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10 Intriguing and Underrated 90s Rappers

Factors contributing to these 90s rappers being underrated are…

Lack of promotion: In the 90s, record labels played a significant role in promoting artists and their music. If a major label did not back a rapper or did not receive sufficient promotion from their label, it could have hindered their success and led to them being underrated.

rappers, 90s rappers
ATLANTA, GA – NOVEMBER 17: Goodie Mob with Cee-Lo (3rd) at the 2011 Soul Train Awards at The Fox Theatre on November 17, 2011 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Rick Diamond/Getty Images)

Timing: The 90s was a decade that saw the emergence of several iconic rap groups and solo artists. With so much competition in the market, some talented rappers may have been overlooked due to timing or simply being overshadowed by bigger names.

Musical style: Rap music underwent several changes and evolution in the 90s, with various sub-genres emerging. Some rappers may have had a unique style that did not fit into the mainstream trends or was ahead of its time, which could have caused them to be underrated at the time.

Public reception: Ultimately, the success of any artist depends on the public reception to their music. Even if a rapper had the talent and potential, if their music did not resonate with the audience, it could have contributed to them being underrated. It’s worth noting that the term “underrated” is subjective, and what one person may consider underrated, another may not.

Additionally, some rappers who may have been underrated in the 90s have since gained recognition and appreciation for their contributions to the genre.

The Beatnuts: Latin-infused Beats and Humorous Lyrics

This Queens-based duo made up of JuJu and Psycho Les were known for their Latin-infused beats and humorous lyrics. Their 1993 debut album “Intoxicated Demons” and subsequent releases, such as “Stone Crazy” (1997) and “A Musical Massacre” (1999), were critically acclaimed but didn’t achieve mainstream success.

The Beatnuts were a hip-hop duo consisting of two rappers and producers: JuJu (Jerry Tineo) and Psycho Les (Lester Fernandez). They were based in Queens, New York. The Beatnuts gained recognition in the 1990s for their unique blend of Latin-infused beats, catchy melodies, and humorous lyrics.

JuJu and Psycho Les were known for their production skills, often incorporating samples from various genres into their music, including funk, soul, and Latin music. They released their debut album, “Intoxicated Demons: The EP,” in 1993, which showcased their energetic and playful style.

Throughout their career, The Beatnuts released several albums, including “Street Level” (1994), “Stone Crazy” (1997), and “A Musical Massacre” (1999). Their music was characterized by their distinctive production style, catchy hooks, and witty wordplay.

Although The Beatnuts achieved critical acclaim for their albums and were respected within the hip-hop community, they didn’t achieve significant mainstream success. However, their music has had a lasting impact on the underground hip-hop scene and they are often recognized for their contributions to the genre.

Jeru the Damaja: Socially Conscious Lyrics and Laid-back Flow

This Brooklyn-based rapper was known for his socially conscious lyrics and laid-back flow. His 1994 debut album “The Sun Rises in the East” was critically acclaimed but didn’t achieve commercial success, despite its introspective themes and gritty production.

Jeru the Damaja, whose real name is Kendrick Jeru Davis, is an American rapper and hip-hop artist. He was born on February 14, 1972, in Brooklyn, New York. Jeru the Damaja is known for his socially conscious lyrics, laid-back flow, and introspective themes in his music.

Jeru the Damaja gained prominence in the mid-1990s as part of the influential hip-hop collective Gang Starr Foundation, which also included artists like Guru, DJ Premier, and Group Home. He caught the attention of the hip-hop community with his guest appearance on Gang Starr’s album “Daily Operation” in 1992, where he showcased his lyrical skills and distinctive voice.

In 1994, Jeru the Damaja released his debut album, “The Sun Rises in the East,” which is considered a classic in hip-hop circles. The album featured production from DJ Premier and showcased Jeru’s thought-provoking lyrics and socially conscious messages. Tracks like “Come Clean” and “Mental Stamina” became underground hits and solidified Jeru’s reputation as a skilled lyricist and storyteller.

Following the success of his debut, Jeru the Damaja released his second album, “Wrath of the Math,” in 1996. The album continued to showcase his introspective and politically charged lyrics, with tracks like “Ya Playin’ Yaself” addressing social and cultural issues.

