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10 Artists to Watch in 2022 in Underground Hip-Hop

By Jacob Ezra

Che Noir

Buffalo emcee Che Noir started 2022 off excitingly with her album Food For Thought, an elegant, evocative record chock full of sharply-crafted wordplay. Containing graceful, textured instrumentals that immerse the listener in their atmosphere, Food For Thought further showcases her immaculate ear for production, and cements her as one of the underground’s top lyricists today.

Highlight song: “Bless the Food”

Fatboi Sharif

New Jersey rapper Fatboi Sharif‘s 2021 project Gandhi Loves Children was one of our favourite offerings last year, catching our attention for its thought-provoking lyricism and mysterious, warm production. A quirky, character-rich emcee with a knack for off-the-wall, esoteric references, Sharif’s vivid bars never leave the listener with dull moments.

Highlight song: “Fly Pelican” with Roper Williams and YL

Hook

California artist Hook‘s 2022 album From, Hook continues her prolific run of forward-thinking, captivating releases. Surreal and atmospheric, her sound is idiosyncratic and highly recognizable, making her stand out in hip-hop’s current landscape and always giving the listener a refreshing experience.

Highlight song: “IDK”

Na-Kel Smith

Los Angeles musician and professional skateboarder Na-Kel Smith‘s recent album SKULLFACE BONEHEAD‘s abstract, textural sound further cements him as a creative artist always willing to push the boundaries.With an eclectic style that never gets boring, it will be interesting to watch Smith’s continual growth this year.

Highlight song: “HARVARD GRAD”

Rome Streetz

New York rapper Rome Streetz has been breaking major ground in recent years, releasing solid projects like Razor’s Edge with Futurewave and Coup de Grâce with Ransom, and delivering some excellent verses on songs like Westside Gunn‘s “Peri Peri”. The rapper’s gritty delivery and nimble flows are simply captivating, as his detail-rich verses paint crystal clear pictures for the listener.

Highlight song: “Pray For The Weak” with Ransom

D2x

Chicago rapper D2x shared a vibrant, engaging project in last year’s The Color Blue, which made waves on the internet for its personal lyricism and willingness to experiment sonically. Throughout the album, he showed much potential as a vocalist, with a dynamic performance that painted a picture of him as a diverse artist. All of this considered, one cannot help but be curious of what he may have in store next in 2022.

Highlight song: “Adult Swim” with Ro Marsalis

Rigz

Rochester, NY rapper Rigz has been making some major waves recently with his projects Wake Ups and 2022’s Gold alongside the legendary Muggs. With an infectious delivery paired with eclectic lyricism, Rigz’s style excites with off-the-wall flows, and his ear for elegant, addictive production is immaculate.

Highlight song: “Gold” with Muggs

Fatboyshaun

Texas artist Fatboyshaun finished 2021 on a strong note with $100 Pasta Plates, his collaborative project with producer Trox. With a natural talent for vivid lyricism, his recent output has us excited for what will come this year from the rising artist, whose commanding delivery and dynamic flows prove to be consistently memorable.

Highlight song: “Timmy Chans” with Trox

Chanelle Kazadi

Ravenna, Ohio artist Chanelle Kazadi‘s tireless work ethic, effortlessly smooth flows, and ear for off-the-beaten path sounds make her an artist that we are excited to watch this year. With her release Make It Work in 2021, she came through with evocatively personal verses and a layered sound that kept us intrigued by the details in both the instrumentation and lyrics.

Highlight song: “N.Y.R.”

Myles Bullen

Poet, rapper, and songwriter Myles Bullen‘s music blends a variety of influences in a stimulating, distinctive style, with sounds that are soft, dream-like, and psychedelic. Bullen’s willingness to be personal and meditations on a variety of potent current topics make them an engaging, thought-provoking artist to watch in 2022. Having just dropped a mesmerizing new project Mourning Travels, they seem poised for an exciting year ahead.

Highlight song: “* Ordinary Magic *” with billy woods

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