When hip-hop was born in New York City almost half a century ago, the gatekeepers of the music industry were radio DJs and station executives. Today, like much of the music landscape, the role of curator has moved online. Streaming playlists have almost completely replaced radio as the way that people enjoy and discover music. And for now at least, Spotify is one of the platforms where those playlists matter most.
Which is why it’s long overdue for Ok-Tho to have our own set of editorial curated, hand picked Undrground Hip-hop Spotify playlists. We’ve got some great tunes to share, check out the new Ok-Tho Spotify page by clicking that big black button below.
Since day one, we’ve been committed to showcasing underground music and making indie hip-hop more accessible. We’ll keep posting tons of great new music on Ok-Tho’s front page, but moving forward, we’ll also be putting a focus on building and spreading quality independent rap Spotify playlists under our site’s curation umbrella.
To launch, we’ll be dropping three underground hip-hop themed playlists.
“Today’s Best Underground Hip-hop World Wide” will start as a 20 track playlist, showcasing some of the best independent and underground rap from all over the world. “California Underground Hip-hop Now” will highlight artists in the Golden State making classic contemporary West Coast music. “New York City Underground Hip-hop Now” will hone in on the bustling indie scene spread across the greater five boroughs.
Generally, we’ll be sticking to our roots and focusing on the upcoming hip-hop that makes the underground so special, but don’t be surprised if some “bigger” mainstream tracks with the right vibe land in rotation. Getting started, we’ll be switching up our “Today’s Best” underground playlist every week and the California hip-hop and New York City hip-hop playlists twice a month, alternating our posting to deliver two new playlists every week.
Without further ado, here’s our first playlists, shining light on New York City and California hip-hop today. Our first “Today’s Best” worldwide general hip-hop playlist will be dropping soon.
Based out of Los Angeles, Alien Fam are TeamBackPack OGs and Cali underground hip-hop staples. “All I Get” is a catchy laid back tune from their latest, “Alien Family 2.”
“Moon Cry,” Ash Riser, Papo, Mike G
You probably heard Ash’s voice for the first time on a Kendrick hook, but Riser’s solo music is so damn endearing, it’ll earn it’s place right next to Dot’s when the history books are written. “Mooncry” features hot hot hot verses from Mike G and Papo to keep Ash’s rap hungry fans stuffed full of bars.
If last year they didn’t even like the bay, these two hometown heroes have done a whole hell of a lot to change that. P-lo continues his hot streak with “Always,” a Dad assisted sleeper favorite from his recent project “More Than Anything” with some next level flows and harmonies from both California underground hip-hop favorites.
“Like You,” Emoney
Emoney is a piece of rap history; he was on the first ever TeamBackPack cypher, and he hasn’t stopped rhyming at an elite level ever since. But on this poppy anthem, Money adds a ton of melodic sensibility to the uniquely realist perspective we all love him for, with some of his best songwriting and tightest lyrics in a minute.
Sweatshop & Owl Green blend traditional hip-hop influences with an authentic Bay Area indie rap spin. “Those Guys” is the next single to receive a video treatment off of their latest project, “Spring Cleaning II.”
“King of Everything,” UnLearn the World
No one brings the best of San Francisco and New York City together quite like the Bay’s most deadly cypher veteran, the always motivational Unlearn the World. His new single “King of Everything” has got a plethora of super excellent underground rap bars to dissect.
“Socks On,” J. Lately
With a new album slotted for 9/22, the Bay Area’s J. Lately has been dropping a string of hot tracks on Spotify. “Sock On” isn’t his most recent single, but it is quite possibly the swaggiest, with all of the wordplay and lyricism that have made J. Lately a California underground hip-hop favorite for years.
The low-key hero on this track is producer Chase Moore, but yo, damn, that scheme throughout from Saht is one of the hardest things out of Southern California since N.W.A. was still fresh on the scene. Roll up and smash that replay button on the West Coast underground legend Sahtyre’s “Grammy” from his super hot “Cassidy Howell” project.
“Night Night,” Trizz
Man, will Trizz ever stop growing? For diehard fans of Baby Ripgut, that question’s got an obvious answer. For anyone still sleeping, his latest single “Night Night” knocks so hard, it proves why it’ll be damn near impossible for the big players in the rap industry to keep ignoring Trizz for much longer.
