The Burst of Underground Hip Hop in North Carolina

Music lovers, and maybe a few other members of society, might be familiar with the true meaning of the underground hip hop music scene. The word “underground” may throw people off as it may mean something shady. However, underground hip hop just means hip hop music that is outside the mainstream media. It is often associated with independent artists who make anti-commercial, positive, or social-conscious songs.

Hip Hop
Hip Hop

Carolina is a state that is often associated with folk, blues, or country music. Although, in recent years, this U.S. state has also seen its burst of underground hip hop music and culture. The movement was initiated by the popularity of the Raleigh MCs and has spread through other aspiring artists in Charlotte.

The Beginnings of Carolina Hip Hop

Unknown to many, Carolina’s hip hop scene can be traced back to the early 2000’s beginning with North Carolina-based artist, Ski Beatz. He was chosen to polish up the beat for a music track, “Dead Presidents” for mainstream hip hop artist Jay-Z. This was followed by a resurrectionist movement led by Little Brother. The movement revived the ideals of old school hip hop sounds used in the major labels produced in the 2000s. Other notable artists from the state are 9th Wonder, who is known for his Grammy-worthy productions and famous hip hop artist, Big Daddy Kane who is from Raleigh. Since then, a lot of California local hip hop artists have been absorbed by the West Coast state, California, where hip hop culture is alive both in the underground and the mainstream. A notable mention is Snow Hill, North Carolina MC Rapsody who was enlisted as a special rap guest in Kendrick Lamar’s album, To Pimp a Butterfly. Dr. Dre also tapped local Carolina talents D.R.U.G.S. and King Mez for his album, Compton: A Soundtrack By Dr. Dre.

Up-and-Coming Carolina Hip Hop Artists

King Mez, a hip hop artist from Raleigh who helped produce Dr.Dre’s Compton album in 11 months, is a young MC and songwriter. He is known for his “Fresh Heir” brand music and his style-forward credo. He has released high-profile rap projects such as My Everlasting Zeal and Long Live the King. He is famous for his fanciful and oddball performances in clothier shops and contemporary art museums. 

Rapsody is a female hip hop artist from Snow Hill, South Carolina. She started as an artist as part of the local Raleigh hip hop group, Kooley High. Later on, her talent was spotted and began to grow even more in her solo career under the tutelage of music artist, 9th Wonder. Aside from her five mixtapes, Beauty and the Beast E.P., and The Idea of Beautiful L.P., she had also collaborated with other artists such as Raekwon, Chance the Rapper, and Mac Miller. Supastition is an “older” Charlotte rapper, but a lot of hip hop fans still hold his work as much better than his younger contemporaries. In his early years, he also recorded under artist names Blackmel and Kam Moye. He is best known for his performance in the W.N.Y.U. Halftime Show and his album, Gold Standard.