Throughout his career, Jeru the Damaja has maintained a consistent output of music, with albums like “Heroz4Hire” (1999), “Divine Design” (2003), and “Still Rising” (2007). While he may not have achieved mainstream commercial success on the level of some of his peers, he has maintained a dedicated following and continues to release music independently.

Jeru the Damaja is highly respected in the hip-hop community for his lyrical prowess, conscious content, and unique delivery. His contributions to the genre have made a lasting impact, and he remains an influential figure in underground hip-hop.

Smif-N-Wessun: Hardcore Lyrics and Gritty Beats

This Brooklyn-based duo made up of Tek and Steele were known for their hardcore lyrics and gritty beats. Their 1995 debut album “Dah Shinin” was critically acclaimed but didn’t achieve commercial success, despite collaborations with Wu-Tang Clan members RZA and Method Man.

Smif-N-Wessun is a renowned rap duo composed of Tek (Tekomin Williams) and Steele (Darrell Yates). They have gained prominence for their intense lyrical content, raw beats, and their affiliation with the Boot Camp Clik, a distinguished hip-hop collective hailing from Brooklyn, New York.

The duo made their debut in the early 1990s, establishing themselves as prominent figures within the East Coast hip-hop scene. Their recognition surged after making notable appearances on Black Moon’s influential album “Enta da Stage” in 1993. This paved the way for the release of their inaugural album, “Dah Shinin’,” in 1995.

Produced by Da Beatminerz, the album brilliantly showcased Smif-N-Wessun’s aggressive and unfiltered style, with tracks such as “Bucktown” and “Wontime” quickly earning cult status within the underground rap scene. Their debut album was met with critical acclaim, solidifying Smif-N-Wessun’s position as a force to be reckoned with in the rap industry.

However, despite their undeniable talent and the positive reception to their first album, Smif-N-Wessun encountered several challenges along the way. Legal complications arose surrounding their original name, “Smif-N-Wessun,” necessitating a change to “Cocoa Brovaz” due to trademark conflicts with the firearms manufacturer Smith & Wesson. Nevertheless, the duo successfully reclaimed their original name in the early 2000s.

Over the years, Smif-N-Wessun has consistently released music, including their sophomore album, “The Rude Awakening” (1998). This project further exemplified their gritty style and featured notable collaborations with esteemed artists like Raekwon and Mary J. Blige. Additionally, they actively contributed to the collective albums of the Boot Camp Clik and engaged in various collaborative endeavors with other members of the group.

In recent times, Smif-N-Wessun has maintained a strong presence by independently releasing music and embarking on extensive tours. They have remained loyal to their hardcore rap roots, delivering unapologetic and raw lyrics over rugged beats. Their unwavering dedication to their craft and their significant contributions to the East Coast rap scene have solidified their status as respected veterans in the realm of hip-hop.

Group Home: DJ Premier’s Protégés, Overlooked Brilliance

This Queens-based duo made up of Lil’ Dap and Melachi the Nutcracker were protégés of Gang Starr’s DJ Premier. Their 1995 debut album “Livin’ Proof” featured DJ Premier’s signature production and the duo’s introspective lyrics, but mainstream audiences largely overlooked it.

Group Home is a rap duo comprised of members Lil’ Dap (James Heath) and Melachi the Nutcracker (Malachi Ezekiel). They are recognized as protégés of DJ Premier, the renowned producer and DJ associated with the influential hip-hop group Gang Starr.

The duo hails from Queens, New York, and emerged in the mid-1990s during the golden era of East Coast hip-hop. They gained notable attention with their debut album, “Livin’ Proof,” released in 1995. The album showcased their introspective and reflective lyrics combined with DJ Premier’s signature production style, characterized by gritty and sample-heavy beats. Premier’s involvement with Group Home brought an air of authenticity to their sound, further enhancing their reputation.

“Livin’ Proof” was highly regarded by critics and hip-hop enthusiasts for its raw and unfiltered depiction of urban life. The album featured notable tracks such as “Supa Star” and “Suspended in Time,” which showcased Lil’ Dap and Melachi’s lyrical prowess and storytelling abilities. DJ Premier’s production played a crucial role in creating a cohesive and sonically appealing backdrop for their verses.

