Now, you’re probably wary of this one, as it could go a few ways, but let’s clear the air before we begin – and before I’m yank me off of here quicker than Porsha Williams went after Kenya Moore on her “still look pretty” tip. I digress, though. This won’t be a pandering post, nor will it include just “known indie artists.” So, in the words of some great minds, “leggo.” For the purposes of this conversation, “indie” also refers to artists that do not have exclusive deals with “major” labels, even if they’ve had distribution through a major.
(In no particular order…)
You don’t really find many “hip-hop groups” these days. Sure, you’ve got collectives and conglomerates, which I respect, but not many flat-out “groups”. This is the reason why I rock with Fly Rebel Society heavily. They started out as individual artists who were brought together over a common bond of music. They’re like brothers and their music showcases a variety of topics and approaches that’s still cohesive (DJBooth likened them to rap’s Power Rangers, without the obvious cheesiness). For more on them, check out this interview DMVixen (who’s been pretty instrumental in getting me introduced to a lot of people as well). There’s a reason why they always say #SkiesAintSafe.
Shout-out to my TeamDAR family, but it’s True‘s often “controversial” and unapologetic nature that earns the Baltimore native a spot here. He’s like Immortal Technique – if Immortal Technique frequently opened his soul and put it on display for the world to hear it. From intellectual raps to Nas-like storytelling, and even the occasional “sophisticated ignorance” track, True’s showcased a marked improvement on every release. And because of that, he’s been one of the few who’ve made me step my own ish up (production-wise, blog-wise, and lyrically).
You could argue against (and somewhat succeed) labeling Tech N9ne as “indie.” But there’s something to be said about a man who’s dropped heat for as long as some artists’ve been born. And to done a vast majority of it without any true “major” backing, even though he gets literally anyone he wants on his tracks? Living legend. While his music isn’t for everyone, it doesn’t need to be.
I’ll be the first to admit that I didn’t get Danny Brown when he first started making a lot of waves, but when you listen to the rapper, you start to see that it’s not just pills, pills, and tomfoolery. Although some of it is, he’s actually got some depth to his music. He’s kind of like ODB meets B.O.B., and that’s not a bad thing. That’s a good thing – just like anytime I can work in a Diamond Dallas Page reference into a hip-hop opinion piece.
I first heard this artist when I found his music on Soundcloud. He, like Danny Brown, is a Detroit native. Reid reminds me of J. Cole circa The Warm Up with a bit of Fabolous for good measure. It would appear that’s he’s pretty unknown, but don’t let that discourage you from peeping his music. And since Drake left an instrumental gap on “Draft Day” for freestyles, I don’t feel strange dropping this “Draft Day” freestyle Reid did on here.
Promoters, can you name a rap artist you kinda beefed with who ended up being one of your biggest showcases? That’s how I got to know of Raven Felix at first. While her music could be lumped into that vague descriptive group of “white girl rap”, Raven manages to st(r)ay away from that considerably, all the while still having fun. Additionally, she doesn’t make it a “race” thing with her music, which is worth a lot.
Dugee F. Buller is kind of like what’d happen if Kendrick and K.R.I.T. had a collabo album. In short, concept-filled, Southern-tinged story rap with an ironic, yet non-pandering, twist. I first found out about him through Arteest, a personal friend and owner of Thee Arteest. I’ll let the music speak for him, but I will say he’s damn knowledgeable and gives back to the community.
If you didn’t make it here, that’s no slight to you. I’ve still got a few more of these lists to post!