You'd be forgiven for thinking that 2013 has been whatever the opposite of a 'vintage year' is for hip-hop, but there are plenty of rappers still flying the flag for stuff that doesn't suck.
Fuck Drake's new album right off, stick on your headphones and check out these ten rappers who are still releasing awesome music without you actually noticing...
While I've yet to find certified proof of his status as an ordained member of the Christian clergy, New York native Bishop Nehru definitely stakes a claim to a place in the top five East Coast MCs at the moment. Debut mixtape 'Nehruvia' was well received but new record 'Strictly Flowz' rivals Joey Bada$$ when it comes to dope rhymes over throwback boom-bap. While Nehru might suffer from a voice a little too similar to the Pro Era front-man, he's an undoubtably fantastic talent by anyone's estimation: boasting a brilliant choice in producers and a flow years ahead of his sixteen years of age.
Skittering trap drums bely a sly intelligence from German-born, Thailand-raised, LA-resident Gibson. Thumping bass, a left-field penchant for anime, Dipset and a voice barely a shaved-octave below Danny Brown typify Azizi's out-put this far and reportedly signed by hipster-producer demi-god Flying Lotus after bumping into him in the gym, he's benefited from a relationship with shit hot beatmakers like Jeremiah Jae ever since. Fair play to him, he's handled them well.
Sometimes it's not about thoughtful, conscious rhymes. Sometimes it's just about rapping about shit on a fucking monster beat with a bassline thicker than two day's worth of Post Bad Bitch's Twitter feed. Chicago-native Calez's production comes from such stellar names as Clams Casino and the hotly-tipped Herk Twist and his latest release, 'Too Broke Mixtape', was a minor underground hit last Spring.
Signed to cult indie hip-hop label Funk Volume, Vegas-native Dizzy has quietly released six mixtapes in the past four years as well as his first studio LP, SmokeOut Conversations, which also sadly sunk without much of a trace. Cultivating a small but feverent following (thanks to collaborations like the above with indie-rap stalwart Joey Bada$$ and a spot on the coveted XXL magazine's 'Freshman' list), Wright's name-checks to Bob Marley and Biggie might jar but his easy going flow and subtle charisma will be sure to win over a few more fans by the time his next criminally slept-on album comes and goes.
A lesser-known member of the inescapable ASAP Mob's extended family, a web which seems to have spun its way across both coasts, Grandmilly has an understated delivery punctuated by a double-time phrasing that pokes its head out every few lines that keeps you on edge throughout his tremendously produced output. More influenced by old school Dirty South rap than many of his peers, his sound has shades of Three Six Mafia only, you know, without the Academy award.
Darker than a puddle of Guinness, Maul makes Odd Future's Tyler sound like a bratty teen who listened to one too many Gravediggaz (not far from the truth, anyway). Last year's 'Oxyconteen' mixtape had Pitchfork frothing at the teat and newest track Lobo features a similarly dark sonic landscape and subject matter. Barely sixteen years old, Bajan Brooklynite Haleek will only go from strength-to-strength so best to get in there quick, rap hipsters.
Releasing a track like 'Money Over Bitches' must be a pain for Nike Nando. He must know that if a rapper like Drake (eurgh) came out with a track like that (stuttering hi-hats, deep bass, tight female vocal sample) that people would lose their shit. As it stands, Nando will have to make do with his sub-400 followers on Soundcloud and the knowledge that he's got more skill than ten Canadian rapper-actors. The track featured on the tremendously titled 'Fear The Turtle' EP and, well, that's about all we know about him. Keep an eye out.
Yet another Pro Era affiliate, Caution sounds a bit like a less-Ghostface-y and haute cuisine obsessed Action Bronson and is easily the best of the rest in Joey's crew. Stealing the show on 'Summer Knight's 47 Goons and what he makes up for in not being able to spell 'Nick' properly, he more than makes up for in sheer charisma and talent.
Yet another ludicrously talented teenager with no respect for how normal names are spelt, Snow might sound like he's making tracks in a Maryland bedroom but he's actually from Dublin and his passable-but-still-illegitimte accent does little to ruin his output. He's like the Jimmy McNulty of lo-fi hip-hop. Favouring jazzy samples with a fuzzy drum beat, he's another who manages to out-Tyler Tyler, The Creator. (Man, that guy is really taking a kicking in this article, eh?)
Pitched as a cocktail of Chance The Rapper and Joey Bada$$, 20-year-old Brooklyn native is more forward-thinking than his throwback-rap fashion and references. Head-nod inducing boom-bap is present, yes, but 'State Of Elevation's chorus lifts it above the run-of-the-mill Nas-clone. With that said, Cooper completely kills the beat to Mobb Deep's classic Survival Of The Fittest on his ace mixtape 'Cozmik' proving that, fuck it, if he wanted to, he could kill that throwback shit too.