Many people think of New York or California as the biggest hip-hop centers in the United States. Not many people would think of Minnesota as a hotbed of hip-hop talent. But some of the hottest underground rap artists come from the frozen north.
From Rhymesayers Entertainment to Doomtree, Minnesota rappers showed they could compete with the best in the industry. Thanks to an evergrowing underground hip-hop scene, Minnesota is constantly producing some of the best new rappers.
If you’re new to Minnesota rap, we’re here to help. Here’s our list of the best Minnesota rappers you should listen to today.
One of the most influential artists in the Minnesota rap scene, Slug, formed the hip-hop group Atmosphere with Derick Turner. Turner left the group, and producer/DJ Ant joined the group. The new duo is one of the most prolific rap groups of the modern era and continues to push musical boundaries today.
Along with Atmosphere, Slug is behind the Minnesota-based record label Rhymesayers Entertainment. From here, Slug influenced the underground hip-hop scene and helped spawn a large base of new and exciting rappers.
As a lyricist, Slug often uses complex metaphors and allegorical tales of women. He also tends to use introspective stories in his songs.
Today, Atmosphere is Slug and producer/DJ Ant. The duo is still pushing the boundaries of hip-hop in Minnesota and inspiring younger rappers.
2. Brother Ali
Starting at an early age, Brother Ali started his rap career when he was eight. Hip-hop legends of the 80s like Chuck D, Rakim, and KRS-One inspired Brother Ali’s sound and vibe.
Brother Ali released his first album, “Rites of Passage,” in 2000. Since then, he’s continued to release albums regularly.
Ali uses provocative vocals and covers controversial political and philosophical topics during his rhymes. Ali is outspoken and considers himself an activist. From marginalized communities to religious freedom, Brother Ali is ready to fight for your rights.
Ali also uses his skills and experience to teach new and upcoming rappers. He often hosts songwriting workshops to help new talent find their voice.
Hailing from Saint Paul, Minnesota, Eyedea was an inspirational rapper, freestyle MC, and poet. He initially found success as an MC by competing in freestyle competitions.
In 1999, he won the prestigious Scribble Jam hosted by KRS-One. While Eyedea received a record offer from Puff Daddy after the event, he declined. Instead, he opted to join forces with fellow Minnesota rapper, Slug, to form Rhymesayers Entertainment.
You can hear Eyedea’s rap battle skills in every release. While his rhyming is aggressive, Eyedea often discusses deeper philosophical content.
Unfortunately, Eyedea passed away in 2010 at the age of twenty-eight. Highly respected and loved by the community, Eyedea and Abilities received a star outside the legendary Minneapolis nightclub, First Avenue.
Another Rhymesayers alumni, Prof, burst onto the scene in 2007 with his debut album, “Project Gampo.” Prof started his rap career at Dinkytowner Bar in Minneapolis. He met his future manager, Mike Campbell, at a show and formed Stophouse Music Group. In 2013, Prof signed with Rhymesayers and released “Liability” in 2015.
Prof uses comedic lines and vulgar rhymes in many of his songs. If you enjoy songs about partying and meeting girls, you’ll love Prof’s discography. The mix of trap beats and old-school style also gives Prof’s tracks a distinctive sound. Prof encapsulates the sex, drugs, and rock and roll vibe better than any other rapper from Minnesota.
Born Stefon Leron Alexander, P.O.S. made a name for himself in the Minneapolis rap scene during the early 2000s. During his career, P.O.S. worked with several rap crews, including Doomtree, Gayngs, and Four Fists.
Before rapping, P.O.S. played punk music in two bands, Degenerates and Om. By 2001, he switched to hip-hop and formed Doomtree with MK Larada. Since then, P.O.S. has released seven studio albums.
P.O.S. cites Mos Def, Atmosphere, and Aesop Rock as his hip-hop musical influences. Other influences included Minor Threat, Black Flag, Metallica, and Michael Jackson. You can hear the odd selection of influences in every P.O.S. track.
Dessa is a rapper and singer from Minneapolis, Minnesota. In 2005, Dessa joined Doomtree collective and started her hip-hop career. She’s been on every album and tour for the Doomtree since 2005.
As a solo artist, Dessa released four albums. More than a rapper, Dessa is a prolific writer and composer. She recently co-composed for a one-hundred-voice choir and performed with the Minnesota Orchestra.
She’s also a keynote speaker and delivers speeches on art, science, and entrepreneurship. TED Talk fans can check her 2019 appearance on love and relationships.
