For every genre of mainstream music, there will always be a category that goes underground and skips the conventional charts.
We at Pie Radio celebrate the sounds of the underground, and are always out to promote alternative hip hop sounds from across the globe.
We’ve therefore come up with a list of 5 alternative hip hop artists from the other side of the Atlantic that you NEED to give a listen (both old and new)
Before revealing, it’s important to clear up what is meant by alternative hip hop (without coming across all wiki entry style). My take on alternative hip hop is music that isn’t mainstream and/or interpolates other music genres like jazz. Some of these artists have crossed over to the mainstream but their sound is distinctly alternative to the mainstream.
5. MF DOOM
A talent we tragically lost last year. Although born in the U.K., MF DOOM moved to the USA when he was very young and forged an unforgettable career as a master lyricist until his death. I love his King Geedorah stuff, but in the meantime, this absolute classic always get blasted when I sense a snitch nearby.
4. Channel Tres
Although he hails from Compton, the music of Channel Tres is so far removed to the hip hop sounds of NWA and Kendrick Lamar. His nods to Chicago House music of the 70s mixed with his lyrical flow make him a suitable entry on this list.
3. Denzel Curry
My boy, my man. I think Denzel is one of the best MCs to come out of Florida, and of this decade IMO. He has a flow that’s not been heard in a long time, and he isn’t afraid to take on the challenge of drawing his inspiration from all genres of music to give him the edge of being more than a trap artist. This RATM cover shows just what he is capable of.
2. Black Sheep
Although their fellow native tongues collective artists such as A Tribe Called Quest and De La Soul were much more successful, Black Sheep, as the name suggests, were the real underdogs of this alternative hip hop collective in the late 80s/ early 90s. You will however, have heard their stuff before, and their Afrocentric, jazzy sounds just show why they were central to the collective. FYI this is technically the “revisited” version
A queen who crossed over to the mainstream. Lizzo is a super talented rapper who draws from a variety of genres, as well as throwing in the fact she’s a florist, makes her worthy of this small list.
Although some of these names might seem like ancient history, some are relatively new, and I have a feeling that the older school of alternative hip hop will become popular again.
Let us know who are your favourite alternative hip hop artists from the US – who should we be listening to? Tell us @pieradiouk