Contrary to poular belief, gangsta rap
is not the only type of rap. There are many sub-genres, such as alternative rap. Alternative rap or Underground rap is defined as a culture rather than just a musical genre. Underground rap and hip hop includes the various arts of turntablism, sampling, producing, breakdancing, visual art, graffiti, spoken word, beatboxing, freestyling, cyphering, and more. The music itself is distinguished by artists who are not promoted by major record labels, often because of their experimental musicianship and lyrical content. Many underground artists are also using hip hop to successfully communicate issues of social justice, global and political change, and collective consciousness. Underground hip hop beats are often characterized by the fusion of loops sampled from all genres of music, including classical, jazz, funk, rock, and punk. Although some listeners may associate live instrumentation with alternative hip hop, this distinction is invalid because mainstream rap acts such as J-Kwon use live instruments as well. Underground hip hop artists generally do not achieve the same level of financial success that commercial rappers achieve, although their work is often critically acclaimed.
Artists labeled as "alternative hip hop" musicians usually record and perform in styles that are more closely related to the original concepts and styles of hip hop music and hip hop culture, as opposed to their more popular commercial counterparts. DJ Kool Herc once said in an essay about hip hop, that "it's not about keeping it real. It's about keeping it right." In this sense, many would argue that alternative hip hop might not be so much an alternative as much as it is a continuation of the original concepts and ideals of hip hop.
MF Doom and Non-phixion are prime examples of alternative rap.