Editor’s note: As part of CMN’s ongoing music journalism program, we asked our team of music writers to come up with a list of songs around a theme. They definitely rose to the challenge. You can see all the lists by browsing our music section.
Everyone and their cousin raps.
The sheer volume of homemade mixtapes produced by hip-hop heads, producers, and self-proclaimed rappers since the early ’80s is massive. Even the most dedicated listeners probably couldn’t listen to every single underground hip-hop track within their entire lifetime.
It’s exhausting to try and keep up — it seems there is some lost classic discovered and posted to the Internet every day.
Here are five artists that were massively slept on during their time and certainly deserve some recognition for their incredible works, even if it is a little too late for them to enjoy mainstream success.
1. Fu-Schnickens are the pinnacle of boom bap rap. “Boom Bap” specifically is an onomatopoeia for the sharp bass drum and snare, while the term as a whole is used to characterize the style of rap around the ’90s East Coast hip-hop scene.
Fu-Schnickens took on the spirit of onomatopoeia with their clever alliterations, silly sound effects, and overall rhythmic-as-hell style of rapping.
2. Yo Majesty is the hard-as-fuck lesbian rap duo you didn’t know you needed in your life. This track in particular, “Kryptonite Pussy,” is equal parts TLC and a bad-ass weed dealer who doesn’t have time to deal with scrubs — but is a little less polite about it than TLC.
3. Released in 2000, the lyrics of this Self-Jupiter track are complex. A complete departure from other early ’00s rap. And the production is absolutely fantastic.
4. DJ Screw is arguably the master of the chop n’ screwed style of hip-hop production, yet barely gets any recognition for his laid-back, truly masterful approach. This track stands out not because of its chill beat, but because freestyle rapper Z-Ro literally goes on to freestyle for nearly ten minutes without running out of steam.
5. The lyrics of this melancholy song by East Flatbush Project provide a powerful glimpse into the life cycle of crime in the projects of New York during the late ’90s. It challenges the glorification of violence often seen in rap, especially from that era. The track describes the harrowing side of gang violence that doesn’t often come into focus.
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