15 Underground West Coast Rappers That Deserve Respect
For many years, the west coast took the hip hop crown from the east. At the moment, the east coast has a pretty firm grasp on the culture, but that doesn’t mean the west is lacking. So many talented emcees are from California, Oregon, and Washington state. Below are some of the many talented underground west coast rappers that you should have on your radar.
Top Underground West Coast Rappers I Love
First up is a female rapper from the California bay area by the name of RAAQEL. Her energy is in your face in the best way. She can spit bars in a fast or slow fashion with heavy intention. She has a method of rapping that reminds you that she is the boss and you’re along for the ride.
Her 7 track project, “3am in Frisco,” is a great mix of beat styles and flow cadences. About half the album contains drill beats, but she’s found manys ways to flow to avoid the typical drill rap stereotypes. I respect artists that can develop a sound and style that makes them stand out in a crowded music industry.
My Favorite RAAQEL Song: New Whip. RAAQEL teams up with Pasadena producer, BRIIZV, for this swaggy banger. RAAQEL’s flow floats above the bass heavy beat so smoothly. The production is on another level. Bump this song as you ride down the block.
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One of the heaviest hitters on this list is Demrick, a true OG. He has worked with many high level artists, such as B-Real, Xzibit, Kurupt, but he’s remained in the underground world. Technically, he’s from Philly, but he has lived on the west coast long enough that he’s earned his west coast stripes.
Some people may know him as “that other guy” from the Serial Killers group with B-Real and Xzibit, but put some respect on the man’s name! He always comes with compelling rhyme patterns backed by powerful delivery. His Stoney Point album series with DJ Hoppa is iconic.
My Favorite Demrick Song: Dreaming Of The Money. Can you guess what this song is about? This is no mindless money anthem though. I find it important to have hustle anthems at the ready for those tough grinds. This song is lyrically inspiring with a soothing beat to back it up.
In a world of outrage and overthinking, we need some positivity to help ground us. Gavlyn is like the cool ocean breeze on a scorching hot day. Her flow comes across like a street-hardened emcee, but her lyrical content is full of optimism and growth.
Her 2021 album, “Say Less, Love More,” is a creative guide to mental growth and self love. Music focused on positivity can come across as preachy sometimes, but Gavlyn walks the line with style and grace. This project is full of guidance, reminders, affirmations, and love. DJ Hoppa’s production is the perfect canvas for Gavlyn’s positivity.
My Favorite Gavlyn Song: Stop Trippin’. The title is pretty self explanatory. This song is an amazing reminder to not trip over the many obstacles on your journey. “That overthinking never going to work for you, stop trippin’, don’t get distracted from your own point of view, stop trippin’.” The horns in the beat add incredibly well-timed emphasis to the song’s message.
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Next up is a singer and rapper with baddie energy from the greater Los Angeles area. Her strong feminine vibe is a reminder to women everywhere of their own personal power. Her songwriting skills are remarkably refreshing in a world full of lazy writers. She impressively maintains consistent narratives while connecting potent rhymes.
The beauty of being a singer-rapper is that she can perform her hooks and verses without having to rely on other artists. This aids in her message of female empowerment immensely. She not only sings or raps about strong women, she shows with her art that she has taken control of her own musical destiny.
My Favorite Devin Sunshine Song: Too Much. This song embodies Devin so well. Her songwriting skills come full force to remind us that expecting perfection is a recipe for disaster. She sings, “if I’m too much then go find less, I don’t want anyone who only wants my best.” Her melodic rapping in the verses balances the catchy singing of the chorus so well.
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Another Los Angeles artist with amazing bars is Reverie. Some artists rap and some artists SPIT. Reverie spits rhymes with power and authority. When she speaks, there is no doubt she owns the mic. Her catalog goes all the way back to the late 2000’s and is full of fire.
She wears her heart on her sleeve and incorporates her own life struggles in her art. Her album, “Castle In The Air,” uses samples from “Good Fellas”. This movie has inspired many artists, but Reverie uses samples of Karen Hill, a woman abused and cheated on in the movie, to create an emotionally potent canvas for her rhymes. Her music embodies strength and growth in beautifully epic ways.
