20 Alternative Hip-Hop Artists Who Are Making Things Interesting


If you used the term "alternative hip-hop" in past decades, you were speaking of something completely different than what we've got in 2014. In a post-Yeezus world, alternative sounds in hip-hop are becoming the norm, and outliers in modern rap are branching out further and further from the traditional boom-bap of the '80s and the gritty styles of the '90s.

There is no real underground scene anymore—the internet has united us all and strangely, some of the most cohesive scenes exist only on the web. But that hasn't stopped the prosperity of weirdness. From outsider veterans who are finally getting their props to teenage artists who never followed traditions, here are some of the best and most interesting artists who make alternative and experimental hip-hop.

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  • andy

    What anout Flatbush Zombies?

  • Frank Rodriguez

    Where’s Earl Weatshirt?

  • Anonymous

    He’s grouped in with Odd Future and the rest of their garbage

  • elia

    Yeah no Flatbush Zombies but corny ass Tech N9ne? This list loses all credibility

  • Chris Woodard

    Nice list, just listened to Lucki Eck$ and that “Alternative Trap” project is awesome. Idk if they’re really considered alternative hip hop or not, but I would’ve included GoldLink and of course, Childish Gambino.

  • Luke Henebry

    100% male. what

  • Confusion

    Yeah, we knew people would have a problem with the word “alternative” but we just mean alternative to the traditional, with ’80s, ’90s, and early 2000s style being the traditional.

    There are a lot more that could have been included for sure, but these are just some that we wanted to highlight.

  • Confusion

    Tech N9ne is important because he kinda laid out a blueprint of how to be extremely successful without having to sell records. He can be as weird as he wants and never has to have a radio hit and proven that there’s a sustainable business model for that.

    What are some more out-there/experimental/alternative Flatbush Zombies songs? I’m not that into them but always kinda grouped them with A$AP Mob style. Nothing wrong with that, but I don’t think it’s really all that “alternative” compared to a lot of stuff out there.

    That being said, a lot of this is going to come down to opinion.

  • Confusion

    Didn’t even think about that. What female rappers would you consider alternative or experimental? Honestly just can’t really think of any. I like Nicki, Angel Haze, Dreezy, Rapsody, but wouldn’t consider any of them alternative. Azealia and Jean Grae maybe.

  • http://twitter.com/garrettravis garret travis

    you mentioned madlib in passing but didn’t include him on the list? seems kind of absurd..still, some cool stuff here.

  • Mike Free

    Salomon Faye?

  • CUDfam

    WHAT ABOUT KID CUDI!?!?!?!?!?!??!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!

  • Enis

    What about the “queer” rap scene? (Mykki Blanco, Le1f, Zebra Katz, Cakes Da Killa etc.) . They’re seriously changing the game right now. Can’t take this list seriously when none of them is mentioned.

  • Mark L’homme Bwoi Mos

    I’m usually critical of this site, but as a hip hop fan I found some gems in this list and that is the point of even following a site like this for me. Came away a bigger fan of B L A C K I E and bumping this Cities Aviv hard.

  • Blerg

    Music is not a businesss. He is not making things interesting, and he is not as alternative as he claims he is.

  • Marcan

    what about ibn inglor?

  • elan

    Dominique Young Unique? Check out her Throw It Down and her collab with Le Youth

  • jgonz

    what about Bleubird? Atmosphere? Sage Francis?

  • True Hill

    This list is pretty much my current playlist. There are a few missing though: billy woods, milo, and dare I say kanye.

  • drgunner

    do a producer edition

  • malick

    madlib, lil B, kool keith, all the emcees affiliated w/ low end theory (jeremiah jae, jonwayne, zeroh) and hellfyre club (nocando, milo, open mike eagle seem to be missing from this list (which is still pretty cool minus young thug).
    i’d love to see a part 2 to this article

  • of doom

    No Goldlink? fuck this

  • JG


  • JG


  • Confusion

    I think he’s making things interesting by proving that there are other paths to success, and that it’s possible for a hip-hop act to break in a major way through live shows, merch, and a cult following rather than radio plays, major labels, club hits, etc. But point taken.

  • Confusion

    I’m not familiar but will definitely check it out.

  • Confusion

    Cudi is the man. He definitely wouldn’t be out of place on here.

  • Confusion

    Good idea

  • Confusion

    Good call

  • Confusion

    Judging from the comments, we definitely may have to do a part two. We weren’t trying to list ALL of them, but definitely could have included more. We had Madlib initially but it’s hard to even box him in as a hip-hop artist.

  • Confusion

    Hell yeah, that was the hope

  • Maclom

    no flatbush zombies or lhxic?

