A Great Year for Underground Rap

Slate's Jonah Weiner explains why the genre is thriving in 2011.

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Das Racist

Slate's Jonah Weiner says if you're "tired of watching the throne," 2011 is the year for you. He says that underground artists like Lil B., Danny Brown, and Spaceghostpurrp have had great years so far, thanks in part to the Internet's low barriers to entry, and he celebrates what he says is a resurgence of underground rap:

In 2011, however, underground rappers are having a banner year -- creatively besting their aboveground counterparts in some cases. One of the [year's] most notorious albums belongs to Tyler, the Creator, the Los Angeles instigator who formed an art-rap collective, Odd Future, and who has sold 120,000 copies his proper LP debut, Goblin, on the independent label XL.

Das Racist's excellent first album, Relax, which the Brooklyn rappers released themselves this week, is a vertiginous jumble of highbrow and lowbrow, personal and political, laughs and invective. Lil B, formerly signed to a major label as part of one-hit wonders The Pack, has reinvented himself as a constantly self-reinventing, one-man meme-generator, capable of plausibly releasing a magnificently strange new-age album here, a boastful mix tape called I'm Gay there. (In a sign of just how topsy-turvy things have become, Justin Bieber is a Lil B fan.)

Shabazz Palaces' Black Up, released on the Seattle indie label Sub Pop, is a trippy gem, and the up and coming Harlem teenager ASAP Rocky has delivered a string of hypnotically slow, faintly melancholic singles online.

Read more at Slate.

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