My Favorite Reverie Song: The Legendary Reverie. Produced by underground legend, Termanology, this track embodies Reverie’s commitment to her best life. Her rhymes touch on the many struggles of her life path and why she can’t give up now. Termanology crafted a beat that aligns very well with the lyrical theme. The way the guitar gently weeps in the background is pure perfection.
From Stockton, California, Acito brings that bay area vibe. You can feel the influence of the countless California legends that came before him. He glides onto bass heavy beats with a smooth flow. The beats he rhymes over are jarringly powerful, and so are his rhymes. It’s hard not to bang your head when you press play.
His album, “Undefeated,” is full of unrelentingly heavy bass from start to end. Even the softer songs on the album have booming bass. His brand of hard street poetry fits the aggressive beat selection perfectly. Acito raps incredibly well in the pocket of every beat This is true street music.
My Favorite Acito Song: Block Boom. Turn this song up in the car and your whole block will boom. His trademark bass boom combined with this piano loop make an infectious beat. Normally, I’m not a huge fan of songs that are less than two minutes long, but this one gets a pass. Put it on repeat and get lost in it.
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Oakland has produced some outstanding artists over the years. The next prodigy from The Town is Nimsins. Coming with an abstract sound and self aware lyrical content, he is anything but lacking. More and more artists are speaking openly about their life experience and the personal growth that accompanies that experience. The more open and honest an artist is, the more I respect their art.
Nimsins seems to be connecting with listeners who want less party music and more mental stimulation. His emotional relatability and openness add beautiful layers to his catalog. His rhymes have a stream-of-consciousness feel to them that makes them feel even more emotionally potent. This lyrical style over abstract beats creates a vibe that you can easily get lost in.
My Favorite Nimsins Song: Butterknife. This one minute track has no fat whatsoever. It gets right into deep bars and off kilter drum beats. His flow style is unrelenting and insightful while the beat sings in the background.
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Nito is a young man, but his flow has age and wisdom to it. Some people are old souls. You can tell he has studied the greats of hip hop and is using that knowledge to tell his story. He spits with true intention and pure clarity. His technical ability is very impressive for someone his age.
His 2022 album, “4DASOUL,” is an incredible journey. It starts with an emotionally vulnerable track with almost no bass present, titled Your Pain. He follows that up with Wise, a track that shows his Oakland upbringing in style and sound. By the end of the album, you feel like you know Nito on a deeply personal level. I can’t recommend this album enough.
My Favorite Nito Song: When I’m Sober. Get ready for a smooth, vibey song that will hook you in deeper with every bar. Nito’s technical lyrical ability will have you connecting to his lyrics. The beat will penetrate your soul and soothe your stresses.
This man will reach through the headphone, grab you by the collar, and drag you into his world of gritty rap. His sound is familiar to anyone that likes underground hip hop. The way he executes his musical vision is raw and real in every way.
His project, “ATTENTION SPAN,” is a beautifully gritty masterpiece. Take 11 minutes and 8 seconds to listen to this and you will not look back. The intro song, GRIZZLY ON A UNICYCLE, has no drum beat which is the ultimate lyrical flex. Once he has your attention, the second track smacks you in the face with a raw beat and pure lyrical prowess.
My Favorite Nán Fiero Song: GRIZZLY ON A UNICYCLE. Drumless beats are incredibly hard to successfully execute. It relies mainly on the sheer lyrical ability of the artist. Nán Fiero comes hard with the rhymes and gives you every reason to fall in love with his catalog.
Y’all are not ready for this next artist. Spote Breeze is pushing lyrical limits with his decisive flow. He maintains a calm tone while he lyrically blasts the track. He takes command of the beat and inserts rapid fire wordplay. He is always finding new pockets within the percussion to fit his creative flow.
His 2018 album, “Not Aloud,” is full of mentally challenging themes and genius wordplay. It is packed with dizzying rhymes that can lead to meaningful conversations. His mentality shines through his rhymes and probes your brain with purposeful questions.