7. Yung Gravy
Born and raised in Rochester, Minnesota, Yung Gravy gained recognition as a rapper in 2017. After gaining popularity on Soundcloud, his song, “Mr. Clean” went platinum. Since then, he has recorded four studio albums and nine extended plays.
Yung Gravy started rapping for fun, and many of his tracks are comedic and satirical. He often combines deep trap basslines with funky and disco rhythms in his songs.
The combination of sounds in Yung Gravy’s songs is apparent when you see his inspirations. Yung Gravy looks to Outkast, Three 6 Mafia, Smokey Robinson, and The Blackbyrds for inspiration.
8. Lexii Alijai
While her career was short, Lexii Alijai was one of the best female rappers from Minnesota. Alija started her rap career by rapping popular hip-hop songs. She released her first mixtape, “Super Sweet 16s,” on her sixteenth birthday.
After two more mixtapes, Alijai collaborated with Kehlani to release “You Should Be Here” in 2015. The release charted and peaked at number thirty-six on the Billboard 200. Shortly after, Lexii Alijai released her first full-length album, “Growing Pains,” in 2017.
Unfortunately, Alijai passed away in 2020 due to an accidental drug overdose.
9. KayCyy Pluto
Born in Kenya, KayCyy Pluto moved to Minnesota when he was nine years old. After signing to Alive Productions in 2016, Pluto released back-to-back studio albums in 2020 and 2021.
With writing credits for Lil Wayne and Kanye West, KayCyy is respected in the industry despite his age. His biggest song, KayCyy, had verses on West’s track, “Keep My Spirit Alive,” in 2021. KayCyy Pluto was also instrumental on Kanye West’s album, “Donda.” He has writing credits on several tracks, including “24” and “Hurricane.”
Not content with the current state of music, KayCyy is determined to shift the consciousness of today’s hip-hop scene and sound.
10. Saint Dog
Founding member of the Kottonmouth Kings, Saint Dog worked on three releases with the group along with band members D-Loc and Johnny Richter. He also released three studio albums during his career.
Saint Dog and Kottonmouth Kings use a distinct rap style reminiscent of older hip-hop but with an underground vibe. They often discuss controversial topics, partying, and their love of marijuana during the tracks.
Saint Dog’s rap career ended abruptly in 2020 before his forty-fifth birthday.
11. Kristoff Krane
Another freestyle MC master, Kristoff Krane, made his name by winning freestyle battles. He’s known for his intense and non-stop stream of consciousness during his rhymes.
Krane uses spontaneous and verbose rhymes to get his point and thoughts across. He often provides in-depth messaging and provokes thought through every verse. His flow is hard to match and even harder to follow.
As a solo artist, Kran has recorded eight albums since 2008. He was also front and center along with Eyedea in the freestyle group Face Candy.
12. Toki Wright
Born in Minneapolis, Toki Wright started rapping while attending the University of Minnesota. He released his first album alongside Adonis D Frazier as The C.O.R.E (Children of Righteous Elevation). Conscious and underground, Toki Wright takes on many difficult subjects in his tracks.
Wright released his first tracks in 2003 with The C.O.R.E. The album, “Metropolis” was critically acclaimed. Since his initial release, Wright has released two other studio albums, one mixtape, and four EPs.
Wright is also the assistant chair at Berklee’s Professional Music Department. Here he started the first fully accredited hip-hop studies program. He’s also an avid youth organizer and tours the world teaching and performing.
13. Mod Sun
Born and raised in Bloomington, Minnesota, Mod Sun began his music career as a drummer in pop punk and hardcore bands. He started his rap career in 2009.
Throughout his rap career, Mod Sun released five mixtapes and four studio albums. His first studio album was a success and broke into the Billboard Top 200. It also peaked at number one on the US Heat chart. Recently, Mod Sun worked with pop stars like Machine Gun Kelly and Avril Lavigne.
Mod Sun is also a professional writer and poet. He debuted his first book, “Did I Ever Wake Up?” in 2012.
14. Orikal Uno
Original Uno is an MC, visual artist, music producer, and audio engineer from Saint Paul, Minnesota.
Born with a vocal stutter, Orikal Uno improved his speaking patterns by learning freestyle rap skills. Practicing freestyle MCing let the young rapper speak fluently today, as you can hear in his tracks. Uno uses fast-paced and complex lyrical content with ease, thanks to years of training.
An expert in the studio, Orikal Uno has recorded twelve studio albums since 2003.
15. Carnage the Executioner
Whether MCing or beatboxing, there aren’t many rappers that compete with Carnage The Executioner. With over thirty years behind the mic, Carnage’s experience and skills are hard to match.
