Rap has its champions, the Kings and Queens that are constantly celebrated and brought up in discussion about the greats in Hip Hop, and rightfully so. However, there are several artists that had their hand in impacting Hip Hop culture whose legacy seem to be undervalued and under appreciated. In no particular order, the following is a list of rappers that have been slighted for the credit that they deserve for their innovation and influence on the rap game.
From his lyricism to his incredible, “unusual” music video aesthetics that he became known for throughout his career, Luda is an unappreciated gem in hip hop. I think Ludacris may even be one of the most versatile rappers of all time when it comes to flow. He was never afraid to push the envelope when it came to his visuals, and his rapping style was always very distinct and theatrical. Today, Ludacris is focused less on his music career and more on his family, acting career, and current gig as the host of the recently rebooted Fear Factor. If I’m being honest, his latest music hasn’t really done much for me. However, Ludacris’s overall career and diversity in his work makes him deserving of much more credit as a MC, than he’s ever received. Regarded as “animated” by many, he had diversity in content, as his more social records never got the praise they rightfully deserved.
I have no idea why Twista’s career has faded into obscurity. I hardly hear anyone mention him anymore, and it’s like everyone’s memory of his heavy presence in rap in the early to mid 2000s suddenly dissolved. Twista had hits that can still be bumped today, like “Overnight Celebrity”, Get It Wet”, “Girl Tonite.” He also supplied features on throwback tracks such as “Slow Jamz”, “DJ Play A Love Song”. He was even named the fastest rapper by the Guinness World Records of 1992. The thing about Twista that I always liked was that he never sacrificed the quality of his lyrics to accomplish his super fast flow. I still hear Twista on a recent track every now and then; “Woosah” on Jeremih’s Late Nights album comes to mind, but seemingly people rarely revere him as much as he deserves.
I could probably write an essay on how Lil Kim’s music, persona, and fashion has changed the entire climate of female rap. There is no mainstream female rapper of today that has not been influenced by Lil Kim in some way. I mention Kim as an “underrated” rapper because many rap fans of today tend to overlook or purposely deny her influence. What many don’t realize is that the unapologetically sexual lyrics coupled with the girly, glamorous, “urban” sense of fashion seen on many female rappers today such as Nicki Minaj and Cardi B, originate from Lil Kim. Most of this is probably due to the age of most hip hop fans today (even I was only a baby/toddler at the height of Kim’s career), but I feel like the denial of her contribution to the rap game is blatant disrespect.
“Lunch tables will never be the same,” is one of the declarations popularly used on social media by those who understand the influence of the legendary “Grindin.” Aside from “Grindin’”, the whole Lord Willin’ album is a classic that should be celebrated more. The two members, Pusha T and Malice eventually went their separate ways, each releasing solo projects. Malice found God while, Pusha T’s latest album, Daytona sent shock waves through the industry following his diss record against Drake. Clipse’s music has stood the test of time, but no one seems to discuss their mark on hip hop. Of course, Pusha T is still an active and respected rapper in the game, but it’s necessary that we acknowledge the legacy of the duo that made him who he is today and gave us so many throwback hits.
Missy Elliot was one of the most talented and innovative minds in rap in general, let alone female rap. Like the previously mentioned Ludacris, Missy Elliot had some of the most iconic music videos in all of Hip Hop history. However for some reason, I find that Missy Elliot is often excluded from conversations of legendary female rappers. Missy Elliot doesn’t get nearly enough credit for her unique and “eccentric” sound and image. Missy is also an extremely versatile artist, and had the ability to adapt her sound from rap to smooth R&B. She even produced some of the most treasured hits in the hip hop and R&B community, from “So Gone,” by Monica, to “Free Yourself” by Fantasia, to countless Aaliyah songs.
Of course, this list isn’t anywhere near being complete. There are countless other rap artists whose legacies have been somewhat forgotten, despite their talents and contribution to the culture. When it comes to any art, true talent is not always indicated by popularity.
Who are some artists you feel like does not get their proper credit in the culture?