Best Alternative Hip Hop

Alternative Hip Hop began to sprout up in the late 80s and early 90s, during the Golden Age of Hip Hop. Somewhat of a divergence from the party songs and the gangsterism, Alternative Hip Hop represented the nerds and geeks, the hippie kids, the fringe of the fringe.

The uniqueness and talent was undeniable. Someone had to innovate before Rap became stagnant. Alternative Hip Hop artists filled this need for innovation.

Here we present some of the best of Alternative Hip Hop.

Q-Tip from A Tribe Called QUEST. By docmonstereyes (it’s from Flickr) [CC-BY-2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

De La Soul

De La Soul means from the soul and this fact you can deny. When it comes to bein’ De La, it’s just me, myself and I. That’s all De La. Unique, not afraid to be themselves, no posturing, no front. Innovators of jazz-infused Hip Hop, these guys captured the scene in the early days of Alternative Hip Hop!

Tribe Called Quest

Q-Tip’s smooth delivery, mellow beats, the adventures of the outcasts, that be the Tribe. True innovators like De La, best of Alternative Hip Hop. Perpetual outsiders, perpetual adventurers. The Tribe. Properly jazzy, properly mellow, and outside the norm.

Lupe Fiasco

Riding skate boards, practicing martial arts, father was politically and socially conscious and raised him to be; that would be Lupe. His songs are beyond the norm, reflecting the struggles of the intelligent outcast, and the one who refuses to dumb it down.

Lupe has no shortage of political statements and socially-conscious lyrics.

Das Racist

Nonsensical, seemingly spontaneous, but tending to make major statements anyway, Das Racist is some kind of whacky stuff. Pure entertainment and entertaining they are. Can’t get enough.

Don’t think, just listen.


Relationships, everyday struggles, parties at the club; Murs delves into the facts and emotions we all can relate to with a down-to-Earth delivery and unique style.

This has been just a sampling of the best of Alternative Hip Hop. The point is they are outside of the norm of Hip Hop, delivering messages that are deep, heart-felt, conscious. It’s a good relief from the usual bling and posturing of Hip Hop and made for those also who are unique and outside the norm.

Featured Image: Posdnuos or Plug 2 from De La Soul. By Benoît Derrier from Auxerre, France (De La Soul @ Marsatac 2008  Uploaded by A Corte) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons



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  1. Sally Reply

    This is good stuff! I like seeing the different alternative hip hop artists over time. I think this piece is a good place to start if you want to learn about this important, ever-relevant, cultural movement. 🙂

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