Sometimes, a guy’s just not that into tunes — sad, but understandable. Sometimes, a guy’s into teenage girl pop and he pretends he’s just not that into tunes. (Look around you. One of your bros is absolutely singing along to Katy Perry in his head right now. [Pretty loudly, actually.])
But every once in a while, you and one of your dudes like to be men of taste and class. And while mix tapes from high school, commercial radio, and the Wayne’s World soundtrack are all classic sources of tunes, maybe you need a little kickstart. We could spend years talking about genres here, so today will just be a lesson on some well-known modern rappers and some alternatives you might not have known about. Some are classic forefathers to the better-known artist. Some are the next generation worth keeping an eye on. And some are weirdo deviants who will take you deeper down the rabbit hole (always worth it). Without further ado, here are some artists to up your rap steez.
If you like Twista, try:
The first time you heard Twista, we assume your jaw dropped. You have to assume there are few rap records as coveted as “fastest rapper in the world”, and Twista has held the Guinness World Record for it. But what if…what if you want your raps speedy AND some pancakes at the same time? Well then of course, you turn to Mac Lethal. This video of Lethal goofing around in the kitchen went viral for a pretty obvious reason – that man’s jaw is a f@*&ing set of wind-up chattering teeth. We’ve also heard him do some fine work with Maine rapper (and Man Cave favorite) Spose on the aptly-titled “I’m Awesome” remix — so at least he’s honest about his skills. He’s also the source for the hilarious Texts from Bennett.
Nicki is well on her way to becoming the most successful female rapper in history. Missy Elliot, Lil’ Kim, and even TLC (R.I.P. Left Eye) have been surpassed by her bizarre, bold, and anything but demure style. But Minaj isn’t the only one turning the tables on the rap game and demanding to be on top — may we introduce you to Azealia Banks. Turning heads — sometimes in double-take — at her explicit lyrics for “212“, Banks has continued to gain fame and stay provocative through her music, rather than publicity stunts — perhaps her most shocking move of all in this day and age. Check out the gorgeous western-tinged “Liquorice” for some unabashed sexuality and skill, both brazenly on display.
If you like Lil’ Wayne, try:
One says he thinks he’s from Mars, one rapped a whole album about it. Wayne is a madman on the mic, and has probably produced enough tape that you could reach another planet — but underneath the wild wordplay, he’s still mostly rapping about getting drunk and partying. Del The Funkee Homosapien, on the other hand, renamed himself Deltron Zero, and claimed he’d “clap your ear with Soulsonic Mantronik phonics/Turn your brain to an omelette/I’ll hold a comet in bondage, with my dominance” with Dan the Automator and Kid Koala as supergroup Deltron 3030. The album of the same name came out in 2000, and the guys next collaborations were in the equally fun Gorillaz project. But the sci-fi future funk of 3030 has not been forgotten — Dogfish Head brewing recently released a cider brew named after the album’s “Positive Contact”, packaged with some bubbly and a record of Deltron 3030 remixes. And a follow-up to the bizarro space-saga has finally been confirmed.
If you like Mac Miller, try:
Let’s head to the midwest, where the twin cities have been hosting one of rap’s best diamonds in the rough for years. Atmosphere’s Slug is an MC with no braggadocio – he’s willing to confess painful loves lost (basically all of the Lucy Ford EP) as well as couplets like
My baby made me some coffee
Afraid that if I drink some it’s probably coming right back out me
Couple of Advil, relax and chill
Had to stand still with how bad I feel
I think I need to smell fresh air
So I stepped out the backdoor and fell down the stairs
show that the man’s not afraid to bare his soul. Luckily, he backs up his heart-on-sleeve approach with some fine cadence, and producer Ant more than holds up his end of the partnership with some solid beats. The Pittsburgh wunderkind is easygoing, babyfaced, and mostly harmless, when all is said and done. He’s not quite to a pop-veneer polish, but you’d be more likely to have him over to dinner with your ma than elect him head of the local cartel. And he’s got a bit of self-awareness too: “Hopefully I’ll be at the top soon/For now I’m at my house on the couch watching cartoons.”
If you like Kanye, try:
Inventive, confessional, and catchy as hell — that’s our Kanye. Well, also megalomaniacal, tweet-crazy, and so big-headed he could fly his own skull like a hot air balloon, but we digress. Kanye’s production skills are beyond his insane persona — but that’s not to say others can’t reach his orbit. Kanye and Jay-Z turned to the much more subdued Frank Ocean for several tracks on their Watch The Throne collaboration. And Ocean’s own Nostalgia, Ultra mixtape has turned a lot of heads for a self-made debut. An unlikely member of the Odd Future collective – (more often crooning in falsetto than trying to offend as often as possible), Ocean makes talented beats, sings as well as he raps, and should only be rising from here on out.
If you liked that list, check out our Female-Fronted Acts You Should Be Listening to. –>