DJ Crucial founded F5 Records in 1999 and currently runs it with Andrew "Roo" Yawitz. The label has had great years -- like 2001, when it released Crucial and Hi-Fidel's seminal Traveling Between St. Louis and Chicago
, and 2002, when it put out Serengeti's Dirty Flamingo
. But Crucial and Roo have day jobs, and there are months at a time when F5 seems to fall completely off the face of the earth. Which makes it all the more impressive that this year the local hip-hop label put out its most hard-hitting product yet. One was "Gingerbread Man," a joint release with Day by Day Entertainment featuring indie-god MF Doom; the other, "Coronation," was even better, featuring Juice over a Kenautis Smith beat. Crucial contributed beats and production, but, more important, he organized these collaborations, ripping up the map in the process -- St. Louis comes together with New York City, Chicago and Atlanta. Crucial deserves props not just for his studio work: His residencies at Modai Lounge and Blueberry Hill's Friday night sock hop "The Science" rock as well.