Local hip-hop album of the year: DJ Crucial, Test Presses and Dub Plates (F5 Records). Crucial somehow enlisted two decades' worth of rap royalty for this collection, which is produced and mixed as smoothly as a milkshake spiked with Baileys Irish Cream. Let's hope the follow-up doesn't take another eight years.
Local hip-hop album of the year, runner up: Huggie Brown, Hug The Block (Frozen Food Section). In the lyrics to "It's Hard Being a 'G,'" Brown says he's imparting wisdom to young cubs about life on the streets. But his cadence and delivery really equal the most self-confident flow in St. Louis.
Best local beat-maker gone national: Brian "B-Money" Hughes left town six years ago, and recently, his beats on a song called "The Prelude" kicked off Jay-Z's new album, Kingdom Come. That kid is gonna be alright.
National beat-maker gone local: Aeneas "Hardley Davidson" Middleton, meanwhile, found success after coming here from the Big Apple in 2003. His beats are featured on albums from Chamillionaire, Potzee and Havok.
Local hip-hop stories of the year: East St. Louis rapper Raw Resse defied spelling and the odds by signing with Rap-A-Lot Records, while that label's Bun B sparred with local blogger Byron Crawford on the Internet. Acting on a tip that gun-toting gang-bangers were in attendance, police shut down a hip-hop show in Belleville. St. Lunatics member Ali had the hit of his life with "Grillz" but was also Tasered by Hazelwood police. Spaide R.I.P.P.E.R., Ruka Puff and Gena got spins on corporate radio, while the success of Chingy's Hoodstar remains to be seen.
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