Underground hip hop

Underground hip hop

Underground Hip-hop, Underground Rap, or Undie (to draw comparison to "indie" or independent rock) is an umbrella term for hip-hop and rap music outside the general commercial canon. Independent record labels are the major supplier of underground hip-hop, but artists who are not signed to any label represent the independent scene just as much as their signed counterparts. This non-commercialized hip hop is represented through its other elements as well, such as graffiti, b-boying (break dancing), turntablism (djing), freestyle rap, and beatboxing.Fact|date=February 2008


Underground artists rap about a different subject matter than their commercial counterparts. Songs tend to focus more on personal issues, politics, relationships, and philosophy, and tend to be more introspective and self-critical. However, underground hip-hop also has roots in battle rapping as many underground rappers display the egoism and braggadocio common to rap music. Underground production tends to be diverse, drawing on such musical styles as jazz, funk, electronica, and techno, as well as more traditional hip-hop for beats. The music can also be more lyrically diverse and have less repetition than mainstream rap. Hardcore hip-hop is also a major contributor to the scene.


Artists who identify as underground rappers are known to carve out an anti-commercial music identity. According to author Cheryl L. Keyes in her book "Rap Music and Street Consciousness": quote|"Many rap artists strive to remain "underground", refusing to identify with a pop market and insisting that staying "real" necessitates rawness, authenticity and a continued connection with the streets."cite book | author = Cheryl L. Keyes | authorlink = | coauthors = | year = 2004 | month = March | title = Rap Music and Street Consciousness | others = | pages = 336 | publisher = University of Illinois Press | id = ISBN 0-25207-201-4] |Cheryl L. Keyes (p. 122)


The rise of Underground Hip-hop can be traced to the history of a few record labels and events during the 1990s, paralleling the creation and commercialization of gangsta rap. At the same time that N.W.A. was pioneering the sound that would become Gangsta Rap, rappers such as Organized Konfusion, Del Tha Funky Homosapien and Common were creating the sound which would be later categorized as "Underground". The 1990s saw the creation of the Living Legends and Freestyle Fellowship crews, Fat Beats, Rhymesayers Entertainment, Stones Throw, Anticon, and Def Jux. In 1996, Scribble Jam, a hip-hop festival which has cultivated the underground scene and launched many of its best-known artists, was organized. The Internet also played a very crucial role in spreading the appeal of underground hip-hop to the masses. 1997–1998 saw the rise of audio websites such as UndergroundHipHop.com and file sharing sites like Napster quickly spread the music of indie artists at an unprecedented pace.


If the 1990s saw the formation of underground hip-hop, the 2000s saw it reaching mainstream audiences. Many artists, such as Cage Kennylz, Aesop Rock, Boombox Disciples, Sage Francis, El-P, Mars ILL, Atmosphere, and Andre Nickatina saw their albums chart on the Billboard 200. Rhymesayers Entertainment signed a distribution deal with Warner Music Group in 2007 which allowed several underground artists such as MURS, Abstract Rude, and Grayskul, among others, to be signed with a major label. The late 90s and early 2000s also gave rise to both old and new underground artists such as Cannibal Ox, MF DOOM, J Dilla,Jean Grae, Oldominion, Grayskul, Infinito 2017, Medusa, and Ill Bill, as many of these artists went on tours and put out mixtapes which led to further popularity. Hardcore Hip-hop is also a major contributor to the scene. Acts Like Hell Razah (Sunz of Man), Tragedy Khadafi, Sean Price And the Boot Camp Click, Az, Royce Da 5'9, Joell Ortiz, Saigon are major acts that are very popular on the independent scene. There are also some up-and-coming artists representing the new younger version of Underground Hip-hop with the help of independent Labels Like Koch Records, Nature Sounds, and BBE, which has opened up the door for more Hip-hop acts on the underground scene to attract a larger following.


Further reading


ee also

*Alternative hip hop
*Conscious rap
*List of underground hip hop musicians
*Political rap

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