Best Hip-Hop Producer: Don't get wrathful wid 'em, Gorilla!
Heightened production values have been a huge factor in the re-elevation of Bay Area hip-hop. Of course, there's a large contingent of quality nonhyphy local producers, including Boots Riley of the Coup, Amp Live of Zion-I, Jel of Anticon, and Studio Ton of E-40 fame. But since hyphy is arguably the biggest thing to hit the Bay since the 1906 quake, or at least "spinner" rims, it's only appropriate to recognize the producers who made it happen. Rick Rock created the hyphy sound -- uptempo and energetic, with lots of bass and a hint of old-school electrofunk -- on songs like the Federation's "Go Dumb" and "Hyphy," and made a statement by sampling Digable Planets on E-40's recent "Yay Area." You've gotta love EA-Ski's work, particularly on San Quinn's "Hell Yeah" and Balance's "Gotta Get It." And Traxamillion put his stamp down with infectious, keyboard-laden beats like Dem Hoodstarz' "Getz Ya Grown Man On" and "All Day Mane" and, most famously, Keak da Sneak's "Super Hyphie (That's My Word)." But hyphy is all about the young generation coming into its own, so it's only right to note the emergence of E-40's son Earl Jr., better known as Droop-E. The teenage wonder -- who's still in high school -- has held his own with the studio heavyweights, being responsible for slap-happy, knockin' tracks like Mike Marshall's "Tryna Leave wit Something," the Federation & the Mossie's "Go Ignant," Nump's "I Got Grapes," Big Rich's "Meet the Dealers," Messy Marv's "Get on My Hype" remix, and one of hyphy's most anthemic tracks thus far, Mistah F.A.B.'s "Super Sic wid It." He also recently completed a remix of DJ Shadow's "Three Freaks" with Turf Talk, F.A.B., and Keak, and contributed to his daddy's My Ghetto Report Card. As if that wasn't enough, Droop-E recently hooked up with rapper B-Slimm for an album called The Fedi Fetcher & the Money Stretcher, released on his proud papa's label, Sick wid' It. On his MySpace page, he calls himself "humble and hungry," adding "I'm a laid back dude, but da gorilla comes outta every once and a blue moon yadada." With such an auspicious beginning, it's scary to think of how far this eighteen-year-old could go. People are already saying, "Please, Droop-E, don't hurt 'em!"