I will talk about the players, how rap has evolved and how to find underground rap if you’re interested.
“Is underground rap real? Do underground rap artists actually exist?”
It’s a question I hear a lot. But for all the negativity that has surrounded rap for a long time, rap, to be honest, has its own kind of underground.
Before I answer this question, let’s define underground.
Artists who want to express themselves artistically without label or power and in the face of a lot of negative media – the kind of media that often begins with the question: “Is it true or not true?”
Artists who have no desire to be accepted by the mainstream.
This means to me: No excessive members of the music industry.
For example, rappers in independent record labels. Artists have a way of saying what is on their mind, but not being content with simply being liked or being part of the mainstream.
Artists who either don’t like mainstream media (and in some cases, musicians that can’t afford to be in it). And in some cases, artists are against the mainstream media.
This might be a broad definition, but if you break it down, it becomes quite clear. However, I’ve found that some fans don’t know what it means.
Or when I try to explain, I’m met with a blank stare. The definition of “underground” is vague.
So let’s get into that definition and the relevance of underground music to today’s rap scene.
First of all, “Underground” as defined by dictionary.com means:
- in disregard of convention
- far or at a distance from a center of importance or activity: subversive movement
- hidden or hidden from view
- within or without what is known, accepted, customary, or desirable
- referring to something especially so, corrupt, wicked, depraved, scandalous, scandalous behavior, or affairs: particularly venial
So why is it important to this music? I recently re-watched the documentary, “How To Rap”, and it was eye-opening.
Why do artists do what they do? Why do they think the way they think?
Because they don’t give a fuck, that’s why. They are either cocky and proud of it, or they are insecure and try to drown their sorrows in music.
They are so interested in their craft that they are willing to live an alternative lifestyle to perfect it.
They are fed up with being controlled. Artists, sometimes, or better yet, simple people, have a full-time job.
Rappers have to be creative
They have to make a living. They have to support themselves and their families.
And they are being scorned for it.
See, in “How To Rap”, one of the creators of the “Underground” definition of “rapping” was Louis Farrakhan, the “spiritual leader” of the Nation of Islam.
As a producer, he is credited for producing classic rap records such as Eric B. & Rakim’s “Eric B. Is President”, Public Enemy’s “Fight The Power”, and KRS-One’s “Paid In Full”.
As an artist, he is even known as the man who inspired Tupac to rap.
This man is constantly referred to as a “nerd” and a “jazz, rock, and blues player.”
But he has been at the forefront of the music business, from when music first became popular, and he still is.
He was a writer, editor, and author of several books.
He was one of the first black men to obtain a Ph.D. in American history, and also founded the Black International Political Alliance.
One of his recent positions was as an advisor to the Democratic presidential campaign of Senator Barack Obama.
One of the most brilliant artists in music, in history. Yet, he’s not famous because of his accomplishments and opinions.
He’s famous because of the “jokes” he tells humorously and appropriately. He is famous for being powerful.
He doesn’t want to be. So that’s why he’s underground.
If you really think about it, the rest of rap is about being rebellious against the system
The people who do appreciate rap know that.
- Some people don’t, and that’s why we hear about rappers who get addicted to drugs.
- Some people don’t, and that’s why we hear about rappers who get pregnant.
- Some people don’t, and that’s why we hear about rappers being caught in prostitution.
- Some people don’t, and that’s why we hear about rappers having sex with a co-worker.
- Some people don’t, and that’s why we hear about rappers cheating on their wives.
- Some people don’t, and that’s why we hear about rappers being arrested for selling drugs.
- Some people don’t, and that’s why we hear about rappers getting robbed.
- Some people don’t, and that’s why we hear about rappers getting shot and killed.
For a nation that focuses on the number of black men that are dead in the inner city, we sure are obsessed with rappers dying.
Rap is not just about dancing and partying. In fact, that is the main reason why we feel as though it has no redeeming value.
But no matter what, rap is a way of communicating and being expressive with no filter.
And that is what rap is.