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No label? No problem: Macklemore and other rap artists with hot DIY imprints

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In recent years, the phenomenal rise of rap artist Macklemore and power producer Ryan Lewis has proven that the world wants to hear music aimed at exploring obsessions and provoking social change.

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An increasing number of young music devotees are becoming more particular when it comes to listening to the styles of hip-hop and rap. Many are gravitating away from superficial lyrics and inching toward purposeful messages that present a greater impact on their existence and the influences in their lives.

Produced and distributed independently, the duo's collaborative debut album, "The Heist," goes nose-to-nose with the trappings of addiction, pimp-slaps the music industry, while advocating marriage equality. Within hours of its release in 2012, the album triumphed by clinching the number one spot on iTunes. The pair’s sleeper single, Thrift Shop, showed the Billboard Hot 100 chart who's the boss. The ingenious track, which parodies beer-budget materialism, has garnered nearly 470 million views on YouTube, as of this writing.

The Seattle-based team’s ascent to greatness serves as a high-five incentive for fellow indie artists in Los Angeles that are doing what’s necessary to peddle their talent, including launching their own record labels.

Hopsin, a rap artist that promotes drug-free youth, possesses an expert ability to spit bars on any topic. The razor-tongued show-stopper, who was placed in special educational classes during high school, now runs Funk Volume, his own record company and marketing entity. The fifth installment of his “Ill Mind of Hopsin” video series has received more than 33 million views on YouTube. His third album, Knock Madness, punched its way into the mix in 2013.

In 2009, rap artist Justin Ritter (SwizZz) decided to link arms with his productive childhood friend, Hopsin, by co-producing Haywire, a collaborative mixed-tape that struck gold on the DatPiff website. By 2012, the high-energy masons of music were traveling the globe, grinding out 44 concerts in 50 days.

Born into a musical family, DJ Hoppa has produced eight full-length albums, various digital singles and a monumental collection of remixes, mixed-tapes and mashups. The multi-instrumentalist, who tours with mainstream acts, has developed a prosperous hip-hop and rap environment in the San Fernando Valley. Now considered a celebrity disc jockey, this mason of music has turned the science of spinning tunes into minting cash.

After performing for millions of viewers on the America’s Got Talent television show and receiving a standing ovation from the judges in 2012, freestyle rap artist Chris La Vrar has wowed massive audiences at notable music festivals along the California coast. The effervescent entertainer has shared the stage with some of the nation’s leading recording artists. The improvisational lyricist was a recent invited guest at the Face of the World pageant in Europe, where he promoted his compilation of catchy tunes designed to educate and empower youth. Since then, La Vrar has been donating his time to inspire children living with cancer and other debilitating diseases and frailties. The renaissance man's debut album, titled "Rhymatist," was made available to the general public in 2013.

When he was orphaned at age 16, urban rap artist Alphonzo Collins (Ma2g3ic) was left to rear his younger two siblings on his own in one of L.A.’s crime-pocked neighborhoods. He has leapt over financial hurdles by performing effective songs that bring listeners into the focused mind of a determined young man forced to grow up too soon. In raw, in-your-face delivery, this maestro of the microphone has perfected the art of vocal presence and impeccable enunciation. Now living in Long Beach and headlining sold-out shows throughout L.A., this rapper’s star continues to rise as he spreads gritty tidings of love, faith and hope in his quest to beat the odds.

“Taking control of our own destiny increases our ability to expand,” said Collins. “Producing socially-relevant rap songs broadens our intellect and allows us all to view the world in a whole new way.”

Added La Vrar: "Music is a powerful medium and should be used for the betterment of the people."

Follow Sharon at CBS Los Angeles.


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