In the era of gimmick YouTube rappers taking the mick out of the golden genre, some rappers unfortunately get mixed up in the internet muddle. Some actually, quite talented rappers.
I’m not talking Tyler’s alter ego Young Nigga, or the incomprehensible Ice JJ Fish, but genuine, under-appreciated, hard rappers. Be them gimmicky or not, here they are.
This name might stir up some controversy on this list, arguably one of the more polarising figures in rap, you either love him or you hate him. Since he really blew up with Ginseng Strip 2002 he’s been an internet sensation, being the source of memes and gifs galore. Take away all that and you do have a really talented and abstract rapper, one who distinguishes himself from the rest of the game and does so in an inventive way. With his monotone delivery and seemingly uninspired flow, he brings some lyrics that are surprisingly really good. Being a rapper from the internet era, he’s really incorporated this into his persona, and especially his videos. Seen in the Hurt video, the productions of his videos are quite ‘out there’ and he also seems to have an obsession with AriZona. Despite all the irregularities and unusual factors of Yung Lean, he is a really good rapper.
One of the most gimmicky rappers – arguably of all time – RiFF RAFF has an undeniable charisma and a voice more recognisable than pretty much any rapper. Starting out as a reality star on G’s to Gents he was ridiculed for his ‘wannabe black persona’ and after pursued his music career. I can only vouch for his recent stuff being infectiously good, mainly his album Neon Icon. In my opinion he did quite a lot right with that album, and it turned out to be the opinion of others too, as TiP TOE WiNG iN MY JAWWDiNZ was a viral hit and he garnered a lot more mainstream attention than before. If you doubt his ability to go bar for bar with other rappers then looks at his collabs with Action Bronson and Gambino in which he arguably has better verses than both. RiFF RAFF isn’t one to be laughed at anymore.
A lot can be said about Gucci Mane, a straight up gangster and all round certified g, he continues to make and release music from prison to everybody’s bewilderment. He’s honestly a once in a lifetime artist, his larger than life personality and don’t give a fuck attitude is what has got him such a solid fanbase and why he continues to make music. Good music at that. Okay, so maybe it’s not all good but he does have a very good back collection of songs, mixtapes and albums that prove he’s not just a gangster making music. Since his first real hit So Icey with now foe Young Jeezy, Gucci has captivated millions worldwide and caught an internet fandom. He also rapped over the famous Odd Future Orange Juice beat before OF did it. Rappers all over the world love him too, shouting him out in songs and in Vince Staples case, responding to a heckler who doesn’t appreciate him. #FreeGucciMane
Waka Flocka Flame
Gucci’s former affiliate turned foe turned affiliate Waka Flocka Flame is another rapper that divides opinion. Whilst his new stuff isn’t amazing, his old trap music was some of the best around. He’s gone a lot more mainstream now than before, but that isn’t to say he can’t still go hard. Still delivering heavy bars and hard punchlines blended with his extravagant style, Waka’s never going to go unnoticed on a track. Dabbling in a range of music from trap to hip hop to dubstep to grime, he’s as versatile as they come. He excels in whatever genre he chooses to go into as well. Due to his shouty and loud delivery, many people who aren’t aware of his genuine talent just form their perceptions of him as a joke rapper, but he is much, much more than that.
Pouya is probably the rapper on this list that looks least like a rapper. Bursting onto the scene properly with Get Buck he seemed to have people ridicule him and not take him seriously, due to him being white, not looking like your average rapper and rapping about some pretty extreme stuff. He is a dope rapper though, a skippy flow and an ear for beats has put him up there with the best new school underground rappers and it might be a matter of time before he blows up big time. His project South Side Slugs is one of the better mixtapes of 2015 and he doesn’t seem to be slowing down anytime soon. Be sure to be on the look out for him in the coming months.
words by Rohan Parmar