Rick Ross is not the only one dropping a dope mixtape on Christmas Eve. Check out the one Diggy Simmons just dropped hosted by the legendary DJ Premier

Wow.  This boy’s got TALENT.  Listen to the mixtape below and download it here.

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It’s a great day for underground rap…which is a nice segue into the #8 reason why 2010 is the best year ever in hip-hop: The Return of the Underground.

This one is a bit of a contradiction.  The incredible underground releases this year certainly contributed to the musical strength of the year overall, but underground rap is consistently pretty strong.  It’s the hits that are more unpredictable.  That’s confirmed just by looking at Soundscan sales info.  This year will have several platinum rap albums (Drake, Nicki, Kanye, Eminem, B.o.B. and probably Rick Ross), but that kind of volume hasn’t happened in many years.  Even though great underground releases are more predictable, something still felt a little different about them this year.  A big part of it has to do with technology.  Gone are the days when you need hundreds of thousands of dollars, a professional studio and a big major label backing you to make great music.  These days, all you need is a laptop and a drive…to make it happen for yourself.  That has narrowed the divide between the sonic quality of mainstream and underground music considerably.  More than that, however was just the sense that the underground artists of 2010 had a great shot at being the breakthrough artists of the future.  Enough talk though.  The music speaks for itself.  Here are just a few that killed it in 2010 (and if you missed the previous reasons why 2010 is the best year ever in hip-hop, click here):

1.  Big K.R.I.T. – Somedayz

2.  Nottz – My Neighbor ft Asher Roth

3. 1982 – You Should Go Home ft Masspike Miles and Bun B

4. Curren$y – Michael Knight

5. Diggy Simmons – As I Am

6. Black Milk – Deadly Medley

7. CyHi The Prynce – Shade 45 Freestyle

8. Jay Electronica (he gets 2 joints) – The Announcement

Shiny Suit Theory ft Jay-Z

Diggy Simmons jumps on yet another classic track from a Queensbridge great. This time it’s Nas again on the DJ Premier produced Nas is Like.

Fortunately Diggy keeps doing these songs justice.  If he can get some original material this tight he’s going to have a very bright future.

Click here to download.  If you missed it, here’s how Diggy fared covering Mobb Deep’s Shook Ones.

Diggy Simmons is reppin’ Queens HARD. This time he does it with a freestyle over Mobb Deep’s classic Shook Ones.

This kid is about to blow.

The Bridge is on a whole different level with this one.  Here’s Shook Ones by one of Queensbridge’s finest, Mobb Deep:

And, of course Diggy made his debut rhyming over this classic Nas track.

Diggy Simmons is the latest to flow on the Dead Presidents track with his song As I Am. Who rocks the track better between Diggy, J. Cole and Jay-Z?

The answer is clearly Jay-Z, but it’s closer than you might think.  Take a listen:

Diggy Simmons – As I Am

J. Cole – Dead Presidents II (click here for his original version)

Jay-Z – Dead Presidents (original version)

Jay-Z – Dead Presidents (album version)

Lonnie Liston Smith – Garden of Peace (the original–starts at 2:18)

Props to whosampled.com for the sample ID.

Lupe Fiasco gets some help from his friends on the I’m Beamin’ remix ft Asher Roth, Blu, The Cool Kids, Charles Hamilton, Dosage and B.o.B. There’s strength in numbers…

Lupe and his crew have taken on the name All City Chess Club.  It’s not a stretch to assume they would not be offended by the term “backpackers.”  It’s good to see so many facets of hip-hop again.  Check it out:

Click here to download.

Check out the Cyphers from BET’s Hip-Hop Awards ft Kanye West, Common, Pusha T, Big Sean, Raekwon, Ice Cube, Diggy Simmons, Wiz Khalifa, Yelawolf and many more.

The BET Hip-Hop Awards have been featuring Cyphers for years and they’ve taken a life of their own. Last year’s launched the career of Nicki Minaj. This year’s are the best yet. Check them out:

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Vodpod videos no longer available.

Vodpod videos no longer available.