These are our best MCs—by skill, longevity, and influence. This is a fluid list and we would love to add more names to this list.
Tsutomu “Tom” Shimura, better known by his stage name Lyrics Born, is a Japanese-American rapper and producer. He is one half of the duo Latyrx with Lateef the Truthspeaker.
In 2017, Yamazawa released his debut album Shouts to Durham, which peaked at #37 on the iTunes top 100 rap albums, and his most famous track, “North Cack,” has reached nearly one million views on YouTube.
Key is a member of the LA-based underground crew The Visionaries and is best known as the primary rapper on Kozmonautz (1995) with DJ Rhettmattic.
Behind the Beats
The following few are either the producer/DJs, or featured prominently as part of the musical crew.
Dan the Automator
Daniel M. Nakamura (born August 29, 1966), is better known as Dan the Automator, is an American record producer from San Francisco, California. His biggest records have been with Handsome Boy Modeling School, Dr Octagon, Deltron 3030, and the Gorillaz.
Mark Ramos Nishita (born February 10, 1960), known professionally as Money Mark, is an American producer and musician, best known for his collaborations with the Beastie Boys from 1992 until 2011.
In the early 1980s, Steve Yano employed Dr. Dre of the World Class Wreckin’ Cru to create mixtapes for him to sell at his booth at the Roadium Swap Meet. Dr. Dre created the mixes and some of the rappers featured on them were MC Ren, Ice Cube, Eazy-E, Krazy Dee (N.W.A.), Sir Jinx, Dazzie Dee and more.
Michael Kenji Shinoda is a musician, singer, songwriter, rapper, record producer, and graphic designer. He co-founded Linkin Park in 1996 and is the band’s rhythm guitarist, primary songwriter, keyboardist, producer, and co-lead vocalist.
The New School
These are the up and coming MCs who are setting the standards for the future.
Bilingual artist Leon Miyachi Pearl was born on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, New York to a family of musicians. Raised as a classically trained pianist, Miyachi began writing lyrics and producing in early high school. Moving between New York and Tokyo, Miyachi is an up-and-coming MC with a lot of promise.
The newest member of this club, Lil Ricefield is from Oakland, CA and has a couple of videos on YouTube right now. Trapanese is the first song we became aware of, and the video for it is genius.
Shingo Annen (安念 真吾, Annen Shingo, born 1975), better known by his stage name Shing02, is a Japanese American hip hop recording artist, record producer, activist and investor
Preston Oshita (born June 26, 1993), better known by his stage name Towkio, is an American rapper from Chicago, Illinois. He was previously known as Young P, Preston San, and Tokyo Shawn. He is a member of the Savemoney crew. His debut studio album, WWW., was released in 2018.