Best Thugged-Out Rapper from Tha Town 

Keak Da Sneak

Oakland's street-level raconteur Keak Da Sneak is a prototypical antihero for the new millennium, a grimy street cat whose words drip with ghetto realism. While so-called thug rappers like Jay-Z and Ja Rule receive mainstream exposure and platinum plaques for their watered-down efforts, people like Keak are defining the essence of street credibility. Keak, a former member of onetime major label act 3X Krazy, has a loyal underground fan base that could give a hoot or less about whoever's in rotation at the big corporate commercial station; it's all about what's bumping at the sideshow. Keak's appeal is also easy to explain: His persona is 100 percent thug, with all the danger and drama that implies. No wonder his tapes and CDs sell like hotcakes. Perhaps more importantly, he is the latest in a long line of East Oakland-identified indie artists to tell it like it is and be respected for it. Call it playa or gangsta rap if you must, just know that Keak's reverence among the younger generation knows no bounds -- think of him as an inner-city Mike Wallace, a no-nonsense reporter who's not afraid to get mean when the situation calls for it.


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