Homeboy Sandman’s Guide to the Best Underground Rappers in NYC Right Now

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The tail-end of 2012 has seen a spree of inspiring rap releases sprouting up from New York City’s underground circuit: Action Bronson, Sean Price and Long Island native Roc Marciano dropped a triumvirate of excellent long-players while the year’s set to end with a fresh mixtape from Joey Bada$$’s Pro Era crew. Alongside that fine flurry came Homeboy Sandman‘s First of a Living Breed, which saw the erstwhile subterranean spitter fulfilling his potential and crafting a stellar album. So with a canny artist-oriented ear to the ground, here’s Homeboy Sandman’s picks for the next wave of underground rap talent to start obsessing over right now.

1. YC the Cynic

Direct from the birthplace of hip-hop, the Bronx-based YC is one of hip-hop’s brightest young phenoms. This cat bends and twists words all types of mythical ways. He’s flying under-the-radar right now but has already got a cult following in NYC. I was at his Good Morning Midnight release party and it was packed wall to wall with people more into emcees than famous people. I’ve not come across a talent like this kid in all my time listening to hip-hop and he’s got a style all his own. He makes that hard ish sound so heavenly.

2. I Am Many

Formerly known as Many Styles and a champion of New York City’s blood-thirsty golden-era battle scene (where geniuses like him and C Rayz Walz ruled with an iron fist), I Am Many is one of the most phenomenal showmen you’ll find in any genre. His live show is second to none, complete with mask props and a dominatrix. His rhymes are saturated with the essence of NYC; his bars are a mighty call for individuality, innovation, and non-conformity. Gritty and smart, I Am Many is the best that NYC has to offer.

3. Sene

The Brooklyknight, the poet, the griot, the wiseman — this cat is cool. Effortless is a word that’s thrown around a lot and often times inappropriately, but Sene’s delivery is the definition of it — it sounds like jazz. You listen to him and you’re like, “How does he make something so dirty sound so elegant?” Whether Sene is solo or combining with the band The Clubhouse to form Recess, time after time this cat is creating the type of art and the type of music that you don’t have to be a hip-hop fan to enjoy — but for a hip-hop fan it’s just what the doctor ordered.

4. Soul Khan

Soul Khan has a lot of dope music, and I wanted to avoid his video with the superhero schtick because I knew it would lead to Eminem comparisons — they’re similar only in skin tone, not at all in sound or demeanor — but these are some of my favorite bars from any rapper in recent times and I just couldn’t help myself.

5. Gob Goblin

There’s always gonna be cats rapping about shooting people — all I ask is that the cats are dope. At least be like, “I’ma have to launch a skyrocket through your eye socket.” At least be like, “If you walk around like it can’t happen/ I’ma buck something at you ’til I catch a hand spasm.” In Queens everybody knows Gob as the dude who’s more concerned with putting other people on than himself, so he’s only got one video out from some song he wrote back when dinosaurs walked the Earth when he was already nice but not even as nice as he is now. Please, Gob, drop some ish and show these cats that you can be talented and be street at the same time.

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