Tech N9ne Estevan Oriol

Tech N9ne knows about being underrated. The Kansas City rapper has been delivering mind-blowing rhymes and flows since the mid ’90s, but he didn’t put out his major-label debut album, “Anghellic,” until 2001.

Even then, Tech was been largely shunned by the mainstream for the next several years thanks in part to his appearance (he uses white facepaint when performing and he used to have red spiked hair). Yet that hasn’t stopped Tech from building his Strange Music into an independent rap powerhouse.

He’s also become one of rap’s biggest, most consistent concert draws due to his nonstop touring regimen and his status in the game has been steadily growing, as evidenced by Lil Wayne having Tech appear on “Tha Carter IV.”

As he prepares for the June 7 release of his new album, “All 6’s And 7’s,” Tech N9ne sat down with us to detail his Top 5 Underrated Rappers, an issue close to his heart.

5. Brotha Lynch Hung

“Brotha Lynch Hung is one of the dopest brothers I’ve heard when it come to flipping rhymes or to telling stories, creating stories. I sit there and I think, ‘How did he know to say that word right there?’ The way he rhymes his words is totally different than I’ve ever heard and totally different than I’ve ever done, the way he does his rhyme flows and everything.

I signed him to Strange Music because I wanted people to know that he’s one of the top lyricists. I put him up there with Eminem. I did and I still do. I know Eminem has to know about him.

When Lynch did “Dinner And A Movie,” I just wanted people to listen, to listen to how he raps. When Lynch sent me back his verse for “My World,” at that moment, I said to [my business partner Travis O’Guin], ‘We’ve got to sign this dude.’ I want the best people on my team.”

4. Kool G. Rap

“I think Kool G. Rap is timeless. I think if he put out something right now, that people would flock to it. I think he’s way underrated. He’s a lyricist.

When I speak of vampires, artists that have been here since Day One, since hip-hop really started, Kool G. Rap is one of them. He’s been in every era. I haven’t heard him lately and I don’t know what he’s doing, but whenever he gets on something he murders it. Kool G. Rap is a vampire. He lives forever.”

3. Pharaohe Monch

“I think people know Pharoahe Monch is incredible. Maybe they don’t, but he’s had hits and everything. He’s a Godly MC. He’s somebody that people need to hear a lot of. He’s a breath of fresh air.

I just heard ‘Clap’ on YouTube. It’s so beautiful, talking about police brutality. He’s talking about shit. He’s a lyricist. I tried to get him on my new “All 6’s And 7’s” album, but time didn’t permit.

I tried to get him to do ‘This Is Hip-Hop,’ with me and Lynch. I talked to him on the phone and everything. I want to work with cats that people should hear more of. He puts thought into his lyrics and I love that. ”

2. Crooked I

“I think he’s been one for a long time. Maybe he’s about to get his just due with Slaughterhouse. On that ‘2.0 Boys,’ he murdered everybody, to me, with his rhyme schemes and how he was just flipping and rhyming everything. It was wonderful.

Crooked I has always been captivating, ever since I met him during the Wake Up Show, through Sway and King Tech. I think he’s way underrated. I think people should have heard him a long time ago and latched on to it. If he would have truly did the Death Row thing and had a fair run, he would have had a gang of fans.

I wish him the best of success with Slaughterhouse and I hope it puts him in a beautiful position because he deserves it. He should have millions of fans. He’s not just a rapper’s rapper. He can rap about shit.”

1. Chino XL

“He’s a suburb lyricist, man. He’s a really smart guy. He could be a professor. I think he knew it. On an ad for “Here To Save You All,” he was in all white on a beach. Anybody that can flow like that has to have a god complex. I got one. I see him. I hear him. That’s my brother.

I think more people should listen. I think he should have a gang of fans. He’s got a perfect voice, everything. Now they say he’s built like Arnold Schwarzenegger.

People like that need to be hear more. These intricate lyricists, I think they have a place to where they want to listen because that’s how my shit is being built. I think he should be right there with me.”

For more from Soren Baker follow him on Twitter: @SorenBaker

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