So many great rappers have emerged in recent years that a list of the best active musicians is bound to have multiple slots reserved for hip-hop acts. However, as much as we love Kendrick Lamar, Chance the Rapper, Young Thug and other highly-publicized and acclaimed rappers, there are a few who we feel deserve more attention than they’re getting.
Who would have ever thought Looney Tunes would be the perfect source for a sample on a moody rap track? Jimi Tents, a young upstart from Brooklyn did apparently. “Elmer Fudd,” a standout cut from Tents’ debut EP, 5 O’Clock Shadow, uses audio of the famous cartoon hunter to juxtapose against terse bars packed with dark subject matters. It’s the sound of someone who’s grown up before they’re ready, but is primed to take on the world.
Founder of the Los Angeles collective Hellfyre Club, Nocando has been a bit quiet since his last album, 2014’s Jimmy the Burnout. His next release will hopefully be worth the wait. Nocando’s flow, which can range between erratic and disciplined, casts him as both seductive and unhinged. Also, his simile game is on point. (“Lips wetter than Progresso soup.”)
3. Nipsey Hussle (@NipseyHussle)
On YG’s impassioned political track “FDT” he needed a guest rapper who would be able to live up to his rage. With Nipsey Hussle, he may have very well found somebody who surpassed him. Hussle’s delivery on “FDT” and other tracks is that of somebody who has no time to waste as it going to live in the moment on every syllable in every word in every verse.
4. Trim (@TrimTali_)
A thick British accent and dirty electronic beats immediately cast Trim as a standout rapper, in that he “stands out.” Then, you lock into his flow and how it creates such an alluring combination with the production. Trim makes us feel like the genre of grime has a newfound life within it.
5. Joey Purp (@JoeyPurps)
We’re going to make a bold declaration: Chance the Rapper is not the best young Chicago rapper, despite his seven Grammy nominations. He might have a whole lot of charisma and versatility, but bar for bar, Joey Purp is the best. With his breakout mixtape, iiiDrops, (which featured Chance), Joey showed just how much ground he could cover on 11 songs. We can’t wait for his work to get even more layered.
6. Eevil Stöö (@EevilStoo)
Speaking of spooky, Eevil Stöö, a Finnish rapper with haunted beats who’s known to don a ski mask when performing, fits that bill. He also transcends the idea that you must be able to understand the language someone raps in. Even if you don’t speak Finnish, you’ll be able to be seduced by the urgency of Stöö’s voice.
7. Dälek (@Daleknwk)
The production of experimental hip-hop group Dälek’s latest album, Asphalt for Eden, sounds akin to My Bloody Valentine on codeine. That lethargy is cast over the vocals as well, making every word sounding like it’s enshrined in molasses. If you’re looking for something to bump in the whip, look elsewhere. If you want something to contemplate deeply to, check it out.
8. Flowdan (@Bigflowdan)
Another standout grime rapper, Flowdan is from a collective known as Roll Deep. “Deep” is certainly an apt descriptor for Flowdan’s bellowing…flow. He’s a rapper that sounds like James Earl Jones telling you spooky stories, and it is absolutely mesmerizing.
9. Apathy (@ApathyDGZ)
A rapper with the name “Apathy” must be pretty confident that they’ll be able to capture your attention with their skill. Thankfully, this veteran Connecticut rapper does just that. On standout track “Pay Your Dues,” Apathy speaks of what young rappers need to keep in mind as they eyeball success. It’s harsh truths delivered from a wise elder with absolutely no apathy.
10. Jay Rock (@JayRock)
Okay, Jay Rock is certainly not unknown, coming from the same Black Hippy collective as Kendrick Lamar, ScHoolboy Q and Ab-Soul. However, he feels relatively unheralded given how much he does, from his scene-stealing verse on “Money Trees” to his own songs like “Vice City.” Of all the Black Hippy crew members, we want to hang out with Jay the most.