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The 100 Greatest Underground Hip Hop Songs of the Last 15 Years

by Sean Gunn

If you want to know the criteria I use to determine whether or not a track should be considered “underground”, I’ll be writing a post soon that will go into more detail. For now, check this out:

100.  Digest the Hardcore Onry Ozzborn
99.   Leanni Lea Penuckle

98.   Macro/Micro Mayday
97.   Sirens Panacea
96.   Black Royalty Bronze Nazareth
95.   Severed Organs Circle of Tyrants
94.   Barcode Verbal Kent

93.   Walking Away Brother Ali

92.   Positive Contact Deltron 3030
91.   Evil Shit Necro
90.   Antemeridian  Count Bass D
89.   Matt and Nate Grand Buffet
88.   Hourglass Cunninlynguists
87.   Full Time B-Boy Foreign Legion
86.   No Snakes Alive MF Doom & MF Grimm
85.   Skwad Training Artifacts
84.   Let Me Watch Viktor Vaughn (f. Apani B.)
83.   1000 Deaths Aesop Rock
82.   No One Loves Me  Moka Only
81.   Freestyle Rhymes Chino XL
80.   Latyrx Latyrx
79.   Heavy Ceiling Deep Puddle Dynamics
78.   Just a Feelin’ Majik Most (f. Celph Titled)
77.   Nothing Without You Pigeon John

76.   Jane Fonda Mickey Avalon

75.   Inherited Scars Sage Francis

74.   Murs Day Murs & 9th Wonder
73.   Where’s Brooklyn Ac? Block McCloud (f. Mr. Met, Pumpkinhead, War Bixby)
72.   Open the Mic Odd Couple (f. Celph Titled, Jay Love, J-Zone)
71.   Weededed Lootpack
70.   Clear Blue Skies Juggaknots
69.   Come One Come All Zeph & Azeem
68.   Prince Charming Brother Ali

67.   Say Hey There (Gotta Go to Mexico) Atmosphere
66.   Easy Cause It Is Typical Cats
65.   Slums Reavers
64.   Fumbling Over Words That Rhyme Edan

63.   I Wanna Go Home Prozack Turner
62.   Morning After Pill Louis Logic & J.J. Brown

61.   And So Boot Camp Clik
60.   The Nine Psalm One
59.   Straight Flowin’ on ‘Em Motion Man
58.   Lost Cool Calm Pete

57.   The Woman With the Tattooed Hands Atmosphere
56.   Neo-Tokyo MC Esoteric (f. Eddie Meeks, Main Flow)
55.   Holdin a Jar 2 Cage
54.   Uprock Diverse
53.   Snake Bite Myka 9
52.   Claxx on the Traxx Slaine
51.   Can’t Save Typical Cats

50.   Live From the Plantation (live) Mr. Lif
49.   Vomitspit MF Doom
48.   Primo’s Four Course Meal Celph Titled
47.   Take the Edge Off Adverse
46.   Scars and Memories MF Grimm

45.   Blood In Blood Out Jedi Mind Tricks

44.   Rhymes Like Dimes MF Doom
43.   Partnas Confused Masters of Illusion
42.   High Tithe Qwel & Meaty Ogre
41.   There She Goes John Robinson
40.   9-5ers Anthem Aesop Rock
39.   Fazers King Geedorah
38.   Interlude Cocktail Freestyle Mekalek (f. Cool Calm Pete)
37.   Great Day Today Madvillain
36.   StuftStarvn Nathan Nice
35.   A.C.W.A.L.L. Babbletron
34.   Citrus District Myka Nyne
33.   Perfect Person 7L & Esoteric
32.   Turntable Science DJ Skully (f. Celph Titled)

31.   Forest Whitiker Brother Ali
30.   Primitive Plus Edan
29.   Rule by a Fool Louis Logic & J.J. Brown
28.   Firstwordsworse C-Rayz Walz (f. El-P)
27.   Catalogue Mudkids
26.   Real Eyes Quasimoto
25.   3000 Dr. Octagon

24.   Doomsday MF Doom

23.   Dead in Motion Antipop Consortium
22.   Straight Off the D.I.C. Cannibal Ox
21.   Beatslope (El-P Remix) Hangar 18

20.   A Sad Day for Investors Sole
19.   Old Paul MC Paul Barman
18.   Battle Me C-Razy Walz
17.   Bad Touch Example Company Flow
16.   Apt. A, Pt. 2 cLOUDDEAD
15. Raindance Josh Martinez & DJ Moves                              
14. Decapitation Free Micranots
13.   Somersault DangerDoom
12.   I’m Gonna Kill You Juggaknots
11.   [untitled track] Buck 65
10.   Promised Land Edan

