, Krizz Kaliko, Kutt Calhoun, Rich the Factor, Fat Tone, Mac Lethal, Solé, Skatterman & Snug Brim
Most Underrated Artist: Rich the Factor
Most Underrated Contribution: Strange Music

Far removed from hip-hop's power centers in Atlanta, New York, and Los Angeles, Kansas City doesn't get a ton of attention, but that suits it just fine. Spearheaded by the tireless work of marquee spitter Tech N9ne and the independent label he founded, Strange Music, the city has created a hip-hop economy of its own, and its scene is one of the most supportive and cohesive in the country.

Kansas City hip-hop simply plays by slightly different rules. By touring underserved Midwestern markets and putting out a reliable, steady stream of music, artists like Tech N9ne, Krizz Kaliko, and Kutt Calhoun have managed to build sizeable fan bases in places where the rappers who dominate radio would never bother to go. Meanwhile, Strange Music has become a home for exactly what its name promises, giving rappers like horrorcore legend Brotha Lynch Hung a platform to release music that wouldn't fit within the sanitized confines of most label rosters or blog favorites.

It's not cool in a "secret show in SoHo" kind of way, but in an era where rap tends to be exclusively the product of major labels or kids trying to get on those labels, it's another way to get by, and that's very cool indeed.