10 Most Underrated Rappers

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#10. Immortal Technique

2012 Rock The Bells Festival Press Conference And Fan Appreciation Party
Mike Lawrie/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

Few rappers are as skilled as Immortal Technique. The Peruvian-born, New York-bred MC uses his voice and platform to advocate for social justice and political activism, and he's being doing this since he debuted in 2001. Like Chuck D before him, Technique somehow manages to express complex thoughts in song without getting in the way of his message. His cries for hip-hop to rise above mediocrity is sometimes met with resentment, but Tech isn't one to change his message in order to suit popular consensus. Check out The 3rd World for a sampling of Immortal Technique's brilliance.

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#9. Beanie Sigel

Beanie Sigel
Beanie Sigel. © Def Jam

Beanie Sigel has been bodying beats since the days of "Adrenaline." Sigel's gruff flow and vivid metaphors immediately set him apart from his Roc-a-Fella peers in the 90s and 00s. The Truth, The Reason, The Becoming, and The Solution are all must-listen for hip-hop heads unfamiliar with The Broadstreet Bully. Beans is battle-tested (he went up against Jadakiss in his prime) and a master at the art of storytelling. His status as one of the greatest MCs around was sometimes obscured at the Roc, where Jay-Z held much larger clout.

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#8. Jean Grae


With a stage moniker inspired by a comic book character, Jean Grae is a real life hip-hop superhero. She has several solid albums under her belt, not counting her work with early 90s crew Natural Resource where she rapped under the alias What What. Jean may not be a household name but she's one of the best rappers alive -- male or female.

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#7. Royce da 5' 9

Royce da 5'9" © Koch.

Ryan Montgomery (aka Royce da 5'9") is one of the few rappers who can single-handedly hold down an entire album from start to finish without boring you to tears. Royce teetered on the brink of mainstream exposure during the late 90s when he hooked up with fellow Detroit native Eminem. But after a heated battle with D-12, Nickle Nine threw his crown away and became Em's rival. They've since reconciled -- Em and Royce reunited as Bad Meets Evil, and the latter is now signed to Shady via Slaughterhouse. No greatest MCs list is complete without Royce da 5'9".

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#6. Black Thought

Black Thought
Black Thought. © Okayplayer

Black Thought is a surgeon of emceeing, reaching only for the most incisive effect each line and verse, each metaphor and punchline, can convey, and applying his skill accordingly. If you listen closely you might hear him feeling around his tool box for just the right flow, the right vocal inflection, the right rhyme sequence. He always seems to find it.

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#5. Wise Intelligent


Most people remember the Poor Righteous Teachers, but only a few can tell you anything about the emcees behind PRT's impressive catalog. That oversight is not without justification. Like most hip-hop crews, Poor Righteous Teachers reached loftier heights as a group than they did as soloists. The only exception is Wise Intelligent, who managed to prove that the sum of a group isn't always greater than its individual strengths. Wise has successfully established himself as a standalone MC. Wise with a solid run of solo albums.

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#4. Louis Logic

Louis Logic © myspace.com/louislogic.

Louis Logic isn't nicknamed the Drunken Dragon for nothing. He has a knack for bullying beats into submission, after all. LL's favorite topics are relationship woes and personality chaos. He approaches every song with a unique blend of style and substance that's becoming increasingly rare these days. Despite his stately hallmarks, Logic is still crawling under the fog of the unknown.

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#3. Sean Price

Sean Price © Duck Down.

Sean P refers to himself as "the brokest rapper you know." He's one of the best rappers you should get to know. He's always been one of my faves out of the Boot Camp Clik. Sadly, his name rarely comes up when hip-hop greats are mentioned. 

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#2. Masta Ace

Masta Ace © M3.

A veteran of the game since the late 1980s and a member of the legendary Juice Crew, Masta Ace coined many of the slangs and techniques employed by today’s big names, including Eminem. Ace's wit, wordplay and body of work make him one of the greatest rappers of all time.

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#1. AZ

AZ © Motown.

AZ's verse on Nas' "Life’s A Bi**h" was the only guest contribution on Illmatic. It was also his official demo. He followed that brilliant performance with a slew of street anthems like "Rather Unique," "Sugar Hill," and "The Essence." Despite his smooth flow and consistency, AZ has never reached the mainstream heights of his Firm peers Nas and Foxy Brown. So, to those who only think of the 48th state every time they see the letters "AZ," this one's for you: Go pick up AZ's first three albums and you just might discover a new favorite MC.

Honorable Mention

  • Z-Ro
  • Brother Ali
  • Del the Funky Homosapien
  • Blueprint
  • Murs
  • Apathy
  • Bun B
  • Canibus
  • Trae
  • Big L