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Best Trip Hop Artists

Trip hop artists might be a very 90s obsession, but their music still remains good today.

If there's one thing I enjoy, it's electronica. I'm the person who you go to when you want advice for your first rave. I can tell you all the best music festivals on the East coast, and can even introduce you to some of the bigger artists. 

I'm not discriminatory when it comes to my love of electric music. As long as it has a beat, I'll love it. I love EDM, happy hardcore, industrial, IDM, lo-fi hip hop, or even gabber. I like to believe I'm a connoisseur of electric sound.

Back in the 90s, trip hop was gaining a lot of traction in mainstream media... and then it just faded out and became an indie genre. This is a damned shame, if you ask me. We need a slow, chill, and smart music genre out there. 

This genre has a very seductive and intellectual vibe to it that's incredible if you're trying to set the mood for date night. It's nouveau noir in a music genre, and it's irresistible. I love trip hop, straight up. If you want to see why, check out my list of the best trip hop artists below. 

Tricky

Tricky was one of the bigger names in early 00s trip hop, and in my opinion, he remains one of the best trip hop artists in the history of the genre. The way he blends rapping with a lyrical undertone, smooth jazz beats, and just a little bit of philosophy makes his music undeniably enjoyable. 

My personal favorite song by him would be "Evolution Revolution Love," and once you see the music video, you'll understand why. It's nothing short of pure genius. 

Portishead

Portishead is one of those bands that oscillates between a number of genres, including experimental rock and trip hop. Though they've produced music in a variety of different genres, most would call them one of the best trip hop artists of the 90s. 

Why? Well, their hit "Glory Box" basically personified the melancholy and new-noir vibe of the genre. It's still sampled today in rap, hip hop, and other electronica tracks because it's just that beautifully composed. 

Massive Attack

It doesn't take a music major to figure out why Massive Attack remains one of the best trip hop artists in the genre's history. They've had a huge number of hits and regularly see their baseline beats sampled in rap, hip hop, lo-fi, and other similar genres. 

Their music has an oddly "dark future past" ambiance to it that makes it worldly, sexual, and hypnotic. Whether you're choosing to smoke a joint, looking for a drive in your convertible, or trying to set a hot night with someone, their music stands out as an impeccable mood setter. 

Chinese Man

Chinese Man happens to be one of my all-time favorite bands, primarily because they blend two of my favorite genres into one flawlessly. The two genres they tend to blend the most are trip hop and turntablism. 

They're one of the best trip hop artists to come out of France because they are so amazingly versatile. Sometimes, their music sounds totally zen. Other times, it's a full-on electro-swing song. Even more times, it's a perfect mix of powerfully trippy renditions that make you want to dance and strut. 

I seriously can't suggest them enough. They're incredible. 

Thievery Corporation

If you've ever gone to a hyper-upscale restaurant, chances are that you've heard Thievery Corporation playing in the background. This highly ambient music duo is infamous for giving listeners a very intellectual, sophisticated, and urbane vibe in every song they make. 

Based out of Washington, D.C., Thievery Corporation makes the kind of music you expect to hear when you're looking out at a city skyline from a penthouse suite. Listen to their music, and you'll totally get what I mean by that. 

Sophistication and seduction play in almost every song they make, and that's what makes them one of the best trip hop artists you'll ever hear drop a beat. 

Morcheeba

Another band that's become famous for their ability to sound elegant and keep that classic silky trip hop beat is Morcheeba. This UK-based trip hop group basically defined the trip hop scene for a while—in no small part thanks to the lead singer's velvety and hypnotic voice. 

Their music is amazing for moments when you just need to hear something to calm you down, but also can work incredibly well when it comes to sparking the right mood for a date. Their music is just downright impressive, no matter how you look at it. 

DJ Krush

Hideaki Ishii, also known as DJ Krush, is proof that old school turntablism makes for incredible trip hop and hip hop. He's one of the first legitimate trip hop artists to exist and helped blaze a trail for fellow turntablists who wanted to add more emotion and jazz into their tracks. 

Krush brings all the urban-exotic elements of his home country of Japan into his music. The results are breathtaking and remain an inspiration for anyone who wants to try to get a new grasp of how to bring ambiance, emotion, and killer scratches into their music. 

Most impressively? DJ Krush is 55 years old and still managed to kill it on the decks. Being a DJ isn't easy, and Krush still manages to crush it, even when battling kids half his age. Respect!

DJ Shadow

Okay, okay, hear me out. 

DJ Shadow, prior to being known as a Top 40s DJ who did work with Run the Jewels, was famous for being one of the best trip hop artists of his time. He brought out those smooth jazz samples in his earlier work and still tends to lean towards the genre's airy ambiance in a lot of his newer tracks. 

These days, DJ Shadow tends to walk the fine line between hip hop and the trip. Though people might recognize him for work with rappers like Danny Brown, it's undeniable that his roots in his OG genre are what got him the attention he's receiving from mainstream media. 

Call him a sellout if you want, but you'd be a jealous idiot. You really can't hate on a guy who managed to win at spinning turntables the way he did. He's one of the best DJs who can scratch of all time. 

Rob Dougan

Some might disagree with me, but I don't believe you have to be prolific in order to be one of the best trip hop artists of all time. Sometimes, you just really need one or two major magnum opus-level tracks to really prove how much of a musical genius you are. 

That's precisely why I think Rob Dougan needs a lot more praise than he's received. He was the genius behind the song "Clubbed to Death" off the Matrix soundtrack, as well as the smash hit "Furious Angels." 

His moody tracks and brilliant instrumentals remain some of the most iconic in the genre. As a result, his tracks are regularly sampled in movies, music remixes, and soundscapes of all kinds. 

RJD2

RJD2 is the DJ who was behind one of the biggest resurgences of trip hop's popularity during the 2000s. It's easy to see why. His beats are so emotional, yet at the same time, minimalist in their own rights. 

The kind of remixes he does remain classic, sample-worthy, and at the same time, pointedly ambient in their own right. What's most impressive, though, isn't the way he walks between urban and jazzy. 

Rather, what's most impressive is his staying power in the scene and how utterly versatile his music is. He's no one-trick pony, and that's why he remains one o the best trip hop artists to ever live. 

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