Yo! RFT Raps 

Week of January 4, 2006

As is becoming an annual tradition, St. Louis produced another hip-hop hit maker this year: fifteen-year-old Jibbs, who parlayed a familiar hook into junior high school gigs all over the country. But his album, Jibbs feat. Jibbs, will be quickly and deservedly forgotten, so let's focus on the stand-out albums and artists that won't be.

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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