Self-trained, Carnage began rapping and beatboxing at an early age. His first big break came in 1998 when he beatboxed for Desdemona. The duo formed the group Ill Chemistry shortly afterward. From here, Carnage found success collaborating with Eyedea & Abilities.
Recently, Carnage formed the Hecatomb Crew. They specialize in raw hip-hop music.
16. Bobby Raps
Born in Saint Paul, Bobby Raps began producing beats and songs while attending Saint Paul Central Central High School.
In 2011, Bobby Raps released his first mixtape, “Gimme Daps.” Soon after, he joined forces with Corbin to release the album, “Couch Potato.” Both releases were produced by Bobby Raps.
A mix of trap and viral rhymes, Bobby Raps' career will grow bigger over his next few albums.
17. Frankie Bash
Hailing from Minneapolis, Minnesota, Frankie Bash broke onto the underground hip-hop scene in 2015. He’s a prolific rapper, songwriter, producer, and singer.
As a rapper, Bash released three mixtapes in 2018. He often uses downtempo trap beats and vaporwave-inspired sounds in his tracks to accompany his rhymes.
Better known as a producer, Frankie Bash is heavily sought after for his unique beats. His biggest production credits include working with Future and Juice Wrld on “Wrld on Drugs” and “The Wizrd.”
Finding success on Soundcloud and YouTube, Corbin’s musical career took off in 2014. His release, “Without You,” went viral, and many critics praised its original sound and content.
Rather eccentric, Corbin often releases new music without any promotion or hype. Still, his songs reach millions of plays on streaming platforms. He’s released four studio albums and two mixtapes but the majority of his releases come as singles released online.
Corbin uses a mix of hip-hop and R&B on his releases giving his tracks a smoother and more relaxed vibe.
As a writer, Corbin worked on projects for Future, NAV, and Dua Saleh.
19. Call Me Karizma
A mix of hip-hop and punk, Call Me Karizma is a singer and rapper from New Prague, Minnesota. His professional musical career began after touring with fellow Minnesota natives, Mod Sun, and Blackbear.
In 2018, Call Me Karizma signed with Arista Records and released his first single, “Serotonin,” in November. In 2019, his track, “ Monster,” hit the Billboard Mainstream Rock Airplay charts.
After leaving Arista in 2020, Call Me Karizma signed with Thriller Records. He’s since recorded a third studio album, “Francis.”
Short for DetriMental Ganxta, DMG is a rapper from St. Paul, Minnesota. Active since 1993, DMG has been influential in the underground hip-hop scene for nearly thirty years.
After meeting Scarface in 1993, DMG signed with Rap-a-Lot records and released his debut album, “Rigormortiz.” The album was a success and hit Billboard’s R&B and Heatseeker charts.
After his initial success, DMG went on to join the hip-hop collaborative group Facembob where he found more success.
21. Cecil Otter
Born Kyle Smith, Cecil Otter is a rapper and producer from Minneapolis, Minnesota. He’s also a founding member of the hip-hop crew, Doomtree.
Otter is known for using a variety of musical styles and influences in each of his songs. His rhymes often use complex wordplay and metaphors.
Since 2001, Otter helped create the Minnesota underground rap scene. He’s released two studio albums with Doomtree and Rhymesayers. He’s also recorded four EPs and worked with rappers like Sage Francis, Dessa, and P.O.S.
Another Doomtree alumni, Sims is a rapper from Minneapolis, Minnesota. Sims started creating music at an early age thanks to his two musician parents. At the age of fourteen, Sims found he excelled at freestyle rapping.
While attending Hopkins High School, Sims met fellow rappers P.O.S. and Cecil Otter. He was one of the last members to join the Doomtree Collective.
Along with Doomtree, Sims produced four studio albums and four EPs since 2005.
23. Master P
While he’s not from Minnesota, Master P deserves an honorable mention on this list of best Minnesota rappers. The No-Limit CEO and prolific rapper moved to Minneapolis in 2020.
From humble beginnings in New Orleans, Master P created a hip-hop empire. His first release, “Get Away Clean,” premiered in 1991. He wouldn’t find mainstream success until 1997. Master P’s album, “Ghetto D,” was a hit and certified triple platinum. From there, Master P put New Orleans on the map.
Throughout his career, Master P released fourteen albums and is a major force in the hip-hop industry.
Top Minnesota Rappers, Final Thoughts
You can feel the underground vibe and soul of Minnesota in every song from these rappers. The rappers and producers in the Minnesota scene created a sound that's distinct from other hip-hop hotbeds.
The scene in the Land of 10,000 lakes is growing bigger every year, and with strong support from major labels, Minnesota hip-hop is here to stay.