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Hip-Hop Sound of the Underground

posted Mar 25, 2011, 10:13 PM by Golden Knight

By Daniel Gong


When people hear the term “underground” music, they generally think of artists who remain in the “underground” because they are not skilled enough to sign to a major label and “make it big.” Although song concepts vary in all directions, generally underground artists create music that expresses who they are and what they believe in, whether it is on social issues, political issues, etc. Though the underground scene is present in all genres of music, I will be focusing on underground hip-hop.

Despite not being mainstream, underground hip hop presents rap music of all moods and styles, from the speedy flow of Tech N9ne to the gritty sound of Vinnie Paz. The underground contains an infinite number of extremely talented rappers, most who will go unknown to the general public. How can such talent be limited to the ears of underground fans?

Artists, such as Lil Wayne and Soulja Boy, are mainstream because they are signed to major labels, which focus on providing music that is popular to the public, hence the term “pop.” However, with immense amounts of money at stake, labels direct artists to create music that is easiest to market. These mainstream artists are played on the radio, and although they reflect but a fraction of hip hop music, many never hear anything else. Many people define hip hop music based on only one of the many aspects of the music.

So why do people stay in the underground? They choose to remain independent to continue making music they love and do not allow money to interfere. This is not to say that artists in the mainstream do not make music they love, but just that some artists choose to continue their music, which does not always follow the trends of the music industry. These trends however affect underground hip hop as well, as some rap may be coined “underground” in different eras.

However, staying in the underground does present many hardships for artists and producers alike. As a member of the underground scene, I have encountered numerous artists who are suffering from financial woes while continuing to create the music they love. I have the utmost respect for these artists who stay true to their styles, despite the many obstacles. As hard as it may be to be financially successful in the underground, many artists have done so. Some of the underground’s biggest artists, to name a few, like Tech N9ne, Jurassic 5, Brother Ali, all live very successful lives; both financially and musically. So the next time, try the underground music scene and perhaps you will like something you’ve never heard before.