We all know that being an independent rapper is somewhat of an accomplishment in today's music industry, where large record labels use endless funds to promote their latest project. However, unlike the independent messiah Macklemore, not every independent rapper attempts to capitalize on their independent status, some choosing to rely on the strength of their music alone to garner notoriety. Let's explore some popular hip-hop artists you never knew were independent
Tech N9ne is a name emblazoned with respect in the hip-hop world by remaining a standout artist in spite of the tantalizing success offered by large record labels. Tech, in step with the entrepreneurial nature of the independent lifestyle, created his own label Stranger Music. Tech continues to influence the hip-hop world through his inordinate, yet effective, career path showing young artists that success can still be achieved by the individual.
Next up is the ferocious talent of Immortal Technique. Immortal Technique is just as much of an activist as he is an artist, with both his music and career choice embedded with deeper meanings and motivation. He has stated on multiple occasions that the independence he chose for his career allows him to retain control over all aspects of his music, a quality necessary in the emotionally intense atmosphere of his music. I challenge everyone to give Techniques "Dance with the Devil" a close listen, and then to imagine this prodigious rapper ever signing to a major label.
Lil B, also known as The BasedGod, is by far the most eccentric rapper in this list as the self-proclaimed leader of the "Based" movement. Hailing from the Bay Area, Lil B adopts a performance more likened to a motivational speaker than a musician, often opting to spend the majority of his performances preaching rather than rapping. However, his eccentricity should not be a distraction from the musical success this young Californian has achieved. A social media guru, BasedGod has managed to amass millions of views on YouTube and around 900k followers on Twitter, all the while remaining independent and creating his own label, Based World.
The hip-hop duo Atmopshere, comprised of MC Slug and DJ Ant, have long retained notoriety in hip-hop's underground. They have been consistently releasing critically acclaimed records since the early 90s and continue to revel in their battle-centric style and their endless love for hip-hop as an art. Their albums God Loves Ugly and When Life Gives You Lemons, You Paint That Shit Gold are beautifully composed stories garnering immense offers from major labels Sony and Warner Brothers. Atmosphere’s decision to remain independent amongst tantalizing offers speaks to their unwavering passion for hip-hop, undaunted by money-infused hip-hop.
A list of hip-hop’s most notorious independents cannot be completed without the Pittsburgh native Mac Miller. While continually surrounded by the pungent aroma of marijuana, Miller has worked his way to the top. His success has in large been due to his happy-go-lucky party-centric tracks, but Miller's latest album Watching Movies with The Sound Off showed a lyrically profound side to this diverse young artist. Mac is a common and reputable name among hip-hop connoisseurs, but do not mistake his establishment as a product of a label driven project.
By: Ben Slavich