Opinion: Top 10 underrated rap artists to look out for

The Lantern
Kenny Mason performed on the second day of Lollapalooza, July 30, 2021. Credit: Vashon Jordan Jr via TNS

Streaming services and social media platforms have launched the careers of many of today’s most popular musicians. While finding a new artist is an exciting experience, discovering a lesser-known artist and watching his or he career progress is far more rewarding.

According to Billboard , rap is the most popular genre in the U.S. With some of the top artists in the world — like Drake, Future and Lil Baby — it’s safe to say that rap music will be relevant for decades to come.

Although many rap artists occupy top spots on the charts, there are others with incredible talent that aren’t as well-known. Here are 10 up-and-coming rap artists to check out:


This rapper, based in Charlotte, North Carolina, is one of the more well-rounded artists on the list. MAVI is a vulnerable artist with an instrumental selection that is second to none. His baritone voice and nonchalant delivery allow for his tracks to flow. His 2019 album, “Let the Sun Talk,” and his 2022 project, “Laughing so Hard, it Hurts,” are some of the best hip-hop albums to come out in their respective years. MAVI shines when it comes to his lyrical ability, as his words tend to paint pictures of his upbringing and struggles with mental health.

Kenny Mason

Atlanta-based rapper Kenny Mason received attention after he was featured on JID’s “Dance Now” and Dreamville’s “Stick,” both of which have amassed over 30 million streams on Spotify. While his discography contains a fair amount of dark, aggressive songs, Mason also thrives when he sits back and allows his pen game to wow the audience. Mixing rock and rap, Mason is a poetic wild card who can perform over any sound he pleases.

Tanna Leone

Signed to Kendrick Lamar’s entertainment company, PgLang, Tanna Leone is a multifaceted artist with an incredible presence. His talents not only landed him on Lamar’s radar, but led to his appearance on Lamar’s 2022 album “Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers” as well as Lamar’s tour following the album’s release. Leone’s newest project, “Sleepy Soldier,” is an emotional rollercoaster, with plenty of upbeat tracks as well as emotional, introspective ballads.

Jean Dawson

Jean Dawson’s spot on this list is well-deserved, as it’s unfair to label him as an artist of a single genre. Similar to Kenny Mason, most of Dawson’s discography contains tracks that blend elements of rock, metal-rap and other genres in a complex, yet cohesive blend. Dawson’s 2022 project, “CHAOS NOW*,” features 13 well-rounded tracks with features from popular rappers Earl Sweatshirt and Isaiah Rashad.


Joony, a Maryland native, has been steadily climbing in popularity from his 2021 album, “SILENT BATTLES,” his 2022 release, “Pretty In Black” and his features on multiple tracks by R&B artist Brent Faiyaz. His smooth, melodic delivery carries a level of confidence. Joony knows how to provide the listener with a ton of energy just as well as he knows how to sing of heartbreak, making him a versatile young talent.

Deante’ Hitchcock

Deante’ Hitchcock has the lyrical ability to go toe-to-toe with any artist. He’s shown his talents against his peers, as he’s created songs with popular artists — such as JID, 6LACK and Miguel. Hitchcock’s debut album “BETTER,” released in 2020, is full of lyrical tell-alls and softer, R&B-inspired tracks — both of which showcase Hitchcock at his best.


Yet another talented and versatile artist from Atlanta, SwaVay has a complete toolkit at his disposal. From songs with infectious pop vocals like “Better,” hard-hitting tracks like “JUGG” to passionate ones like “RUNAWAY,” SwaVay demonstrates talent that transcends any single genre. He gained buzz for his appearance on the 2018 soundtrack for “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse,” featuring on the song “Elevate” by DJ Khalil. His 2022 album, “ALMETHA’S SON,” further solidifies his sound with outstanding performances, track after track.

Chris Patrick

Chris Patrick is a unique talent that cannot be overlooked. The New Jersey-based artist has seen a great deal of support in recent years. His song “Swish” was included in the NBA 2K21 soundtrack and his 2020 project, “From The Heart, Vol. 2,” features some of the best storytelling in music that year. Patrick can master any sound, shown in his R&B-centered “3AM,” or his sincere confessional track, “Useless.” With ties to artists, like WESTSIDE BOOGIE and JID, Chris Patrick is a generational artist who creates timeless music.


Wakai, a Baton Rouge, Louisiana, native, creates music that reflects his upbringing. With skilled delivery reminiscent of popular southern rappers, like OutKast, Wakai performs over soulful instrumentals that allow his vocals to calmly float over the track. His 2022 project, “To a Dark Boy,” is full of expression and hunger — one of the many reasons why Wakai is an artist to look out for.


Arguably the most intense, experimental artist on the list, Diz’s talent rivals some of the best. Similar to Wakai, Diz creates music that is full of soul and passion. Diz’s production tends to be minimal and, at times, unsettling. His dark, somber lyrics are heavy and unpolished in an eerily beautiful way. Diz puts his entire heart and soul into his craft, no matter how revealing or self-deprecating.

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