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Best Hip-Hop Artist 

Toyy

Women deserve a place in the hip-hop culture — and that place sure as hell isn't leaning against an Impala, cooing insipidly in a hot tub or gyrating on the lap of a male rapper. All that's good about hip-hop — its inventiveness, its passion, its intelligence — owes a debt to pioneering female artists such as MC Lyte and Queen Latifah. St. Louis' own Toyy continues the proud tradition of smart feminist rap, both on her own and as part of the super-dope collective the Committee. Toyy, the sister of Jia and the late Katt Davis, writes songs that are informed by her childhood in north St. Louis, her experiences as a female emcee and her irritation with not-so-worthy dudes. On hot singles like "Let Me In," she spits machine-gun-fast rhymes over sultry synths; the overall effect is at once sexy and menacing. And if she can't be found at as many shows, open-mic nights and rap battles as she once was, that's because she's busy expanding her horizons. Toyy stars in the feature-length film Blind Cat Black, which screened at this year's St. Louis Filmmakers Showcase. Talk about talent to spare.

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