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Hyphiest Hip-Hop Artist 

Rick Rock

A combination of the adjectives "fly" and "hyper," the slang term "hyphy" blazed outta Oakland, marinated in San Francisco and Fairfield, then emerged on the national radar as a worthy successor to the Dirty South-derived term "crunk." While numerous local artists and groups in the last year released songs with "hyphy" in the title, none proved more ubiquitous than the Federation's "Hyphy," whose frantic lyrics were perfectly matched to its energetic-and-then-some beat by veteran producer Rick Rock, whose credits include tracks for Tupac, Jay-Z, Busta Rhymes, Xzibit, and Fabolous. A one-man beat factory, Rock birthed a new sound practically by himself, helming the Federation's eponymous debut as well as being the guy behind the boards for hella knockin' local hits by Turf Talk, E-40, and Keak da Sneak, to name a few. More than any other local artist, Bay Area rap's undisputed A-list producer deserves the credit for bringing the slaps (his trademarked combination of funky handclaps, swirling keyboards, and thunderous bass) that made hyphy into the sonicultural phenomenon it was in 2004, but stay tuned -- Rock's next project, which reportedly features Vallejo balla E-40 together with Atlanta crunkster Lil' Jon, could result in the need to create an entirely new superlative to describe it.

Readers' Picks:
E-40
Sokrates
Collectiv.com

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

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