Despite the critical acclaim received by “Livin’ Proof,” the album did not achieve significant commercial success. However, it became a cult classic among hip-hop purists and garnered a dedicated following. The album’s focus on street narratives, personal struggles, and poetic lyricism resonated with listeners who appreciated its authentic representation of the realities of life in the inner city.

Following their debut, Group Home released subsequent projects, including “A Tear for the Ghetto” in 1999 and “G.U.R.U.” (Gifted Unlimited Rhymes Universal) in 2010, paying homage to their mentor and the late rapper Guru from Gang Starr. While these releases did not attain the same level of recognition as their debut, they demonstrated Group Home’s commitment to their craft and their continued musical output.

Group Home’s legacy lies in their association with DJ Premier and their contribution to the East Coast hip-hop scene of the 1990s. Their debut album, “Livin’ Proof,” remains a revered piece of rap history, celebrated for its lyrical depth, gritty production, and authentic portrayal of urban experiences. Despite not achieving mainstream success, Group Home’s impact can be felt through their influential collaborations and their enduring presence in the hearts of dedicated hip-hop fans.

AZ: Intricate Wordplay and Smooth Flows in the Shadows

This Brooklyn-based rapper was known for his intricate wordplay and smooth flow. His 1995 debut album “Doe or Die” was critically acclaimed but didn’t achieve the same commercial success as other East Coast hip-hop releases that year.

AZ, whose real name is Anthony Cruz, is a rapper hailing from Brooklyn, New York. He gained recognition in the mid-1990s as a member of the hip-hop collective known as The Firm, alongside Nas, Foxy Brown, and Cormega. However, it was his solo career that solidified his status as a respected lyricist and storyteller in the rap industry.

AZ’s debut album, “Doe or Die,” released in 1995, is often regarded as a classic in hip-hop. The album showcased AZ’s intricate wordplay, smooth flow, and reflective lyricism, earning him critical acclaim. Tracks like “Sugar Hill” and “Gimme Yours” featuring Nas, highlighted his storytelling abilities and his ability to paint vivid pictures with his lyrics.

What set AZ apart was his unique perspective and introspective approach to his music. He delved into personal experiences, street life, and the challenges of urban environments, while also exploring deeper themes of self-reflection and personal growth. His ability to balance street narratives with introspection gave his music a distinct flavor and resonated with fans who appreciated his lyrical complexity.

AZ continued to release albums throughout his career, maintaining a consistent level of quality and lyrical prowess. Projects such as “Pieces of a Man” (1998), “Aziatic” (2002), and “Undeniable” (2008) showcased his growth as an artist while staying true to his artistic vision. His albums often featured collaborations with notable artists and producers, including Nas, DJ Premier, and Dr. Dre, further enhancing his credibility in the hip-hop community.

While AZ’s commercial success may not have matched the level of his lyrical talent, he has garnered a dedicated fan base and earned the respect of his peers. His contributions to hip-hop, particularly in the realm of lyricism and storytelling, have solidified his position as one of the genre’s most underrated and underappreciated artists.

AZ’s influence extends beyond his solo work. His collaborations, most notably with Nas, have been highly regarded, and he has made appearances on tracks by other renowned artists, further showcasing his lyrical prowess and versatility.

Overall, AZ’s career is marked by his exceptional lyricism, introspective storytelling, and unwavering dedication to his craft. He remains a respected figure in the rap industry, revered for his contributions to the art form and his ability to captivate listeners with his thought-provoking rhymes.

The Pharcyde: Playful Lyrics and Jazzy, Alternative Beats

This Los Angeles-based group was known for their playful lyrics and jazzy, alternative beats. Their 1992 debut album “Bizarre Ride II the Pharcyde” was critically acclaimed but didn’t achieve the same commercial success as other West Coast hip-hop releases of the time.

The Pharcyde is a rap group that emerged from the West Coast hip-hop scene in the early 1990s. Comprised of members Fatlip (Derrick Stewart), Slimkid3 (Trevant Hardson), Imani (Emandu Wilcox), and Bootie Brown (Romye Robinson), the group is known for their playful lyrics, innovative flows, and jazzy, alternative beats.

