Rapper Curren$y performs onstage at the Rolling Loud Festival in San Bernardino, California.
Source: Photo by Scott Dudelson/Getty Images

Underground Legends: 6 Independent Rappers Who Opted Out of a Record Deal

Bad record deals come a dime a dozen in the rap game — that's exactly why these unsigned rap artists optened out of a deal altogether.


Oct. 23 2023, Published 5:14 p.m. ET

Discover Proudly Amplifies Diverse Voices

Signing a record deal has long been the traditional path to success for up-and-coming artists. But there is an emerging sect of rappers who are breaking the mold, rejecting the allure of record labels and going independent.

These rappers have proven that artistic integrity and creative control can lead to remarkable success. Keep reading to find out more about the unsigned underground legends who broke all of the rules and reinvented the rap game.

Tobe Nwigwe: A Self-Made Sensation

tobe and fat nwigwe grillz
Source: Ian West/PA Images via Getty Images

Tobe Nwigwe shows off his grills.

Texas-born Tobe Nwigwe is a prime example of what an unsigned artist can achieve.

Tobe's music is characterized by its thought-provoking lyrics, catchy beats, and captivating visuals. He and his wife, Fat Nwigwe, produce most of his music videos, which showcases their commitment to artistic control.

Article continues below advertisement

What makes Tobe stand out is his independent approach to music distribution. He uses social media platforms, especially Instagram, along with a grassroots marketing strategy to deliver content directly to his audience.

It's no wonder why he has such a rapidly growing fan base.

Tech N9ne: The Underground Legend

Rap veteran Tech N9ne, born Aaron Dontez Yates, has been a trailblazer in the underground hip-hop scene for over two decades. Hailing from Kansas City, Tech N9ne founded his independent record label, Strange Music, in 1999.

Article continues below advertisement

This move allowed him to maintain creative control and ownership of his music. Thanks to Tech N9ne's unique, rapid-fire style and genre-blurring approach to music, he's grown a following that transcends generations.

Chance the Rapper: Acid Rap Extraordinaire

chance the rapper on stage microphone
Source: Debra L Rothenberg/Getty Images

Chance the Rapper performs on stage.

Chance the Rapper, born Chancelor Johnathan Bennett, is a remarkable figure in the world of hip-hop with a one of a kind sound.

The Chicago rapper's unyielding commitment to independence has allowed him to break barriers and create a lane that is uniquely his own.

Article continues below advertisement

Curren$y: The Mixtape Legend

Curren$y was affiliated with major labels like Cash Money and No Limit Records before he founded his label, Jet Life.

Born Shante Scott Franklin, the New Orleans native is celebrated for his laid-back flow, intricate wordplay, and vivid storytelling.

What sets Curren$y apart is his spectacular output of mixtapes and albums. His discography includes more than 60 projects to date.

Article continues below advertisement

LaRussell: The Internet Phenom

Source: Photo by Steve Jennings/Getty Images

Larussell performs on Day 1 of the 2023 Sol Blume Festival at Discovery Park.

LaRussell is a relatively new face in the world of rap, but the rapper's witty lyrics and engaging social media presence prove that he's next up.

The rapper is a prime example of what happens when artists are given more creative freedom.

He uses platforms like TikTok and SoundCloud to connect with fans on the regular which makes his music seem that much more relatable.

Article continues below advertisement

Troy Ave: Brooklyn's Finest

Troy Ave, born Roland Collins, is a Brooklyn-based rapper who has made a name for himself through sheer hustle and determination.

Despite facing controversy and legal challenges, Troy Ave has managed to build a substantial following who appreciates his raw and unfiltered storytelling.

His ability to navigate the challenges of the industry without major label backing is a testament to his resilience.

The author’s content and opinions have not been pre-reviewed, approved or endorsed by Discover.

It’s not just a magazine. It’s a lifestyle!

Sign up for our newsletter for early access to content, special promotions and giveaways.

Dope content. No spam. We promise.

More from Bleu Mag

Opt-out of personalized ads

© Copyright 2024 Bleu Mag. Bleu Mag is a registered trademark. All Rights Reserved. People may receive compensation for some links to products and services on this website. Offers may be subject to change without notice.