alright, i had some extra time to kill so what the hell.
most of these songs throw back to original hip hop when drum snares and scratching were beats instead of brassy trumpets and obnoxiously loud bass but this isn’t about old school or foundation hip hop, so if you don’t know who rakim or nwa is then it’d be better to listen to that shit first.
All Natural - Queens Get the Money
just recently, someone upped their album Second Nature in the underground hip hop cult after I requested it, having never heard of them before. this album blew me away – dope flows, beats, lyrics = no filler at all. All Natural is seriously talented and seriously underrated. (Extra HW: “Elements of Style”).
"Queens get the money, broads get the boot
For runnin little game, tryin' to play me for my loot,
I'm down to split cash, with girls with class
But all you goldiggers can kiss my ass"
Aceyalone - Everything Changes
Ave Stites - Reach
Binary Star - Honest Expression
killer verses about the state of hip hop from both One Be Lo and Senim, but the samples and dialogue midway through are the juice, building up to the last verse. (Extra HW: “Reality Check”).
Blackalicious - Blazing Arrow
Black Star - Astronomy (8th Light)
J Dilla & Common – Nag Champa
it’s a Common-emceed track, and it’s on a Common record, but this is all Dilla, hence the first billing. yhis is an incredible song – from the rhythm to the flow, but mostly just for Dilla’s production. RIP J Dilla aka Jay Dee
Cunninlynguists - Seasons
Cyne - Steady
Deltron 3030 - 3030
most people have already heard this track, mastermind, madness, and probably all of the 3030 album, but this is still del's best song far and away.
De La Soul - Brakes
Digable Planets - For Corners
Eyedea & Abilities - Bottle Dreams
gives me goosebumps every time i listen to it. Eyedea tells a story of a violin prodigy who endures abuse from her father. he sort of has a different flow, cutting rhymes short with pauses or making them a lot longer, but it works every time i hear him. the first time you play this, you’ll keep hitting back on your ipod over and over.
Edo G feat. Masta Ace & Pete Rock - Wishin'
EPMD - Symphony 2000
Foreign Exchange – All That You Are
definitely a relaxing, chill beat, and the way they trade verses goes perfectly with their flow. check out their album Connected if you haven’t heard it already. Phonte from Little Brother makes up part of the crew.
Foreign Legion - Full Time B-Boy
Five Deez - Decapitated Orgasms
Gangstarr feat. Inspectah Deck - Above the Clouds
Guru and Inspectach Deck both go metaphorical on the stars, clouds, and universe with a beat that sounds almost exotic. from Gangstarr’s album Moment of Truth, recorded in 1998, this track is timeless. both verses are ridiculously good, but Inspectah shines through with his opening lines –
“I leave scientists mentally scarred, triple extra large
Wild like rock stars who smash guitars
Poison bars from the gods, bust holes in your mirage”
The Grouch - Once Upon a Rhyme
GZA feat. Ghostface Killa & RZA - 4th Chamber
Heiroglyphics - Mics of the Roundtable
maybe it's the name of the song, but every time i hear it, i picture each mc standing around in a circle passing the mic back and forth. don’t sleep on Heiro
Heiroglyphics - Classic
Heiruspecs - 5ves
Illogic - First Trimester
Illogic rhymes from ALL perspectives in a story about an abortion. the piano beat is epic and the lyrics likewise. definetly his best track. (Extra HW: "Hate In a Puddle”).
Immortal Technique - Peruvian Cocaine
Intellekt and Dirty Digits – Photos Do Not Bend
J-Live - Nights Like This
J-live is one of the most talented MCs out right now and “Nights Like This” is one of my favorite laid-back, chill songs. J-live used to teach middle school in Brooklyn and his lyrics reflect that of a socially aware rapper. (Extra HW: “Brooklyn Public”).
J Dilla feat. Common & D'Angelo - So Far So Good
Junk Science - Wherego?
Kanye West – Coming Home
i know Kanye isn’t underground, but i don’t really care. hands down my favorite song of his. one verse long, Kanye raps about what seems to be a woman until his last couple lines. it also features a nice vocal background/hook, too. not on college dropout or late registration.
k-Os - The Love Song
Kev Brown – Albany
Louis Logic - The Ugly Truth
4 verses long, Logic goes on a tirade about jews, blacks, asians, and gays. it’s not what it initially seems – pay attention to the last couple lines, and the meaning will come full circle. this is modern socially conscious hip-hop at its best. (Extra HW: “Best Friends”).
Living Legends - Nothing Less
Lifesavas – Hellohihey
Murs - Like What
from his album, Murs Rules the World, this track embraces hip-hop roots, with shout-outs by the Living Legends crew in the background. and as they’ll tell you, they don’t care much about anything except hip-hop:
“Destiny, we took and shaped it,
Heart and soul, we took and taped it
LOVE hip-hop while others hate it”
Mos Def feat. DJ Honda - Travellin' Man
Mystick Journeyman - Changeyaflow
Nas – The Message
Nas : underground? no. mainstream? moreso. commercial? never. I put him on this list just because he is one of the most influential hip hop artists ever. he recorded one of the best hip hop albums of ALL TIME, Illmatic, when he was only 19. this track is from It Was Written, and features one of my favorite verses after sampling his classic line from NY State of Mind as the chorus:
“I never sleep cause sleep is the cousin of death”
Nujabes feat. Cise Starr – Highs 2 Lows
Nice & Smooth – Sometimes I Rhyme Slow
Organized Konfusion feat. Cella Dwellas - Ill Collabo
ill collabo for sure. in the heiro tradition of smooth, flawless transitions between each mc, this track also features a nice adrenaline beat. (Extra HW: “Stress”)
Oh No feat. Posdnuos – Smile a Lil Bit
People Under the Stairs - Time to Rock our Shit
P.U.T.S is pretty well-known now, with tracks like Acid Raindrops and San Fransisco Knights, and even after listening to every album they’ve put out, Time to Rock Our Shit is still my favorite track of theirs. production is flawless on this one
Pep Love - Family and Friends
The Procussions – Miss January
Q (i’m not a fan of quasimoto or q’unique so you guys are on your own for this one)
RA the Rugged Man, J-Live, & Think Differently Music – Give it Up
Wu meets the indie culture!!! crazy, right? that’s what I thought when I heard the ridiculous rhyming on this track. the beat is solid too, but RA’s flow makes this a stand-out.
RA the Rugged Man - Chains
The Roots – Y’all Know Who
Sage Francis – Bridle
i’m not the biggest sage francis fan, but this track gave me goosebumps the first time i heard it. formerly of def jux, francis wised up and dropped that shit. my one complaint about this track is that it’s much too short – he should’ve made it twice as long with a production and flow that gives you goosebumps
Soul Position – Right Place Wrong Time
Sound Providers – The Throwback
Tribe Called Quest – Electric Relaxation http://www.sendspace.com/file/5dyj6n
fucking classic. back before you’d ever heard of Q-tip and Vibrant Thing, he dropped lines like:
“shorty let me tell you about my only vice,
it gots to do with lots of lovin, and it ain’t nothin nice”
(and on a side note, kanye, i got love for you, but wtf? Rhyming about glocks, nines, and cars on a cover of ATCQ? you butchered this shit.)
Tonedeff & Cunninlynguists – The Gates
Tonedeff – Porcelain
Ugly Duckling – Journey to Anywhere
i’m not the biggest fan of ugly duckling either, but this track is dope. mixed with a high-pitched rough beat, the lyrics are funny and interesting as hell
Visionaries – If You Can’t Say Love