The Pharcyde gained popularity with their debut album, “Bizarre Ride II the Pharcyde,” released in 1992. The album showcased their unique style, blending humorous and introspective lyrics with soulful, laid-back production. Tracks like “Passin’ Me By,” “Ya Mama,” and “Otha Fish” became iconic hits, characterized by their witty wordplay, catchy hooks, and the group’s ability to effortlessly switch flows.

What set The Pharcyde apart was their unconventional approach to rap music. They embraced a more lighthearted and humorous tone, injecting a sense of fun and playfulness into their songs. At the same time, they tackled personal experiences, social commentary, and self-reflection, displaying depth and vulnerability in their lyricism.

In addition to their lyrical prowess, The Pharcyde’s production was equally influential. They worked closely with producers J-Swift and Jay Dee (later known as J Dilla), who crafted the group’s signature sound. Their beats featured elements of jazz, funk, and soul, creating a distinctive musical backdrop for the group’s rhymes.

The Pharcyde’s second album, “Labcabincalifornia,” released in 1995, showcased their growth as artists. While still maintaining their playful style, the album delved into more introspective themes and showcased their lyrical versatility. Despite some lineup changes within the group, their chemistry and creativity remained intact, and the album received critical acclaim.

Throughout their career, The Pharcyde faced both commercial success and challenges. They continued to release albums, including “Plain Rap” (2000) and “Humboldt Beginnings” (2004), but experienced shifts in their lineup and label issues that impacted their overall visibility and mainstream success. Nevertheless, their influence on the alternative hip-hop movement and their contribution to shaping the West Coast sound cannot be overstated.

The Pharcyde’s impact extends beyond their own music. They have influenced a generation of artists with their unique style and paved the way for the blending of alternative and mainstream rap. Their contributions to the art form continue to be celebrated, and their music remains beloved by fans of all ages, serving as a testament to their enduring legacy in hip-hop.

Kool G Rap: Intricate Rhymes and Gritty Storytelling

This Queens-based rapper was known for his intricate rhymes and gritty storytelling. His 1995 album “4, 5, 6” featured collaborations with Nas and MF DOOM but didn’t achieve commercial success, despite its lyrical complexity and innovative production.

Kool G Rap, born as Nathaniel Thomas Wilson on July 20, 1968, is an influential rapper from Queens, New York. He is recognized as one of the pioneers of mafioso rap and is renowned for his intricate rhymes, gritty storytelling, and innovative lyricism.

Kool G Rap emerged in the mid-1980s as a member of the rap group Kool G Rap & DJ Polo, alongside DJ Polo (Robert Lee). The duo released several critically acclaimed albums, including “Road to the Riches” (1989) and “Wanted: Dead or Alive” (1990). These albums showcased Kool G Rap’s exceptional storytelling abilities, vividly painting narratives of street life, crime, and the complexities of urban environments.

Kool G Rap’s lyrical style was characterized by his rapid-fire delivery, complex rhyme schemes, and vivid imagery. He displayed a masterful command of language and a knack for crafting intricate verses filled with multisyllabic rhymes and internal rhyming patterns. His lyrical complexity and technical prowess set him apart as one of the most skilled rappers of his time.

In addition to his lyrical abilities, Kool G Rap’s content and subject matter were distinct. He often rapped from the perspective of a street hustler, seamlessly blending detailed storytelling with gritty realism. His lyrics depicted the harsh realities of life in the streets, examining themes such as crime, violence, and the pursuit of wealth. Kool G Rap’s mafioso-inspired narratives paved the way for future artists in the subgenre, influencing the likes of Nas, Jay-Z, and Raekwon.

Kool G Rap’s impact extended beyond his solo and collaborative work. He is widely regarded as a significant influence on subsequent generations of rappers, particularly in the realm of lyricism. Many artists have cited him as a major inspiration, appreciating his technical skills and the depth of his storytelling. His contributions to hip-hop have solidified his status as a legend and an innovator in the genre.

Throughout his career, Kool G Rap has continued to release music, with notable albums such as “4, 5, 6” (1995), “Roots of Evil” (1998), and “The Giancana Story” (2002). He has collaborated with numerous artists and has remained active, consistently delivering his distinct brand of hardcore lyricism.

