From Hip-Hop Game
“…the underground thing, I think people just use that as an excuse. The term “underground” used to refer to the fact that you haven’t broken through to the mainstream yet or you weren’t necessarily conforming to the mainstream. It wasn’t a style of music. It was just where you were at as an artist, like, ‘He’s underground. He hasn’t broken through yet.’ Now it’s “What kind of music do you do?” “I’m underground.” How is that? How are you an underground artist? What do you do? Do you rap underground? Shut up.
A lot of times people are underground because they’re wack. They haven’t broken through and they probably won’t because they don’t want to be the norm and they don’t want to have any rhythm in their music and they want to go over people’s heads. It’s like, ‘The lyrical syllable mineral is vital to the nth degree of polyphonic rituals, inskimmittable!’ Shut up! You probably won’t cross over and have any success outside of the success that you’ve had.
There is no such thing as an “underground style”. Not when I was coming up anyway. It was a place where you were at, like, ‘Right now we’re stuck in the underground but we’re trying to break through.’ That’s what rap’s greatest heroes tried to do. Big L used to be at the radio station with who? Jay-Z. Big L was one of the underground heroes and him and Jay would go and do the Stretch circuit and all of the underground radio circuit. That was the thing. In the highlight of New York’s underground scene, people were making good hip-hop but they still had their eyes on the prize. I think what it turned into is that people trying so hard to go against the establishment that they’re turning into scientists. I don’t know. They go over my head…and I’m a smart dude.”