  • Confusion

    Yeah for sure, reasoning was that we thought of him as more than a “hip-hop artist” with so many of his productions and side projects being more jazzy, soul-type stuff

  • Brendan Guiney

    Die Antwoord ? The most alternative

  • Brendan Guiney

    or Flatbush Zombies, GoldLink, possibly BADBADNOTGOOD

  • Jon

    What about Cakes Da Killa, he can rap his ass off, and there isn’t much homosexual rappers out there.

  • https://soundcloud.com/simon-navakas Young Wizard

    Don Christian is someone you guys recently covered who I think deserves a spot on this list too, but this list is a good one. I enjoyed reading : -)

  • jim


  • https://soundcloud.com/simon-navakas Young Wizard

    Don Christian as well?

  • Karitakon

    Even with their colaboritive track, “Bath Salt”. Flatbush Zombies leans way more to the camp of Pro Era opposed to A$AP MOB. This grouping is just a matter of opinon and observation such as yours. I would consider “Thug Waffle” and “S.C.O.S.A.” as their alternative tracks, it’s an expirmental sound that not many emcees comming from Brooklyn, let alone Flatbush, would would use.
    I suggest to check out, KING FANTASTIC, if you ever do a part two list. WestCostSyntasizerBeachBumGangsterMusic

  • boogie woogie


  • cold trooper

    No Open Mike Eagle or Busdriver? No Nocando? Why?

  • cold trooper


  • spamalot78

    Ka needs to be on here, too.

  • WeX

    consider Spark Master tape

  • Louis Roux

    YOH. Blackie is the fukkin whole entire NEXT LEVEL

  • http://inbetweenmindstates.bandcamp.com InBetweenMindStates


  • The Editor

    B L A C K I E is queer & has performed with queer rappers / punk bands / etc. in the past. I understand what you are saying tho~

  • ben


  • RodneyBlu

    Kilo Kish and Tink, for sure.

  • RodneyBlu

    Nah FTS

  • Sirrealist

    Wow!! No mention of the father’s of experimental rap, ANTIPOP CONSORTIUM

  • RodneyBlu

    Definitely a good look with Shabazz Palaces. Love them.

  • OGBobbyJohnson

    Interesting decision to include Young Thug on the list. Although I disagree with you that he’s “Alternative Rap” I also understand your argument. Either way though, that EWW joint goes hard!

  • OGBobbyJohnson

    Cudi don’t even really rap anymore though bruh

  • randomuser

    anyone down to share other artists who should be on a part 2 of this list. im sure all of us are interested in discovering new artists since we follow P&P.

  • Alex Maskill

    Man, old 90s metal/hardcore shirts are weirdly fashionable amongst alt-rappers now, huh?

  • DBA

    LEIKELI47 (from ny?) is female and doing great noise rap stuff. Also, one of the other groups Daveed from clipping is in, True Neutral Crew, is pretty experimental and includes a female rapper in the crew.

  • Carver Low

    Maybe… it’s because these kids were the alienated ones listening to hardcore and metal when the Baja Men and Eiffel 65 were all the rage, and now they’ve grown up to make interesting music?

    Nahhh they’re probably all poseurs.

  • marina

    The Hellfyre Club artists and Buck 65. I guess Cage isn’t alternative enough? Otherwise great list.

  • Andrew Thompson

    Sage Francis, B. Dylan, P.O.S., DOOMTREE, Prolyphic, Brother Ali, Eyedea & Abilities (R.I.P. Mikey)…. So many great independent artists

  • tha foo

    Blackie really? I thought the dude had a kid?? not to say that doesn’t make him gay or whatever but I didn’t know. anyways, you guys should’ve included Moodie Black in here their last shit is pretty dope

  • tha foo

    MOodie Black & Open Mike Eagle for part 2!

  • Andrew Thompson

    The fact Immortal Technique isn’t mentioned doesn’t make sense I mean he is the epitome of what they are discussing.

  • Yodi

    You need Lil Ugly Mane and Kool A.D.

  • ZepMonie

    Tonedeff is glaringly absent from this list.

  • Lex

    Surprised MOODIE BLACK and Le1F weren’t covered. Yes, should’ve had them in there, taking place of Young Thug and Nacho, they don’t really have a distinct signature “feel”.

  • Nemo

    Milo is a philosophy major from Wisconsin who asked his producers for beats that sounded like “trap for depressed people”. He’s the youngest member (by about a decade) of LA art rap collective Hellfyre Club. I’m a huge fan, no one sounds like him.
    Here’s him live on Kinda Neat.


  • nowon

    Check out nonamegypsy.

  • j-dub

    “If Gucci Mane had a penchant for psychedelic drugs, a love of vampires, and an encycopledic knowledge of pop culture, he might sound something like Seattle’s dead-panning Nacho Picasso. ” y’all some damn nerds- gucci literally has a song called vampire. not to mention his “knowledge of pop culture” is a constant draw in his lyrics.

