Over Royce Da 5'9
Royce Da 5'9" is an odd case. The Detroit emcee is endlessly talented -- a case could be made that he's the best emcee to ever come out of Detroit -- and has both friends and enemies in high places (former collaborator and friend Eminem eventually turned against him). He's also had some of the best producers in the game. Over the past seven years, Gang Starr's DJ Premier has given the emcee some of his best beats, beginning with 2000's underground classic "Boom" and through 2007's excellent "Hit 'Em." But unfortunately, neither his 2002 debut, Rock City, nor his 2004 follow up, Death Is Certain, made a dent on the charts. Label problems are the default excuse in these situations, but perhaps the emcee's tangling wordplay and complex rhyme structure are a little too technical for mainstream ears. Regardless, the Detroit emcee will continue to be cherished in underground circles.