How Underground Hip Hop Artists Are Making Waves 

The underground scene of hip-hop is thriving with diverse and innovative sounds that challenge the mainstream.
GQ Men of the Year Party 2023 - Inside
GQ Men of the Year Party 2023 - Inside / Emma McIntyre/GettyImages

Hip-hop is still one of the most popular music genres in the U.S. However, the number of people actually listening is declining year by year.

"Record producer Juicy J recently claimed that hip hop sales are down by 40% in 2023, with the genre not seeing a number one album this year until Travis Scott’s “Utopia” and a No. 1 song until Doja Cat’s “Paint The Town Red,” according to Billboard. This may be due to an overall decline of the genre, and the fact that artists such as Morgan Wallen and Taylor Swift have been dominating the charts this year."

However, the state of hip hop itself is changing.

"With the streaming era in full swing and artists now gearing some of their music towards social media platforms, hip hop is moving into a new era."

One of the most exciting aspects of this evolution is the rise of underground hip-hop artists who are creating original, refreshing and diverse sounds that deviate from the mainstream.

"What makes an artist “underground” is a tricky subject to tackle, with different definitions making it hard to tell. But generally, an underground artist is someone with a slight cult following that has allowed them to transcend into the spotlight when given the chance. Eventually, an underground artist can grow enough support and popularity to rise to the mainstream spotlight."

Some of the underground hip hop artists who are making waves in 2023 include:

Reverse Mechanic

"The Minneapolis rapper/producer consistently released new content throughout 2022 His biggest hit, “The Culprit,” racked up more than 175,000 YouTube views last year, and with his unique blend of top-notch lyrics and wildly entertaining videos, his star will continue to rise in 2023. He describes his style as “alternative hip hop with a twist of comedy and storytelling."


The Charlotte, North Carolina rapper is signed to Warner Music Group. He dropped his debut self-titled album, RonSoCold, in May 2022, which featured production from Lil Tecca, Jetson, Richie Souf, Nick Mira, Working on Dying, and more. He is known for his melodic and catchy trap songs that showcase his versatility and charisma. He says his album is for “anyone who has been counted out or had people tell you; you can’t do this or that.”


The Louisville, Kentucky, artist who is also signed to Warner Music Group. He released his project, Pregame Rituals, in April 2022, which included the viral hit “Old Streets.” He blends hip-hop with soulful R&B influences to create a smooth and emotional sound. He says his music is “inspired by real life experiences and the things I’ve been through.


The Minneapolis hip-hop artist had huge success in 2022 with numerous releases, including his album HVN. He infuses hip-hop with soulful R&B grooves to create a truly unique sound. He has an expanding fan base and word spreading about his dynamic live performances. Not only that, but hebase, says his music is “about being yourself and having fun.”

These are just some of the examples of underground hip-hop artists who are rising from the underground and making their mark on the music industry. They are proving that hip-hop is not dead, but rather evolving and adapting to the changing times and tastes of the listeners. They are also challenging the mainstream artists to step up their game and offer something new and different to the fans.

Underground hip-hop is the purest form of hip-hop, because it doesn’t have any of the industry's politics or pressures that can compromise the artistic vision and integrity of the artists. It is also the most diverse and innovative form of hip-hop style because it allows the artists to experiment with different sounds, styles and influences. Underground hip hop is the future of hip hop, and it is here to stay.