9.   De La Souls P.O.S.
8.   The Movement [4AM Remix] DJ Zeph (f. Azeem)
7.   Honest Expression Binary Star
6.   Lefty’s Lament Busdriver
5.   Another Tomorrow Metropolis Now
4.   Krazy World King Geedorah (f. Gigan)
3.   Reinventing the Wheel Typical Cats
2.   Uphill Climb Josh Martinez

1.    Daylight Aesop Rock

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Category: LISTS, Sean Gunn, Uncategorized

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  • Tyler Hulings


  • effyurfaglistsucks

    hipster white boy list..makes me want to vomit!

  • check it

    Can’t believe you had binary star honest expression but not reality check. Now that shit is life changing

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  • SUhaterstrycontructiveopinions

    super list! dont listen to all ppl saying ‘only 1 jmt, no immortal…” its wouldn’t be the underground list it is with these artists and for those who still think jmt or immortal are still underground get of the moone, cant get more mainstream/commercial underground then immortal technique. I mean is dance with the devil underground if 20 million ppl know it???? NO!!!! and to ripcurl get your ears cleaned out bro, or dont comment if its only to break down an opinionated list, yeah sure necro isn’t in it, n ill bill is missing, rob sonic, the list goes on, but is 100 songs not enough to begin with? So yeah SHUT UP or post a link to your list that is so much better and didnt forget no one..

    and to jamesgunn thx again, found some tunes i overlooked previoulsy!

  • manny f

    No Immortal Technique…come on.

    • SUhaterstrycontructiveopinions

      immortal technique is only underground if u lived on the moon the past 5 years… this has to be a joke son, get yourself together

  • Timothy Elsewon Johnson

    You made this in 2009, so it goe’s back to 94, correct? No hate, but you missin a TON of bangers and some of the greatest hip hop tracks ever made. Juggaknots-Clear Blue Skies is a given, but it should be top 10 IMO.. Also, Mf Lif-Brothaz, Original Flavor-Can I Get Open (if that counts as “underground), Necro-I Need Drugs and Underground, Non Phixion-Say Goodbye to Yesterday and Black Helicopters, JMT/RA-Uncommon Valor, C Ray Walz-Blackout, Ill Bill-How to Kill a Cop, etc. etc. If you gonna include De La Soul, then Stakes is High, Rock Co Kane Flow and Itsoweezee were all dope. And if you include them, then Pharcyde could be included, IE-Runnin, Drop and/or She Said. I realize every list is gonna have complaints, maybe make it only one track per artist?

    • SUhaterstrycontructiveopinions

      3 of these songs have been on radio + more then 250000 views, your argument is invalid sir, and dude if u mention non phixion mention futurama.. JMT/DELASOUL ARE NOT UNDERGROUND lol

      • Timothy Elsewon Johnson

        You’re not too bright huh? I didn’t say De La was underground, I said IF YOU’RE GOING TO INCLUDE THEM (read the list, #9). And JMT is #45. Next time have some actual ammo before you open you mouth.

  • skam1

    looptroop, promoe , the litarates ,lowkey? you have a few good tunes but the majorety of them are a joke lol

  • Ripcurl85331

    Did your deaf brother help you with this list….?

    • SUhaterstrycontructiveopinions

      did ur mom not teach u manners and u should only give opinions in a constructive way? Or u just breaking down this list for the fun of it? If ur so good give me your list/blog or just su and dont comment underdeveloped piece of trash

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  • SeanGunn

    Autonomy: All the stuff you mentioned is great. I have to stick by my choices, though–do you know the Buck 65 track? It’s on an Anticon compilation, not one of his LP’s. I probably prefer God Loves Ugly slightly to Overcast, but I agree it’s Atmosphere’s next best and Sound is Vibration in particularly should maybe be on there… I have a few El-P tracks on there as producer, but as an MC I haven’t quite gotten into him so much.

    Bill Pardys I love JMT, and I agree Uncommon Valor is a great track, but maybe a bit too much of a polemic for my tastes. I would have included Get This Low from Psycho-Social, but that track is actually over 15 years old! I Against I, Trinity, Animal Rap, What’s Really Good, Shadow Business, Put Em in a Grave, etc. would all be worthy additions.

