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Earlier this week, Seattle reppers (and homies of XXL) Macklemore and Ryan Lewis made Billboard history by having their second-ever single—the riotous "Can't Hold Us"—hit No. 1 on the Hot 100, replacing their stronghold atop the charts with previous single "Thrift Shop." While Mack's been in the game for a while, the duo's debut was released late last year, and it's been truly incredible to watch their rapid growth and ascent to the top. And remember: They did this without a major label. If there's ever been a discussion that major labels aren't necessary to an artist's success in a modern market, Macklemore and Ryan Lewis are that argument's thesis statement. But, they're not the first independent artists to find impressive success without major-label backing, so here we've compiled a list of other hip-hop acts who were able to achieve great things (in terms of sales, placements and performances) without a major.

Mac Miller - "I'll Be There" Best Day Ever (2011)


"I just hope she know I love her, the world's best mother/Yeah it ain't fair, so I'ma take care of her and her gray hair/When I get rich, I'll have her living how she should be/No stress, no worries."

Childish Gambino - "Bonfire"


"I made the beat retarded, so I'm calling it a slow jam."

Kid Ink


The 2012 XXL Freshman has driven the web wild over the past few years, releasing singles to YouTube, all of which have garnered millions of views. His first proper studio album, Up & Away, was released via Alumni Music Group and peaked at No. 20 on the Billboard 200. He's since signed to RCA Records.


Lil B

Definition: Mostly known as style, unique part of what makes you different than the other players in a cool way

Hoodie Allen - "No Interruption"

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"They told me make my money frontin' on that weed style / Tell 'em I be too old for it / And I gave my brother my ID / She independent, bet these bitches never find me."

Tech N9ne

Tech N9ne*

I met him in 1992, at the Jack the Rapper convention in Atlanta. [He was a] cool cat. [He was] real loud. He was drinkin’. I remember him saying—he didn’t say it to me, but I took it when I heard it—you gotta make songs for the chicks. The chicks gon’ buy the albums, and the dudes gotta have the albums to play the chicks when they come over, to keep them cool.


9. Atmosphere

The Minnesota duo of Slug and Ant is a not only a perfect musical team, they've also paved the way for a lot of independent artists in their on-their-own-terms success. Their most commercially successful record came in 2008 with When Life Gives You Lemons, You Paint That Shit Gold, which peaked at No. 5 on the Billboard 200 charts.

The Dogg Pound


West Coast heroes Daz Dillinger and Kurupt formed The Dogg Pound in 1992. Their debut album Dogg Food hit No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart and went on to go Double Platinum.

El-P - "The Full Retard"


"I am Sam, I am known to go H.A.M., the full retard / Playing taps on a keytar, in the Benz or the Beamer."

Dom Kennedy

14. Dom Kennedy

The West Coast local legend's fame has slowly but surely grown since his 2008 debut, and he's amassed something of a cult following in his hometown of LA. His From the Westside with Love skyrocketed his notoriety, and its followup From the Westside With Love II peaked at No. 12 on the Billboard Rap Album charts.