  • mlo

    How is chance the rapper not included. Come on! Acid Rap?!?!?! the way he combines words in his rap contradict themselves which blows my mind!!!!

  • will


  • og


  • Arcadia

    Moodie Black

  • MK

    “Nhat (Nawt), seances a thumping number with lyrics, as no surprise, on par with Tom Waits as opposed to Rihanna” – UGHH.com

    “His husky voice goes non-stop” – Giant Robot Magazine

    “Considering the all around trippiness…he’s clearly interested in exploring iconoclastic artistic themes rarely touched upon in his genre of choice” – LA Record



  • Mx

    Crazy to me how yall left Travis Scott off the list.. Super crazy.

  • viv

    Young Fathers are amazing live

  • upther

    Yeah, I was kinda surprised not to see P.O.S. or any of the Doomtree guys on this list.

    Young Fathers and Rat King have two of my favorite albums this year.

  • AG

    Don’t care how much P&P pushes young thug he just doesn’t have any appeal in my opinion, I think next year will roll around and a lot of the cats on this list will be pushin tapes, ep’s and albums and he is just gonna be a thing of the past…think chief keef.

  • LadiesNight

    Where are all the female hip hop artists? (Leikeli47, Azealia Banks, Lizzo, Angel Haze, Sasha Go Hard, Rye Rye …etc)

  • LadiesNight

    Also Leikeli47 and Lizzo!Haze, Sasha Go Hard, Rye Rye

  • HeraldFoster

    A lot of fools like to hate on him but Sole is still coming out with good shit and his latest is a real branch away from the old sound. Surprised he can’t get a mention.

  • FakeHipster

    100% hipster rapper list more like. No offense to anyone who wants to get their vagina hurtt.

  • Tamia

    *waits for someone to mention hopsin*

  • Muse

    Holy sausage party, Batman. No Angel Haze? No Psalm One? No Sa Roc? No Stahrr? No Queen Godis?

  • jjj

    can someone tell me a good site i can download these on. I can barely find any torrents of any of these guys

  • http://eb0nics.wordpress.com Ebony

    Love the list because it shows just how multifaceted hip hop truly is. Has anyone checked out Raury? He’s a young kid out of Atlanta who seems very promising; especially in the alternative scene.

  • spoonski

    no name gypsy.

  • Jay

    No fucking competition. Tech N9ne will crush FAGbush Zombies, and probably has already crushed you sluts guts. You know DICK about music BITCH…

  • djl

    blackies fucking photo I’m done

  • t

    What? you crazy that song sucks

  • djl

    raury is a fucking calm and peacful genius

  • elia

    You’re right bruh I don’t know DICK. Sounds like you know plenty about DICK and got Tech N9ne’s dick down your throat & then some. Face it bro you’re favorite rapper is the corniest fucking rapper of all time. Painting his face and claiming hes a psycho? What a fucking gimmick. Oh and wow “FAGbush Zombies”? You’re so clever you should be a comedian

  • lol

    lol if you think tech n9ne is corny i fear for your taste of music

  • lol

    the same could go for you since youre on not 1, but 3 niggas’s dicks

  • elia

    Shut the fuck up. I bet you’re a faggot juggalo too.

  • drankhouse

    good music is good music , i am on some good hip hop and good purple drank syrup.if you need legit purple drank , red drank don’t hesitate to hit me up , call or text me at (240) 839-1360 or email chemistchem@outlook,com

  • LUL

    Khing Kang King/Mowgli

  • pops

    what chall know about Cornelius The Third tho?

  • NickleNine

    I fuck with this.

  • mom


  • http://www.thechicksters.com/ The Chicksters


  • HeadRoar

    You first, bitchface.

  • ferguson

    False 100%.

  • AtAcTa

    This seems like garbage compared to what I thought was “alternative.” Same old misogynist bullshit. Young Fathers are a great find, yes, and yes, do go to Anticon to find real music.

  • Colby Jeffers

    Great article, thanks for posting! I actually just wrote a blog post myself about Alternative Hip Hop, and gave you a shout out! Here’s the link if you want to check it out! http://mrhiphophead.wordpress.com/2014/08/26/what-is-alternative-hip-hop/

  • 91&^UP


  • Troy Terry

    GoldLink should be on here

  • Ol Sal

    Danny, clipping, death, shabazz are definates but tech n9nes ego is as big as gambino claims his dick is, the rest are also pretty decent except for daisy, isnt he electronic

  • Tomek Rysz

    “Government Plates” by Death Grips extremely good

  • Kim Flores

    what artist?

  • Kim Flores

    a ball or roll of seasoned chopped liver, baked or fried.
    a bundle of sticks bound together as fuel.

    bind in or make into faggots.
    (in embroidery) join by faggoting.

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