Unlike their mainstream counterparts, underground hip hop is exactly what it sounds like: rappers who haven't quite hit the mainstream, yet retain a strong, devoted following. The best underground rappers are generally independent rappers who are signed either to an indie label or no label at all and whose lyrical matter discusses either social issues, political issues and other types anti-excess subjects. Some of the best underground rappers are also known as conscious rappers and to some, as the forebearers of alternative hip hop. No matter what your definition of underground hip hop is, the best rappers in this genre are widely respected by their peers due to their ability to not give in to external pressures to strike it big, yet are remaining true to their underground rap roots.
So, who are the best underground rappers? When you think of underground hip hop artists, some of the big names (at least by underground rap standards) are Big L, Aesop Rock, Dead Prez, Madlib, El-P, Atmosphere and Blackalicious. These are some of the most respected names in rap music. Many of the best underground rappers are recognized for retaining the original hip hop ethos and message of change, and the top underground artists are critically acclaimed for producing original, refreshing sounds that deviates, yet doesn't encompass popular rap.
That said, it's up to you to determine who are the best underground rappers. If you think someone is missing from this list of underground hip hop artists, feel free to add them. This list answers the questions "who are the best underground hip hop bands of all time?" and "who is the greatest underground hip hop musician ever?" If you know enough about the genre, please vote based on the quality of the band's music instead of just voting for the most popular underground hip hop bands that you might've heard of.