Kool G Rap’s impact on hip-hop cannot be overstated. His lyrical prowess, storytelling abilities, and influential style have solidified his place in the pantheon of rap legends. He continues to be respected and revered by fans and fellow artists alike for his contributions to the art form.

Casual: Introspective Lyrics and Unique Flow

This Oakland-based rapper was part of the Hieroglyphics crew and known for his introspective lyrics and unique flow. His 1994 debut album “Fear Itself” was critically acclaimed but didn’t achieve the same commercial success as other West Coast hip-hop releases of the time.

Casual, born as Jon Owens on December 19, 1975, is an American rapper hailing from Oakland, California. He is known for his introspective lyrics, unique flow, and affiliation with the Hieroglyphics crew, a collective of underground hip-hop artists.

Casual emerged in the early 1990s as part of the vibrant West Coast hip-hop scene. He gained recognition with his debut album, “Fear Itself,” released in 1994. The album showcased Casual’s lyrical dexterity, as he delivered introspective and thought-provoking verses over jazz-infused beats. With tracks like “That’s How It Is” and “Me-O-Mi-O,” Casual established himself as a talented lyricist with a distinctive style.

One of Casual’s notable strengths is his unconventional flow. He possesses a rhythmic and unpredictable delivery, often employing intricate rhyme schemes and wordplay. His ability to manipulate words and create complex patterns within his verses has earned him respect among hip-hop enthusiasts and fellow artists.

As a member of the Hieroglyphics crew, Casual collaborated with other talented artists within the collective, including Del the Funky Homosapien, Souls of Mischief, and Pep Love. The Hieroglyphics crew played a significant role in shaping the alternative hip-hop movement in the Bay Area and beyond, emphasizing creativity, individuality, and lyrical skill.

In addition to his solo work, Casual has contributed to various group projects and collaborations. He has released albums such as “He Think He Raw” (2001) and “The Hierophant” (2011), further showcasing his versatility and artistic growth. Casual’s music often delves into personal experiences, social commentary, and philosophical themes, reflecting his introspective nature and thought-provoking approach to rap.

Casual’s influence extends beyond his musical contributions. His unique style and commitment to artistic integrity have inspired a generation of independent and underground rappers. His impact on the West Coast hip-hop scene, particularly in the Bay Area, cannot be understated.

Despite being less commercially recognized than some of his mainstream counterparts, Casual’s loyal fan base appreciates his creativity, lyricism, and authenticity. He continues to release music independently and perform live, staying true to his underground roots and maintaining his reputation as an influential figure in the world of alternative hip-hop.

Casual’s contributions to the art of rap, both as a solo artist and as part of the Hieroglyphics crew, have solidified his status as a respected and influential rapper. His unique flow, introspective lyrics, and dedication to his craft have made him a standout figure in the underground hip-hop scene.

Goodie Mob: Socially Conscious Lyrics and Soulful, Southern-influenced Beats

This Atlanta-based group was known for their socially conscious lyrics and soulful, Southern-influenced beats. Their 1995 debut album “Soul Food” was critically acclaimed but didn’t achieve the same commercial success as other Southern hip-hop releases of the time.

The Goodie Mob is a rap group from Atlanta, Georgia, known for their socially conscious lyrics and soulful, Southern-influenced beats. The group consists of members Cee-Lo Green, Big Gipp, Khujo, and T-Mo.

Formed in 1991, the Goodie Mob gained prominence as part of the Dungeon Family, a collective of artists that also included OutKast and Organized Noize. They made their debut appearance on OutKast’s album “Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik” in 1994, contributing to the track “Git Up, Git Out.” This collaboration set the stage for their own debut album, “Soul Food,” released in 1995.

“Soul Food” established the Goodie Mob as a force to be reckoned with in the Southern hip-hop scene. The album’s socially conscious themes, introspective lyrics, and soulful production resonated with listeners. Tracks like “Cell Therapy” and the title track “Soul Food” showcased their unique blend of thought-provoking lyrics and infectious hooks. The album received critical acclaim and is regarded as a classic in Southern hip-hop.