My Favorite Spote Breeze Song: Broke. This track reminds me of a young Kendrick Lamar – vocal distortion and all. Spote uses clever wordplay, unique transitions, a thought provoking theme, and catchy flows to grab your attention. Every aspect of this song is well crafted. “Money is only as valuable as you make it.”
Yet another Oakland artist making waves in this rap game is demahjiae. As a producer and rapper, he pushes the boundaries of both sonic avenues. His ability to create hypnotic beats is vibrant and inspiring. To produce, write, and perform works of art with this much depth requires powerful vision.
He appears to be on the edge of what most people consider underground. He was featured on Navy Blue’s 2021 album, “Navy’s Reprise,” which received a large amount of attention and critic praise. His work on multiple Ovrkast albums has no doubt contributed to his growing fan base. It’s just a matter of time until demahjiae blows up.
My Favorite demahjiae Song: Idgaf. This beautifully abstract and imaginative song borders on melodic rap. Its sentiment is simple, as you can tell by the title, but its execution is brilliant and dynamic. This track always gets me swaying back and forth.
BigDaddyChop reminds me of a young Westside Gunn. His cinematic backtracks and unique vocal style make it hard to confuse him with anyone else. He is an artist and producer with an incredible work ethic. From 2019 to 2022, he released seven projects! Again, reminding me of Westside Gunn.
His two beat tapes, “Interval” and “Chopvilla,” are incredible sonic journeys. His catalog boasts a phenomenal knowledge of soul, RnB, and gospel. His music background is obviously extensive and his rhyming ability is equally as impressive.
My Favorite BigDaddyChop Song: You. A soulful sample fills the backtrack as Chop lyrically dominates. His rhyme pattern is full of fluid style and technical intricacy. It’s equally soothing to get lost in the beat or his rhymes. Utter mastery.
The youngest artist out of all these underground west coast rappers is noahillest. It’s uncommon to find young artists with knowledge of self and powerful ways to express it. noahillest is one of those very rare people. This Seattle rapper has a style reminiscent of many soulful Chicago hip hop artists.
Mixing his unique vocal delivery and soulful beat samples creates a very diverse vibe to his music. His sound feels refreshing and nostalgic at the same time. I’m excited to see how his career evolves. Don’t sleep on noahillest.
My Favorite noahillest Song: Look, No Farther Than Me. Saxophone beats are a special breed. This song is composed exquisitely from top to bottom. It begins with a voicemail from his grandfather creating a personal feel. It only gets more personal as he raps about self medicating and his family. How do you not feel this deeply?
Time to go deep underground…the next artist on this list has no social media which is impressive in this era. Most artists need the internet to promote their music and find new listeners, but Brian Knockin has an audience regardless. This says so much about the quality of his artistry and his musical network.
He has multiple collaborative albums with super-producer, BhramaBull, that will knock you back (pun intended). Brian seems to never run out of innovative rhymes. A lot of artists will stick with a couple sonic lanes, but Brian doesn’t shy away from any sound or style. I admire an artist that always challenges themself to do new things.
My Favorite Brian Knockin Song: Renouned. A beautiful soul sample lays the foundation for Brian to lyrically preach. This track goes into detail on generational wealth and genuine hustling. “The harder you hustle the sooner you bubble.”
The newest artist on this list is K3NT. With no album out, only singles, he has started to make his impression felt. His scratchy voice implies life lived and his rhymes prove it. His art is genuine poetry over drum beats. He raps in ways reminiscent of the underground legend, Earl Sweatshirt.
Since September 2022, he has had an impressive run of singles. Each single further brings to life K3NT’s musical world. This world is refreshingly hypnotic and celestial. It’s exciting to see artists this fresh and genuine.
My Favorite K3NT Song: BUZZING WLIFE/BLKSALMON. K3NT floats over this hypnotic beat with such precision. His flow and lyrical content align so well and create an ethereal listener experience.
This is just the beginning of the musical mastery that continues to pour out of the west coast. People like Dr Dre, Macklemore, and Nipsey Hussle get a lot of attention when people mention west coast artists, but there is endless talent coming from every corner of this coast. Don’t sleep on any of the artists on this list because they are doing artistically monumental things for their cities.
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