Free Agents: 10 Independent Rappers Who Could Use An Upgrade

Thanks to a certain Mr. West, Chief Keef is one of Hip-Hop’s most sought-after talents. The 17-year-old emcee has hardly been in the public’s eye for more than a couple of months, but he has some very big decisions ahead of him. With everybody from Birdman to Rick Ross preparing large, novelty checks to send his way, Keef’s future will be determined in large part by the team that drafts him.

As such, the following 10 rappers have all experienced some degree of success in rap without the bump of a major record deal. Call them employees of smaller, local labels, but technicalities aside, all share a level of success earned without the help of a big-name co-sign. And, since speculation is fun, we paired the artists with major labels that seem best-equipped to help the rappers thrive.

A&Rs, consider this your heads up.

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1. Jon Connor

Who Should Sign Him: Shady Records

Bolstered by a team of staunch supporters and the drive of a factory worker with a house-full of kids to feed, The Con man has slowly but surely made his way into the public eye. However, despite being able to craft any type of song you can think of, it almost seems like his penchant for murdering mics and speaking the truth holds the Flint native back from making major moves. That’s why a boost from Marshall’s crew would be a perfect fit. The label’s built on turning lyricists into stars and a hard-nosed Michigan kid like Connor would thrive with guidance from a team who turns talent into hits. — Beware

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2. Chip Tha Ripper

Who Should Sign Him: G.O.O.D. Music

Chip already has an established history with some of G.O.O.D.’s finest, putting out a number of tracks with Kid Cudi and Big Sean. His merits run deeper than association, though; fans know that Chip is a very talented lyricist with a radio-friendly voice. And he’s done his part as an independent act over the years, slowly but surely building a fan-base. Toss a Chip verse on the next G.O.O.D. Friday release and watch the heads turn. — AJ

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3. Action Bronson

Who Should Sign Him: Fool’s Gold

Let’s face it, Bronson is a niche rapper. He doesn’t have radio songs and he probably couldn’t care less about making them. So, finding a legit label that can secure a long-term career for his selective menu of unadulterated Hip-Hop would be key. That’s why Fool’s Gold would be wise to put together some paperwork for Flushing’s favorite wrestling fan. Following the same formula they did with Danny Brown, A-Trak’s label can allow Bam Bam to do Bam Bam, while still watching him flourish in front of an astute audience that can appreciate his wit, as well as the occasional crossover joint he’d inevitably end up on. — Beware

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