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Best B-Boy-Inspired MC 

Raashan Ahmad

These days, there are plenty of new-jack rappers, but not so many emcees upholding the B-boy tradition. (In case you missed the films Planet B-Boy or Breakin' 2: Electric Boogaloo, a B-boy is a breakdancer or beat boy, circa the late-'70s/early-'80s, but it's also come to represent a sort of cultural purity in hip-hop which is very old-school.) Raashan Ahmad started his hip-hop career popping and locking in Los Angeles back in the days. After moving to Boston, he joined the organic hip-hop collective Mission as a vocalist, eventually relocating to Oakland with bandmates Kat Ouano, Headnodic, and Woodstock and rechristening the band Crown City Rockers. In a genre increasingly dominated by trap rappers, Ahmad offers a refreshing alternative to references to Yayo, rims, and bling. His rapping style and much of his subject matter is B-boy-inspired, yet he doesn't simply evoke nostalgia for Adidas tracksuits, striped Lees, fuzzy Kangols, 808 drums, and cardboard breaking "mats" — nor wish for a simpler time in hip-hop. On his 2008 solo debut, The Push, Ahmad updates the B-boy template with progressive, funky beats and a well-traveled, East Bay sensibility, assisted by everyone from Jurassic 5's Chali 2na and Eligh of the Living Legends to O-town diva Jennifer Johns to Russian turntablist/producer DJ Vadim. Like most devoted B-boys, Ahmad reveres hip-hop's cultural elements, and in addition to emceeing and breaking, he's also mastered the DJ craft. If you don't catch him live (solo or with CCR) at a venue near you soon, you can hear him spin regularly at the Shattuck Down Low.

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

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