Too often in this day and age, it is heard and said that the music played in mainstream simply has no substance. Lyrics are devoid of meaningful aspirations and deep-seeded foundations. Many rap songs played on the radio now have gained fame simply because of a catchy hook or club playability. But what about hip hop? It has long since remained a musical genre that has had painfully slow comings into mainstream, unless spit by a popular emcee, and has stayed for the most part underground. Yet it has always been a musical entity that has spoken countless truths, millions of memorable bars, and dope beats. Now, more than ever, [hip hop] artists are stepping outside the box; creating what I have personally dubbed as a “Hip Hop Renaissance”. So as I’m thinking about who’s become “hot” or “fresh” lately in the underground music world I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s artists that have been in the game for awhile but are just now gaining recognition and popping up on the radar of most. Recently brought into the mainstream scene, underground artists such as Wale, Drake, Kid Cudi, J. Cole, and the Cool Kids are making their mark. Among them are even more new hip hop extrordinainaires moving into the Hip Hop Renaissance.

In July,, an online blog version of the magazine, did a fashion story within their style features section on some of the new revolutionary faces in hip hop; entitled “Leaders of the New Cool” and calling them hip hop’s new “class”.  The fashion story then spun off into a Complex sponsored mixtape entitled “Leaders of the New Cool” that features: The Cool Kids, The Knux, B.o.B, Charles Hamilton, Big Sean, and many others. The 28-track mixtape is hosted by Mick Boogie and DJ Treats and creatively brings together the artists songs.

“Leaders of the New Cool” has touches of old school hip hop and brings about a nostalgic feel as it incorporates some old school hits. For instance the track “Hollywood Hiatus (Cool it Now)” by U-N-I mixes snippets of New Edition’s “Cool It Now” and he drops bars on a cover beat from that song. Inspirational reminiscence to other hip hop stars such as Outkast and Lupe Fiasco are audibly present on the mixtape and some beats have a Gnarls Barkley feel to them as well. In my comparisons of them to other well-known artists, I in no way mean to diminish or take away from their own individuality or unique talents and presence in the game.

All the artists on, the mixtape indeed bring an undiluted and eclectic flavor to the hip hop game and provide an essential need for a change in  music. As B.o.B says in his track “Generation Lost”: Honestly I don’t listen to rap/because when I turn on the radio/ out comes crap.” Floating above and beyond catchy hooks and club playability “Leaders of the New Cool” is a prime example of undergrounds hidden talents and the need for its transition into mainstream.

*To listen to/download the “Leaders of the New Cool” mixtape visit and go to the music page.