With every passing moment seems to also exist a passing judgement on the current state of the culture. And more than any other spectrum of music, that of hip-hop as it pertains to the skill of its lyrical rappers seems most victim to claims of superiority from the past. But those claiming supremacy are simply wrong. Yes, hip-hop’s Golden and Gangtsa eras were hyper-poetic. But the roots dug deep in those epochs continue to grow, even as more melodic and experimental forms, too, thrive. Hip-hop is simply more well-rounded and bountiful now, so for a listener looking for rappers really rapping, trust that there is no shortage of young poets putting to verse rhymes as potent as have ever been spit before.


And less now than ever are the constraints of region necessarily tied to lyrical prowess. Instead, rappers from everywhere rap, just as rappers from everywhere make melodic, experimentally nuanced music, albeit it all often in ways drawn from the foundations of their region’s past. From the East, the West, the Midwest, the South, and far beyond hip-hop’s pillars in the US – extending into Canada, Europe, the Caribbean, West Africa, Asia, and to every corner of the world – a good portion of hip-hop artists curate their craft from the depths of Rhythm and Poetry’s particularly poetic nature.


With the amount of people making hip-hop these days, it’s really just a numbers game. Somewhere at every level of the rap game are lyrical powerhouses pushing the boundaries of the rhyme, the flow, and the delivery. At the top, listen to any Kendrick project, anything from Dreamville, and the occasional reminder that some of the hit-making radio stars of the past decade are also rooted in rhyme.


But beneath the most popular, radio-hit emcees, a mosaic of dynamic scenes from cities and regions big and small brimming with the raps from an endless sea of artistry is proving that rap – real rap – remains central to hip-hop’s continued lineage. Real rap always prospers, one need only to look a little harder to find it. And that’s exactly what this playlist is all about. We’re all for the real rappers – especially the underground emcees – of today making waves and putting into focus just how lyrically dynamic hip-hop remains even in the face of stylistic diversity and adversity from hip-hop old heads sustained in celebration for their own period of music. When one knows where to look to find the poetic mosaic of the modern hip-hop cloth, there is no longer room for false claims to superiority, only celebration that the breadth of the hip-hop spectrum has made it modern music’s most wide-ranging scene.


But make no mistake, even through the immense lens of modern hip-hop:


Real. Rap. Always. Prospers.