“Ride Around,” Adam Vida, Promnite
San Francisco independent hip-hop fans might know Adam Vida as A-1, but under his new moniker Adam is making a brand of music that no one’s heard before. The chorus of “Ride Around” has so much hit potential, it’ll be fun to see where Vida ends up in the next few years.
New York City Underground Hip-hop Now
“Chris Time Zone,” Chris Rivers
Most underground heads know Chris Rivers in Big Pun’s son, but very few could have predicted just how amazing the young rapper’s debut would turn out. “Chris Time Zone” is a smooth cut from the standout three part “Time Zone” series, included on Chris’s brand new Delorean.
“While You Were Sleeping,” TruthCity
Truth’s powerful album “While You Were Sleeping” is packed full of music that’ll make you want to kick some ass, and no track captures that motivational intensity quite like the title joint. Hit the replay on this one and you’ll be singing along to the chorus as soon as it drops.
There are too many tracks about getting drunk to count, but Brooklish’s “Hennessy” off of the psychedelic New Cinema II still rings true as authentic and original. Especially if you love the henn, this’ll get you moving.
“Lawn Chair,” Kota the Friend
Thanks to equal parts authenticity and amazing music, Kota the Friend has the kinds of fans that’ll do anything to see him winning. His single “Lawn Chair” is a perfect example of why that’s the case, and why he’s got a long career to come.
Special Thanks to all my Friends below, Paloma Beach is nothing without you🙏🏼🙏🏼🙏🏼 @maggsmcvey @shy_ferguson @alittlevavavoom @pia_mone @keepitcleeen @ecm_lp @emmacbanks @perstephon3 @ranelldominique @britznbeatz @grittyvibes @danshotit @rasheedkalif @blamethelabel @the.plug416 @emperorbrigante @statikselekt @thekarliehustle @oldmanebro @riggysmallz @therapfest @lizzyashmusic @vokalizt @_kylahhh @jadahtaughtya @brandyg___ @vpeso @moegzz @chrisjamelnyc @hamthekid @sharelljeffrey @kotathefriend_daily @kotathefrienddaily @kotathefriendposts @kotathefanpage
Flatbush can rock a smokey, vibey party jam with the best of them, but on tracks like “Aries” it’s refreshing to see the NYC group get serious with their content matter. While still absolutely killing it, of course.
“Kings & Queens,” Kemba
Ever since Kendrick invited Kemba on stage, the long-time rhymer has been getting some much deserved attention. “Kings & Queens” is another one that will put goosebumps on your arm if you’re a lover of deep material.
“On Me,” Crimdella
Crimdella’s next project is hopefully right around the corner, but the Harlem, New York City rapper is still dropping hot visuals from last year’s excellent “Bury Me In Gold Vol. 1.” His latest single “On Me” has heaps of the kind of story telling that underground New York City hip-hop is known for, Black Zeus style.
“Marco Made Me Do It,” Marlon Craft
“The Tunnel’s End” is a quintessential New York City hip-hip album, with plenty of tracks that’ll make your head nod til your neck’s sore. When he pairs up with Marco Polo on “Marco Made Me Do It,” it’s easy to see how Marlon Craft has asserted himself as one of the preeminent voices in his city.
“Familiar Faces,” Siimba Lives Long
There are so many smooth and unique jams on Siimba’s new Zemenay’s Geminii that it was hard to pick just one to highlight. But “Familiar Faces” serves as a great introduction to the deep songwriting and one-of-a-kind instrumentation that makes Siimba stand out.
“Oswin Benjamin Time Zone,” Oswin Benjamin
The third installment on Chris Rivers’ “Time Zone” series from Delorean, “Oswin Benjamin Timezone” features Oswin absolutely snapping. The bars here are dense, but the arrangement is so soulful that anyone can find something to love about this perfectly New York City underground hip-hop cut.
Thanks for tuning in, and come back next week for indie rap Spotify playlists highlighting some of the best underground hip-hop from California, New York City, and the world.
Note: Curation for playlists will be mostly handled by Cassidy Kakin. Submissions for future spotlighting can be made on Twitter, tag us @OkThoMag and Cassidy @cassiuscorner.