The Goodie Mob continued to release music, exploring a range of topics and musical styles. Their follow-up album, “Still Standing,” was released in 1998 and further solidified their reputation for delivering meaningful messages with a Southern flavor. The album featured hits like “Black Ice (Sky High)” and “They Don’t Dance No Mo’.”

After a hiatus, the Goodie Mob reunited and released the album “One Monkey Don’t Stop No Show” in 2004. They continued to release projects, including “Age Against the Machine” in 2013 and “Survival Kit” in 2020, showcasing their growth and evolution as a group while staying true to their roots.

Throughout their career, the Goodie Mob has addressed social issues, political themes, and personal struggles in their music. They have been praised for their lyrical depth, addressing topics such as racism, poverty, and spirituality. Their ability to blend introspection with catchy hooks and soulful production has earned them a dedicated fan base and critical acclaim.

As individual artists, members of the Goodie Mob have also achieved success. Cee-Lo Green, in particular, went on to have a successful solo career and gained international recognition for his hit single “Crazy” as part of the duo Gnarls Barkley.

The Goodie Mob’s impact on the rap scene extends beyond their music. They played a significant role in putting Atlanta’s hip-hop scene on the map, influencing subsequent generations of Southern rappers. Their dedication to social commentary and their unique sound have solidified their status as influential figures in hip-hop, particularly within the Southern rap genre.

The Roots: Live Instrumentation and Socially Conscious Lyrics

This Philadelphia-based group was known for their live instrumentation and socially conscious lyrics. Their 1995 album “Do You Want More?!!!??!” was critically acclaimed but didn’t achieve mainstream success until later in their career.

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The Roots are a renowned American rap group formed in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in 1987. The group is widely recognized for their live instrumentation, exceptional musicianship, and thought-provoking lyrics. They are often hailed as one of the greatest and most influential rap acts of all time.

The Roots initially formed as an underground collective, with founding members Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson (drums) and Tariq “Black Thought” Trotter (MC) at the forefront. The group’s lineup has evolved over the years but has consistently maintained a talented roster of musicians.

Their debut album, “Organix,” was independently released in 1993, showcasing their fusion of rap, jazz, and soul influences. However, it was their major-label debut, “Do You Want More?!!!??!” in 1995 that gained them critical acclaim and a dedicated following. The album’s live instrumentation and introspective lyrics set them apart from the prevailing rap trends of the time.

The Roots’ subsequent albums further solidified their unique sound and reputation. “Illadelph Halflife” (1996) explored more political and social themes, while “Things Fall Apart” (1999) became their breakthrough record. The latter featured the hit single “You Got Me” with Erykah Badu and won them a Grammy Award for Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group.

Throughout their discography, The Roots have collaborated with a wide range of artists from various genres, including D’Angelo, Jill Scott, Common, and John Legend. Their versatility and ability to seamlessly blend rap with other musical styles have earned them praise and admiration from both critics and fans.

Aside from their music, The Roots gained mainstream recognition through their involvement as the house band for “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon” and its successor, “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.” This daily exposure on national television introduced their talents to a wider audience and showcased their ability to adapt to different musical styles and collaborate with numerous guest artists.

The Roots’ lyrics often touch upon social issues, personal reflections, and philosophical musings. Their songs tackle topics such as racial inequality, politics, love, and self-discovery. They consistently challenge the conventions of mainstream rap and provide insightful commentary on the world around them.

With their extensive discography and live performances that showcase their musical prowess, The Roots have earned a reputation as a dynamic and engaging live act. Their annual music festival, “Roots Picnic,” has become a popular event, attracting both established and up-and-coming artists.

The Roots’ influence extends far beyond their own music. They have paved the way for live rap bands and influenced a generation of artists who appreciate their dedication to musicianship and their commitment to pushing the boundaries of hip-hop.

Overall, The Roots’ legacy in hip-hop is characterized by their innovative approach, insightful lyrics, and commitment to live instrumentation. They continue to release music and tour, staying true to their artistic vision while leaving an indelible mark on the rap genre.

In conclusion,

several factors contributed to the underrated status of these 90s rappers. Lack of promotion from record labels, timing and competition in the industry, unique musical styles that didn’t conform to mainstream trends, and public reception all played a role. The term “underrated” is subjective, and while these rappers may not have achieved significant commercial success at the time, they have since gained recognition and appreciation for their contributions to the genre.

