What's up RefinedHype Nation. I'm back with five more dope underground albums you (probably) haven't heard of - mostly discovered through way too much clicking of related videos on YouTube. The Nation is full of rap nerds, so you might be familiar with some of these names, but we're willing to bet you'll find at least a few new faces as well.
Let's get into it...
1. Michael Christmas – Is This Art?
Ok, so RefinedHype Nation may have heard of this album before. However, it’s really too original (and fucking good) for me not to post. Throughout this mixtape, Christmas keeps to his regular guy image – but has the farthest thing from a regular guy flow. Christmas twists wordplay and stories in a way that somehow makes things like buying cigarettes at the store and getting yelled at by your dad sound exciting. Starting with “Y’all Trippin’” all the way through “Vinnie Johnson” Christmas manages to maintain a consistent theme with each song flowing perfectly into the next, making Is This Art? sound more like an album than a mixtape. One of the best and most original on the come up, Christmas is someone that every underground fan should give a listen to, and Is This Art? is the perfect place to start.
2. Surreal & The Sound Providers – True Indeed
This album is perfect for an underground fan, and is actually the album that turned me into a hip-hop head. Florida emcee Surreal drops nothing but knowledge with a butter smooth flow, while The Sound Providers sample various golden-age jazz tunes - creating one of the best overall projects I’ve heard to date. Because Surreal sticks to facts and refuses to dumb it down on any verse, and The Sound Providers seemingly refuse to make a bad beat, each song fits perfectly into place, and the album as a whole seems like one long, dope, jazz-influenced hip-hop track. All said and done, True Indeed is the perfect album to listen to as the sun begins to shine and summer finally comes around after this long, cold winter.
3. Living Legends – Almost Famous
Not many artists can make music as powerful, yet easy listening as Living Legends. Consisting of emcees Murs, The Grouch, Luckyiam, Sunspot Jonz, and Eligh among others, there’s no question to whether or not this group knows how to make hip-hop. Living Legends has created countless albums since 1996, but none have hit me quite like Almost Famous did. I was first put on to Almost Famous because I was a big fan of Slug, and saw that he had multiple guest appearances on the album. After listening to what are now my personal favorites, Nothing Less and Night Prowler, I decided to hear out the whole album, and found that they speak not only for the average person, but for anyone involved in the hip-hop community. Each verse on this album is well thought out, and serves purpose towards enlightening listeners and guiding them towards a better path. This album is a great listen for anyone who just needs a second to take a break from life, and enjoy some real music from real people.
4. Brother Ali – Shadows on the Sun
A lot of people know Brother Ali, however most people aren’t too familiar with one of his earlier (and best, in my opinion) projects, Shadows on the Sun. Shadows finds Ali in a place before success, heavily reminiscing on his early days of being discriminated against because of his Albinism. This album is the deepest I’ve heard Ali go into his past stories, truly letting listeners know how it felt growing up in a house where his father despised him because of his condition, and how his mother was torn between caring for him and his father. The pictures painted in this album may not be happy, but they are still as detailed and beautiful as one would expect from Ali, if not more so. When listening to this album, one truly gets to feel what Ali felt, and will probably get a whole new perspective on the man the hip-hop community has grown to love.
5. Pete Rock and InI – Center of Attention
So I’ve already posted this album in my “
” series, but because it’s my favorite album of all time, I thought I’d share it again. InI is a rap group consisting of Rob-O, Grap Luva (Pete Rock’s younger brother), I Love H.I.M., Marco Polo, and DJ Boodakhan. Each member of this group is pure hip-hop, and it shows in both their subject matter and delivery on each record. Center of Attention was recorded in 1995, right around the time The Main Ingredient was released, and finds Pete Rock sonically at his best. The production on this album is 100% smooth, laid back hip-hop that brings a vibe reminiscent of blunt cruising on a warm night with the homies. Each track pushes the essence of “real” and it’s clear that this album was made out of love for hip-hop, with no monetary or fame influences. Every underground fan should give this album at least one full listen, as I can almost guarantee it wont be your last.
So there you have it RefinedHype, some new dope underground projects. Feel free to leave some other projects for me to check out in the comments or on Twitter (
), as I'm always looking for some new music.