I’ve listened to hip-hop nonstop for years now, and due to the internet making nearly every song ever made accessible, I’ve stumbled upon a lot of hidden gems. Whether they made music in 1995 or 2013, each of these relatively unknown artists have created my day to day soundtrack, so I figured I’d share them with RefinedHype Nation to see what you guys think. Maybe you already know them, maybe this will be your first time. Either way, if you dig these artists, let us know in the comments - maybe this column could become a regular thing.
If you’re a hip-hop head, odds are you’ve heard the question “
”. The most common answers are Big L and Cassidy (which are both very respectable), but someone who always seems to get left out of the discussion is Celph Titled, AKA The Rubix Cuban, AKA The Motherfuckin’ Motherfucker. A long time member of AOTP and The Demigodz, Celph has been dropping crazy lines since 1993. He isn’t the type of rapper that makes you want to change the world, but he is the type of rapper that makes you wanna smash your dickhead landlord’s head in with a shovel: “And when we're holding the Tec we'll put a hole in your neck // Equipping you with a permanent T-Pain vocal effect.”
This Hawthorne, California (home of The Beach Boys) emcee is about as versatile as they come. Siete is the type of rapper who can drop knowledge on a DJ Premier beat one week (see: “The 7th Sense”, make a hood anthem the next, see: “
”), then come back and drop a break-up jam for the females to top it all off (see: “Way Too Long”). One would expect a Filipino rapper to get hated on, but Kixx has managed to avoid this by delivering a butter-smooth flow on every track - addressing his race only once with a couple lines on his song Rhythm Assisted Poetry: “I aint even caring, they saying I act black. // They lack facts, I don’t quite understand that. // How you act black, my brother? // Jeron taught me you can only act street, you can’t act a color.”
Fans of battle rap are familiar with Chilla Jones, but for some reason that’s about it. Many people only hear what he says on the surface, and write him off as just another battle rapper. However, Chilla is actually pushing the boundaries of lyricism more than any other rapper I can think of, with his trademark “scheme” style. In my opinion, he makes circa 2007 Lupe Fiasco (who I considered the most lyrical rapper at the time) look average with how complex his bars are. Check out the battle below, and let me know if you agree. “My shorty HOOD, with junk in her TRUNK, the flare concealed with a silence to MUFFLER sound, so BRAKE if she air the STEEL. So don’t BUMPER, look near her GRILL, and forget her number, tryna ask will (AXLE) offend her (FENDER) more than staring will (STEERING WHEEL)”.
Surreal and The Sound Providers
Surreal and The Sound Providers are actually the group that made me fall in love with hip-hop. Tampa MC Surreal delivers conscious messages through a slick flow, and The Sound Providers bring funky, head-nodding beats; mostly sampled from golden-age jazz. When these artists linked for the album “True Indeed”, it created something that sounds like it could be the backdrop to watching an hour long sunset with Meagan Good. In other words, beautiful music.
A lot of people listen to music because it lets them escape from the world, and just chill out for a second. Felly is the perfect artist for these types of people. This Connecticut MC/Producer makes music that goes along with his mellow lifestyle of drinking tea, smoking blunts by the lake, and dealing with the everyday struggle. He is far from a frat rapper however, speaking on things like his father passing away, and losing close friends to drugs/poor decisions. Felly’s production style/instrumental selections are reminiscent of 9th Wonder, and he tends to bless tracks with a laid-back, lackadaisical style.
This Detroit hip-hop group brings a golden-age essence to every track. Producer Apollo Brown provides sample-heavy backdrops to each of Journalist 103’s rhymes, who’s so hungry you can actually hear it in his voice. I rarely throw around the term “classic” when talking about albums - but Gas Mask (released in 2010,
) flows so well from song to song while lacking a dud that classic is what I have to call it. DJ SoKo scratches some of the hooks, bringing versatility that keeps the listener interested the whole way through.
I previously posted an article on
, and Dillon Cooper is just another dude on the rise who fits that list. He has a chance to be huge - bringing an old school vibe to both boom-bap and trap beats, making him one of the most unique dudes on the come up. Coop always looks like laid back, but brings an intensity on each track that lets the listener know he’s more than serious. If you watch the video below, you’ll see that he keeps his flows as fresh as his gear, and in my opinion may top Joey Bada$$ as the best young lyricist coming out of Brooklyn.
By Alec Zisi (