The Beatnuts, Jeru the Damaja, Smif-N-Wessun, Group Home, AZ, and The Pharcyde all showcased their distinctive styles and lyrical prowess, leaving a lasting impact on the hip-hop landscape. Despite their underrated status, their music continues to resonate with dedicated fans, and they remain influential figures in the history of hip-hop.

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There could be several factors that contributed to certain 90s rappers being underrated. Here are a few possible reasons:

Lack of promotion: In the 90s, record labels played a significant role in promoting artists and their music. If a rapper was not backed by a major label or did not receive sufficient promotion from their label, it could have hindered their success and led to them being underrated.

Timing: The 90s was a decade that saw the emergence of several iconic rap groups and solo artists. With so much competition in the market, some talented rappers may have been overlooked due to timing or simply being overshadowed by bigger names.

Musical style: Rap music underwent several changes and evolution in the 90s, with various sub-genres emerging. Some rappers may have had a unique style that did not fit into the mainstream trends or was ahead of its time, which could have caused them to be underrated at the time.

Public reception: Ultimately, the success of any artist depends on the public reception to their music. Even if a rapper had the talent and potential, if their music did not resonate with the audience, it could have contributed to them being underrated.

It’s worth noting that the term “underrated” is subjective, and what one person may consider underrated, another may not. Additionally, some rappers who may have been underrated in the 90s have since gained recognition and appreciation for their contributions to the genre.

The Beatnuts: This Queens-based duo made up of JuJu and Psycho Les were known for their Latin-infused beats and humorous lyrics. Their 1993 debut album “Intoxicated Demons” and subsequent releases, such as “Stone Crazy” (1997) and “A Musical Massacre” (1999), were critically acclaimed but didn’t achieve mainstream success.

Jeru the Damaja: This Brooklyn-based rapper was known for his socially conscious lyrics and laid-back flow. His 1994 debut album “The Sun Rises in the East” was critically acclaimed but didn’t achieve commercial success, despite its introspective themes and gritty production.

Smif-N-Wessun: This Brooklyn-based duo made up of Tek and Steele were known for their hardcore lyrics and gritty beats. Their 1995 debut album “Dah Shinin” was critically acclaimed but didn’t achieve commercial success, despite collaborations with Wu-Tang Clan members RZA and Method Man.

Group Home: This Queens-based duo made up of Lil’ Dap and Melachi the Nutcracker were protégés of Gang Starr’s DJ Premier. Their 1995 debut album “Livin’ Proof” featured DJ Premier’s signature production and the duo’s introspective lyrics, but it was largely overlooked by mainstream audiences.

AZ: This Brooklyn-based rapper was known for his intricate wordplay and smooth flow. His 1995 debut album “Doe or Die” was critically acclaimed but didn’t achieve the same commercial success as other East Coast hip-hop releases that year.

The Pharcyde: This Los Angeles-based group was known for their playful lyrics and jazzy, alternative beats. Their 1992 debut album “Bizarre Ride II the Pharcyde” was critically acclaimed but didn’t achieve the same commercial success as other West Coast hip-hop releases of the time.

Kool G Rap: This Queens-based rapper was known for his intricate rhymes and gritty storytelling. His 1995 album “4, 5, 6” featured collaborations with Nas and MF DOOM but didn’t achieve commercial success, despite its lyrical complexity and innovative production.

Casual: This Oakland-based rapper was part of the Hieroglyphics crew and known for his introspective lyrics and unique flow. His 1994 debut album “Fear Itself” was critically acclaimed but didn’t achieve the same commercial success as other West Coast hip-hop releases of the time.

Goodie Mob: This Atlanta-based group was known for their socially conscious lyrics and soulful, Southern-influenced beats. Their 1995 debut album “Soul Food” was critically acclaimed but didn’t achieve the same commercial success as other Southern hip-hop releases of the time.

The Roots: This Philadelphia-based group was known for their live instrumentation and socially conscious lyrics. Their 1995 album “Do You Want More?!!!??!” was critically acclaimed but didn’t achieve mainstream success until later in their career.

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