Mac Miller isn't the only person in hip-hop making money on his own. Here are five other acts that created their buzz without a major label's help.

1The Weeknd


Abel Tresfaye, aka the Weeknd, is Toronto's enigmatic R&B crooner-on-a-bender whose two free albums from this year, "House of Balloons" and "Thursday," will end up on many best-of-the-year lists. Labels are desperate to sign him, but he's doing just fine thanks to haunting songs and a public friendship with Drake.


The Huntsville, Ala., ambassadors have cultivated a slice of the South that pulls from funk, jazz and rap, but results in a sound all their own. Check out the G-Side feature on page 38.

32 Chainz

One half of Playaz Circle (the group responsible for "Duffle Bag Boy"), 2 Chainz has become the go-to guy for Southern street hip-hop. It's no mistake that T.I. chose 2 Chainz's "Spend It" as the first song he remixed after prison.

4French Montana

The shot caller from the Bronx raps about cocaine sales and the high-life that comes with it. Each day a new rumor emerges — he's signing with Kanye West, no, now it's Rick Ross — but Montana is tight-lipped about his future plans.

5Lil B

The stream-of-consciousness

MC titled his last album, "I'm Gay (I'm Happy)," and recently released a song titled "I Got AIDS." He's part-hippie, part-zany provocateur, with a fan base that resembles a cult. His rapping style, what he calls "based," is completely sincere, making his muddled message harder to write off.