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Best Aggregator of Mainstream Rap and the Thug Life 

The Jacka

Self-made artist the Jacka built a small empire by selling records hand-to-hand and pimping his criminal past. (He's a "jack artist" in many senses.) Now he's spotlighted on mainstream radio stations with such hits as "All Over Me" and "Glamorous Lifestyle," which features underground kingpin Andre Nickatina. The Jacka is a classical gangsta rapper, known less for prurience (though in fairness, he's no prude) than for angrily politicized hustler anthems, revenge songs against the police, and lyrics about his devotion to Islam. His first two albums got their texture and shape from Mob Figaz producer RobLo, whose melodic beats formed a perfect juxtaposition to Jacka's scratchy, half-sung rap voice. This year, however, the Pittsburg-raised artist went a little more mainstream. His new album, Tear Gas, includes celebrity guest cameos (Paul Wall, Freeway, and Devin the Dude) and beats sampled from the Doors and the Beastie Boys. It's still unmistakably a Jacka album, though on this one the Jacka hews a little more to the hot rapper persona. But why settle for small-time crookery after you've reached Billboard's Top 100? The Jacka inevitably has more successes to come.

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(Sorry, no information is currently available for other years in this same award category.)

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