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Most Multi-Talented Musician 

Kev Choice

Very few rappers play instruments. Most musicians couldn't rhyme a sixteen-bar verse if their lives depended on it. Yet Kev Choice is equally adept at both rapping and music theory, making him an anomaly whose talent traverses several genres. A classically trained pianist raised in Oakland, Choice studied jazz at New Orleans' Xavier University before earning a master's degree in music. But instead of entering the staid world of academia, he returned to his hometown and became an in-demand sideman for numerous local artists, from Tony Toni Toné to Too $hort. After a stint as the bandleader for Lauryn Hill, Choice currently leads a twelve-piece jazz outfit, the Kev Choice Ensemble, and holds down keyboard duties as a member of Oakland R&B/funk/soul supergroup Town Business (also featuring singer Sylk-E, rapper Too $hort, and bassist Elijah Baker). But musical chops are only one aspect of his repertoire. In addition to his jazz and classical background, he's a card-carrying member of the hip-hop generation. He not only plays jazz with a hip-hop attitude, but is a skilled rapper himself, and is currently putting the finishing touches on his solo debut, The Broken Mold. Though streetwise, his lyrics put a positive spin on the rap genre, whether celebrating the Bay Area's wealth of local talent ("Bay Diamonds") or paying tribute to Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama ("Obama Song"). The first time you see Choice follow a blazing lyrical verse with a highly musical piano flourish, you'll likely be awestruck; after a while, you'll realize that his music is "Kevolutionary."
(Sorry, no information is currently available for other years in this same award category.)

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