The Best Underground Rappers

Over 25.6K Ranker voters have come together to rank this list of The Best Underground Rappers
Voting Rules
Rank the rappers based on who should be considered the king of the underground, or at least has a cult audience among rap and music fans.

The best underground rappers, which includes a lot of underrated rappers within the underground rap scene. A lot of these rappers kill it at free styling and aren't really concerned with the mainstream scene, which the radio focuses on. If you haven't heard of any of these underground hip hop artists make sure to take a listen and at least give them a chance. In addition, this list is vote ranked, which means the Ranker user gets to determine who is 'the best underground rapper.'

Who are the top underground rappers? Use this underground rappers list to learn about indie hip hop artists and expand your knowledge of underground rap. If you feel that there are some artists not on this list, let me know and I will add them if they qualify for the list.

Most divisive: 7L & Esoteric
Ranked by
  • MF Doom
    8,612 votes

    Beginning his career under the moniker Zev Love X, MF Doom is known for his meticulously crafted lyrics, eclectic beats, and iconic mask inspired by comic book villain Doctor Doom. His works such as the conceptual album Mm...Food and the collaborative project Madvillainy with producer Madlib showcase his masterful storytelling and distinctive rhyme schemes. With a history of aliases and an affinity for sampling, MF Doom has left an undeniable mark on the underground rap scene and hip-hop culture as a whole.

  • Mos Def
    4,621 votes

    Better known today as Yasiin Bey, Mos Def garnered critical acclaim in the late 90s for his deft lyricism, intelligent social commentary, and charismatic stage presence. His debut album Black on Both Sides highlighted his poetic approach to storytelling and talent for sharp wordplay. An activist as well as a musician, Mos Def continues to challenge societal norms and promote equality through his thought-provoking verses and beats.

  • Big L
    5,625 votes

    Hailing from Harlem, Big L was a skilled wordsmith known for his witty punchlines and intricate rhyme patterns. Tragically murdered in 1999, Big L's legacy lives on through his two albums – Lifestylez ov da Poor & Dangerous and posthumous release The Big Picture. With an influence that can still be heard in today's hip-hop, Big L's distinctive flow and unapologetic honesty remain a testament to his talent as one of the all-time great underground emcees.

  • Immortal Technique

    Peruvian-born rapper Immortal Technique has built a reputation for his fiercely political lyricism, focusing on issues such as class struggle, poverty, and corruption. With a discography that includes powerful tracks like "Dance with the Devil" and "Revolutionary Vol. 2," Immortal Technique has garnered a loyal following attracted to his uncompromising stance on social justice and resistance against oppression. His commanding voice, expert delivery, and relentless pursuit of truth have solidified him as a force in the underground rap world.

  • KRS-One
    2,662 votes

    Often referred to as the "Teacha," KRS-One is a pioneer of conscious hip-hop who has consistently delivered profound messages through his thought-provoking lyrics since the 80s. As a founding member of the influential group Boogie Down Productions, KRS-One contributed to revolutionary works like the seminal album Criminal Minded. To this day, KRS-One continues to release music imbued with knowledge, wisdom, and a true passion for hip-hop culture.

  • Gang Starr
    3,519 votes

    Comprised of the legendary DJ Premier and the late Guru, Gang Starr is synonymous with the golden era of underground hip-hop. Their unique blend of jazz-infused beats and streetwise lyricism resulted in timeless classics such as Mass Appeal and Moment of Truth. Gang Starr's influence on subsequent generations of rappers and producers is immeasurable, as they continue to be celebrated for their innovative contributions to the genre.