Ten rap acts to watch in 2014

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Taylor Hinds
Jon Connor is one of the ten rap acts worth keeping an eye on in 2014

While MCs like Kendrick Lamar, Macklemore and Chance the Rapper are running the game right now -- and will likely continue to do so until the next batch of hungry rappers rises up to give them a run -- there are a number of MCs who are poised to grab the spotlight, many of whom are still flying beneath the mainstream radar despite having made significant moves in the past year. Here are the ten rap acts worth keeping an eye on in 2014.

See also: The fifty best rap lyrics of all time

10. Tree
Packing more personality into each of his slurred words than maybe any artist today, Tree shares a home town (Chicago) with recent stalwarts Chance the Rapper and Chief Keef, but he sounds much more like a Lil Wayne or T.I. What he does share with his fellow Chicagoans is a penchant for vocal musicality, which allows his music to stand out even when his lyrics are nearly intelligible. With a top-of-the-line producer, it's easy to imagine Tree growing to new levels.

9. Nitty Scott, MC
Since first emerging after releasing Doobies X Popsicle Sticks in 2011, Nitty Scott, MC has evolved from a good freestyle rapper to a potentially game-changing soulstress. Lauryn Hill is an obvious influence, and though Scott doesn't yet have the skill that Hill had, she has Hill's confident elegance and a unique style that is unlike anything you'll hear in rap right now. She didn't have a major release in 2013, so she's due in 2014. She is a definite wildcard.

8. Vic Mensa
After coming up with indie/rock/hip-hop band Kids These Days, Vic Mensa has parted ways and begun his exodus as a solo MC. Helped immensely by his feature on "Cocoa Butter Kisses" and his delivery of one of the very best verses on Chance the Rapper's Acid Rap, Mensa's own mixtape INNANETAPE, which in turn featured Chance, generated considerable buzz. Now touring with J. Cole and Wale, Mensa will surely expose himself to an even larger audience, which should place any 2014 release of his under the microscope.

7. Rapsody
A protege of legendary producer 9th Wonder, Rapsody is often burdened with a heavy qualifier -- one of the best female MCs in rap -- when in reality she is one of the best up-and-coming rappers, period. Rapsody's writing style is eloquent and full of meaning, laced with wordplay that functions as lyrical adornment rather than an end in itself. Her debut release, The Idea of Beautiful, was well received but not exactly a commercial hit. Her 2013 mixtape, She Got Game, was a statement release, generating even more heat. If she can capitalize on that momentum, 2014 could be her coming-out party.

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