This wasn’t easy. Anytime you find a tape that you think is underrated, you listen to it, and you love it, and suddenly it’s not underrated to you anymore. You have to go find the next buried mixtape. That was what putting this list together was like. Lord knows it was worth it.
Let’s get straight to it. These are the 20 Best Underground Rap Projects of 2013. Some albums, some EPs, some mixtapes. And, yea we hate the “underground” label too, but these projects were released under the radar of most of the average rap fans. Whatever you want to call them, just don’t call them wack. Any link that isn’t provided means that project is on iTunes, Spotify, or Willie The Kid’s website. Now get to clickin’.
Denmark Vessey – Cult Classic
Denmark Vessey is one of many Detroit rappers continuing to put on for their city in 2013, along with Guilty Simpson, Quelle, Black Milk and Danny Brown. Cult Classic is funkier than Motown in the 60’s, produced entirely by Chicago’s Scud One and jumping from church music to dusty soul to the D’s hard-hitting brand of raw rap. Denmark is some sort of hidden national treasure, though he released his first project with Crown Nation pal Quelle back in 2008. Sometimes he sounds like he’s rapping at the dinner table; lessons, jewels. He puts a slight amount of distance between himself and his rhymes, making him even more obtuse. “This is Motherland music”, he spits on “That One Thai Joint”, “one man’s Jesus is another man’s Judas.”
Denmark also joins Kendrick in a small group of rappers who love pronouncing their consonants crisply, and there’s even a beautiful hymn in the middle, “Thank You Based God”. It’s going to take a lot more listening to really let Cult Classic sink in, so this may come off a little blasphemous, but the album is reminiscent of Madvillainy in a meandering, free jazz kind of way. We need more albums like this one.
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