Skip to content Skip to footer

Big Respect: Westside Gunn gives the underground a platform

With Rona keeping us indoors, music is the way most of us choose to escape. If that’s the case, keep an eye out for some of these up-and-coming rappers named on Westside Gunn’s new album, Pray For Paris.

The album is a testament to the times and its running themes are high fashion, thug life, and a whole lotta drip.

The album speaks for itself but, still, Gunn took his IG live, the other day to throw some respect towards some names in hip-hop that are absolutely crushing the boards.

There’s nothing more refreshing than an artist shining a light on his colleagues. Times like these are few and far between where we get to see the true fan in an artist. And rapper Westside Gunn is no exception.

For all of you on the prowl for some fresh sounds to beat against those eardrums, artists mentioned by the Roc Nation rapper were:


Estee Nack is “just tryna get paid, man,”  the Dominican and Lynn, Massachusetts raps over the latest track from his arsenal of fire drops. Running with his Tragic Allies crew the rapper has been known to spit a bar or two.

The relationship between him and Gunn runs deep. The artists worked together, just last year, when Gunn tapped him for a verse on his track, “Banna Yacht.” But there’s more to Nack as the rapper is a student of the game.

In an interview with Hip Hop DX, he said, “I was obsessed with the American culture, man. [Hip Hop] was my way of connecting with that culture.”

He continued to express how he’s always evolving:

“I don’t feel like I ever had just ‘a sound. I don’t even think I have the same sound that I had last year or the year before. I’ve been a million times evolved. I still haven’t reached my final form.”

Al. Divino

Rapper al.divino needs the asesino for the c-notes. Mans is so raspy. The Boston emcee has been in the game from when he was a teenager and the lethal strikes his punchlines hold prove it.

Staying true to his Spanish heritage the rapper’s name translates to “of the divine.” For over half a decade mans has been going in from the early years dropping one-off freestyles over Lord Finesse instrumentals to building a music catalog so vast that he can’t look back.

In an interview with Bandcamp Divino said, “When I was younger, rap inspired me. But as I got older, I took the initiative to look for more as far as truth, knowledge, knowledge of self.”

“That was kinda a master key for me to open a lot of doors [and to learn things] about myself, about life, about the world.”

Roc Marciano

“Roc and I been making songs forever,” Gunn claimed in a recent interview with Complex.

If you haven’t heard of Roc Marciano you’ll definitely hear him on Gunn’s Pray for Paris. Appearing on “$500 Ounces” alongside Gibbs and Gunn over a horn-heavy backbeat, one can’t help but feel an air of class while listening to the track.

It seems as if Marciano’s habitual rap tactics always find a way to put you in a Godfather-like mood. Truthfully, he is your rapper’s favorite rapper and deserves more than just a shout out.

In the game for a decade long has released several projects but, for him, there’s a lot more brick to be laid for the house he’s built. Plus, you can always trust the multi-hyphenate rap artist is always getting high with one purpose in mind — getting work done.

In an interview with Merry Jane he expressed, “I’ve never been a hardcore pothead, like where I have a blunt on me all the time. I kinda always made sure I got something out of me getting high, meaning I got something done off it.”

“Like when I’m smoking, I try to roll up my sleeves and do some writing, get some work done, get something out of it.”


Vetted by some the best in the game, ANKHLEJOHN has a long list of homies he’s worked with including Al. Divino.

Hailing from D.C. ANKHLEJOHN is here to keep you mesmerized with his sinister beats and raspy flows. It’s about time we showed some respect to the deeply rooted emcee. He continues to not only raise the bar for himself but for the underground hip-hop community overall.

Growing up in D.C. he was heavily influenced by our Nothern culture. Still, he’s far from what one would call a “local artist.” In an interview with Deeply Rooted Hip-Hop, he said, “I don’t call myself a local artist. If you were in the DMV area you would know that there’s a big fight for who wants to be the most known or the best DMV artist…”

“Lotta people just wanna box you in and say you a DMV artist type of shit. I’m like fuck that, I’m a hip hop artist. I’m an artist for DC, for New York, for LA, for fuckin Africa, fuckin Italy, for all over the fuckin world, for the universe, ya nahmean, cuz we all can relate to it.”

Rome Streetz

NYC native Rome Streetz’s lyrics come with a price tag. As he weaves between the beats he spits over with hard-hitting punch lines it’s easy to realize why he ranks amongst the best.

Well-traveled, the emcee grew up in London after his mom attempted to keep him out of trouble. But like most OG New Yorkers, it’s hard to stay away. After hitting a rough patch overseas he would return to a city not ready for his pen game.

He told Hip Hop DX, in an interview, “There weren’t any outlets in New York,” he says. “Everybody just started doing the swag rap shit. I wasn’t really into that man. ”

He would regain confidence after hit a major turning point in his career. Streetz realized that he wasn’t alone in this because there were artists just like him and as DX put it, they were beginning to bubble over.

“I was inspired to continue to make the type of music that I’ve always been making because I saw it getting traction somewhere else.”


Rochester raised rapper Eto serves as the missing link to the Cuban. Using his bars as his weapon of choice, the Hell’s Roof emcee has transitioned into a space where he’s too hot to touch.

Several mixtapes in as Lil Eto throughout the aughts, the now mature lyricist is ready to tackle the new decade.


Straight out of Hackensack, anyone with ears would call CRIMEAPPLE a sonic anomaly. Sour to the core and packing a sweet punch, it’s no wonder why the rapper’s name makes so much sense.

Narrating his life through the bars that he spits, it’s hard not to get wrapped up in the lyrical world the emcee creates. He started rapping seriously around three years ago, but in that short span has managed to make more than a name for himself.

Flawlessly he has been able to climb the underground ladder to rap success. He told a New Jersey newspaper,

“I have a plan… But there are a lot of things that can happen. It’s pretty whimsical,” he says. “We just go with the flow.”

For him, spitting bars is just all in a day’s work.

Pray for Paris is available on all platforms to stream. But make sure you put it on for some of the best of the underground.

Sloan Varunok threw the assist for this article.