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Best Rapper-Producer 

Erk tha Jerk

Local 'hood nerd Erk tha Jerk experienced fleeting popularity last year when two of his songs — the hyphy diss "I'm So Dumb" and the slow-paced slumper "Don't Need 'Em" — spent a few weeks in regular rotation on KMEL. A couple months later he dropped an even better track, "Plane in the Air," which featured guest vocals by Too $hort and a noisy, disorienting beat that paired a snare drum with a weird honking sound. With those three songs alone, Erk established himself as a force to be reckoned with. He has a distinctive, growly voice, odd bar flows, snarly lyrics, and a wry sense of humor — ("Don't Need 'Em" includes a well-placed sample from Snoop Dogg's "Ain't No Fun (If the Homies Can't Have None).") Moreover, he generated an image and a cult of personality that other rappers are constantly trying to imitate (the popular Los Angeles group New Boyz might have ripped their skinny-jeans look and "I'm a Jerk" anthem from someone other than Erk, but the similarity is fishy enough that Erk had to clown them on his MySpace page). Erk hasn't released many new solo tracks this year, but he's been hard at work in the studio, creating tracks and cadging them away. Erk initially taught himself how to make beats because he couldn't find enough producers who fit his aesthetic sensibility. Now he produces most of his own work and also shapes the sound of Berkeley-based R&B artist Netta B. The Hood Nerd EP established Erk as a disser and satirist, but in the coming years he'll hopefully have a lot more to offer.

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