It’s been a stunning year in hip-hop. Old head Jay-Z returned to stage with a massive tour behind 4:44 and SoundCloud rappers like Lil Yachty, Lil Uzi Vert, Playboi Carti and more have exploded onto the mainstream. Plus, Eminem just resurfaced with the collab of the year. But underground hip hop, or hip hop that’s not generally consumed and is mostly independent, is in especially good shape. Here are nine shows that are not to be missed.

1. Jay Critch and Friends (New York, NY)

Nov. 24 @ Irving Plaza. From $46

This 20-year-old artist from Clinton Hill, Brooklyn has yet to release a mixtape, but his tracks on YouTube and SoundCloud have already amassed a following. Catch the budding rapper in his hometown before tickets are twice the price next year.

2. Cousin Stizz with Swoosh (Boston, MA)

Nov. 24, House of Blues Boston. From $81

Stizz blew up this summer after signing with RCA Records and releasing a single (“Headlock”) featuring Offset from Migos, but his still not on most people’s radar. Born and raised in Boston and known for his MA pride, he is sure to make this, his last concert of the year, a memorable night.

3. Saba (Chicago, IL)

Nov. 25, House of Blues Chicago. From $102

Word first got out about Saba when he guested on “Everybody’s Something” by fellow Chicagoan Chance the Rapper. After collaborating with Chance again on the single “Angels” and performing it on the Late Show with Stephen Colbert, Saba has been taking it easy. He’s released three bomb singles this year and enjoys something of a cult following.

4. 6lack (Atlanta, GA)

Nov. 25 & 26, The Tabernacle. From $34

Another hometown performance here by the Atlanta-bred Ricardo Valentine, AKA 6lack. His debut studio album, Free 6lack, has peaked at number 34 on the Billboard 200 and inspired this tour. Listen to “Prblms,” which samples Forest Swords’ “Irby Tremor,” if you’re looking for a reason to go.


If you can’t make it to Atlanta, check out all of his upcoming shows here.

5. Robb Bank$ (Philadelphia, PA)

Dec. 3, Voltage Lounge. From $83

This 23-year old rapper from Broward County has been on a tear, releasing an album, three EPs, and seven singles in the last two years, with another album slated to drop by January. In the same time, he’s been featured on tracks by Sir Michael Rocks and Denzel Curry. Robb’s bars on bars and R&B samples will make your head rock.


If you can’t make it to Philly, check out all of his upcoming shows here.

6. Rico Nasty (Washington D.C.)

Dec. 8, U Street Music Hall. From $86

She’s a self-proclaimed “yinger” (yell-singer) who raps about Nickelodeon and pregnancy, fast food and self-image. Listening to Taco Bella, as she sometimes refers to herself, feels like watching cartoons on lean. Throw on “Hey Arnold” (and the remix by Lil Yachty) if you want to see what I mean and get hyped for a nasty show in the cozy U Street Music Hall.


If you can’t make it to D.C., check out all of her upcoming shows here.

7. Rapsody (New Orleans, LA)

Dec. 14, House of Blues New Orleans. From $99

North Carolina-native Rapsody hopped on to the scene quite aggressively this last year after signing with Jay Z’s Roc Nation but remains relatively unknown. She began her career a decade ago as a guest on the star-studded 9th Wonder album The Dream Merchant, Vol. 2, but it wasn’t until her mixtape Return of the B-Girl from 2010 that her Mos Def meets Lauryn Hill sound began to come to fruition. Rapsody is not going to be unknown for long, so catch her in New Orleans while her shows are still intimate.


If you can’t make it to NOLA, check out all of her upcoming shows here.

8. Smokepurpp (Santa Ana, CA)

Dec. 20, The Observatory. From $20

Young Miami rapper Smokerpurpp started rapping after no one would use his beats. Only a couple years later, his verses have earned him millions of views on YouTube and millions of monthly listeners on Spotify. His recent album Deadstar is sailing on beats that are deep and fat – tracks that sound like Dirty South hip hop on a space station. He features Travis Scott, Chief Keef, and Yo Gotti. Smokepurpp’s flow is perfect for a late night concert in Cali, and it’s his only solo show this year, so get out there! Shop tickets here.

9. Tee Grizzley (Knoxville, TN)

Dec. 30, Knoxville Civic Auditorium. From $79

The purest rap on this list. Tee Grizzley’s beats are simple and straightforward, leaving plenty of room for you to catch every word in the bar. Born and raised in West Detroit, Tee has had a big first year out of prison, with his album My Moment peaking at 44 on the Billboard 200. Listen to “Intro” for a moving rap acapella, and catch him at his only scheduled show left this year.

(Image courtesy Coup d’Oreille via Flickr.)