    Dannzilla, sheesh, I could only put so much Atmosphere and Aesop on the list. My next few choices from each would have been Sound is Vibration, Hockey Hair, Sunshine, One of a Kind from Atmosphere, and Big Bang, Rickety Rackety, Coward of the Year from Aesop. There’s so many…

  • this is a pretty good list. would’ve liked to see more tracks by Aesop Rock, Atmosphere, and Sage Francis, but whatevs. I’m also very surprised by the exclusion of any EL-P, the Coup, and I mean c’mon, no MC Chris?! seriously, the dude’s got the voice of a 12 yr old and has songs about Star Wars, nerd girls, and being white n chubby, he’s amazing!

  • This stuff is all 100% new to me. (Forgive me coolness for I have sinned). I threw on a bunch of tracks as I got shit done today and have pretty much loved them all. So thanks. It’s fairly f-ing spiffy to get a list like this. And, yeah: “Forest Whitaker” is bizarre and excellent in the extreme.

  • Bill Pardys Doppelganger

    Only one Jedi Mind Tricks song? That’s kinda disappointing to see, I actually think “Uncommon Valor: A Vietnam Story” with R.A. the Rugged Man is probably one of their best.

    I can’t disagree with the Aesop Rock and MF Doom choices at all.

  • Autonomy

    Pretty damn solid list, but I’m a little surprised by your choices for Buck 65, Cage, P.O.S, and Atmosphere. I may be alone here, but I think Buck 65’s best song is “The Centaur”, Cage’s “Agent Orange”, P.O.S’s “Music For Shoplifting” and (I think, anyway) Atmosphere’s best stuff is all off of their debut album “Overcast”.

    Also surprised by the amount of Brother Ali, and especially by the lack of El-P!

    Overall though, good list to read. I’ll have to check some of these I don’t know about out.

  • That Antipop Consortium track is wicked, and Grand Buffet is one of my favourite groups, so I’m stoked to see them on there. Will definitely be checking out more of this, thanks.

    • SUhaterstrycontructiveopinions

      check out pingpong from antipop, even pink floyd is jealous of that instru

  • opsin

    Oh (I suck at remembering everything…), For Hero: For Fool was probably my favourite, though also the first one I heard, but I think now the ones I listen to most by Subtle are Yell & Ice (the remixes of For Hero…) and A New White (Red, White and Blonde might be the track I’d put on my list).

    There was a mix tape I have around, related to Jesse Dangerously, which i finally remembered the name of – Backburner – What Have You Done for Rap Lately? – which has some really interesting stuff on it. And otherwise most of what I have around is a little more mainstream – the Patton/Dan the Automator stuffs like Handsome Boy Modelling School and Deltron 3030 (and Dr. Octagon slightly relatedly).
    Just to keep you busy!

  • opsin

    “I’m gonna do some research now, thanks…”

    No prob, man. Your list has given me more than enough things to trawl through and look at. I’m something of a musicophile, and haven’t had enough new additions of late (and hip hop is probly the thing I do worst at discovering new artists in).

    So this time, now I’m not thinking about the coupla things I listen to loads that weren’t there… Great list, cheers!

  • I guess they have a legit video here.


  • What? No mention of Two Hyped Brothers and a Dog!?


  • SeanGunn

    opsin, I always welcome a heads-up. Yes, I consider Subtle hiphop, but the only album I know well is “For Hero: For Fool” and it’s not totally my cup of tea although I appreciate it. I actually don’t know Jesse Dangerously, and I’m not as familiar with Saul Williams as I should be. I can tend to be a little behind in discovering, although I usually get there. I’m gonna do some research now, thanks…

  • I fucking love this list. Some of my picks off it – 91. Evil Shit by Necro, ALL the Atmosphere tracks, 31 Forest Whitaker by Brother Ali, 62 Morning After Pill by Louis Logic (I adore that tune), 19. Old Paul by MC Paul Barman (although I’ve overplayed it), and my favorite hip hop song ever, 5. Another Tomorrow by Metropolis Now (featuring Nolto, a dude whose shit I really love). But, I swear to God, I love almost every single track on this list and think it’s great for people whose experience of hip hop is limited to Jay Z, Eminem, Public Enemy, etc (not that I don’t love some of that stuff too).

  • opsin

    Ahem, that said, I see you did get some cLOUDDEAD on there! Nice.

  • opsin

    Pretty tempted to agree with Daylight as the top pick. Reminded me to go listen to Labor Days posthaste.

    Definitely missed having Saul Williams on the list though – possibly Tao of Now off of Amethyst Rock Star would be a top ten pick.

    Oh, I’d be tempted to add in Trouble Brewing off of Jesse Dangerously’s album, damn good track. And if you can call Subtle hiphop, most of their catalogue makes it into my top ten!

  • Nice to have you on board, Sean. I’ll definately check some of these out.