World’s Fair – Photo by Jessica Lehrman

I don’t think it’s unreasonable to say that if 2013 was a musical genre, it would be hip-hop. And even if it is unreasonable, I’m gonna say it anyway. This is has been a year of self-released mixtapes with mass appeal, Kendrick’s Control verse, Jay Z dropping the hyphen, and kids under twenty reminding Jay Z how it’s done. And what does that mean for people with ears? More to listen to, and more decisions to make at CMJ Music Marathon. To help you navigate the rap game at CMJ this year, we’ve compiled a list of acts you can’t miss—many from New York’s own concrete backyard. Sure, Talib Kweli’s not on this list, but you guys were already planning on seeing him, right? Check out our top picks below and browse the rest of the schedule here.

Riff Raff

Even though he kind of looks like Bono with weird facial hair, Riff Raff sounds way more like someone yelling over a video game outside a Blockbuster. The Houston rapper is a Medusa-like mass of pop culture references, polka-dotted flow, and dead-dog beats that sound like dwuuuuup. He’s also the hip-hop Yoko Ono because I feel like he wants us to think he’s insane.
Riff Raff is playing the Moodswing360 Showcase on Friday, October 18 at Irving Plaza.


The Underachievers

I saw the Underachievers play with Flatbush Zombies in Red Hook this summer and I was like “Ooooh shit.” Cause Issa Dash and AK kiiinda rapped the Zombies under the table. Or under the stage. Last month the duo released the Lex Luger-produced Lords Of Flatbush EP, a minimalist compilation of snare and bass gravity jams that will convince you that hearing them live may be the most important life decision you ever make.
The Underachievers are playing the Duck Down/Javotti Showcase on Wednesday, October 16 at Music Hall Of Williamsburg.


World’s Fair

Queens collective World’s Fair is about that east coast life. Last month’s Bastards Of The Party mixtape found the group kicking up dust in the place where ’90s throwback rap and futuristic party tunes collide. If there’s anyone you don’t want telling you “your girl’s here,” it’s the guys quickly perfecting this speed-tongued, heavy-drop, east-of-the-Mississippi sound.
World’s Fair is playing Wednesday, October 16 at Santos Party House.


T’nah Apex

It’s possible you’ve heard T’nah Apex before, like on the unusually stealthy Joey Bada$$ track “Right On Time,” which has T’nah’s effortless croon sparking with Bada$$’s gruff hack, or when she’s mingling with other Pro Era cohorts. But the 20-year-old Brooklynite can undoubtedly hold her own with a crisp, maximalist rapping style and Erykah Badu-esque vox. Act fast, because this won’t stay quiet for long.
T’nah Apex is playing the Duck Down/Javotti Showcase on Wednesday, October 16 at Music Hall Of Williamsburg.

Throwback To See



Remember this guy? We do. Any mention of Sisqo recalls memories of dancing while clutching a tall boy of Natty Light but secretly missing that totally safe feeling of being in the womb. You know?
Sisquo is playing the New Soul City Showcase on Thursday, October 17 at S.O.B’s.