Underground Hip-Hop Essentials

Underground Hip-Hop Essentials

As hip-hop became a chart-dominating, commercially viable cultural behemoth in the '90s, superfans made sure it never strayed from its tenets: lyrical agility, funky beats, and a dogged passion that didn't need a major label to thrive. Independent labels like Rhymesayers, Rawkus, Duck Down, Definitive Jux, and Stones Throw grew through college radio, indie record stores, van tours, and the early internet. Time and streaming would dissolve the divide between "mainstream" and "underground," but contemporary formalists like Run the Jewels, Griselda, and the Strange Music roster still make bangers for heads old and new.

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