Best Hip-Hop Artist (2009)

Muja Messiah

The Twin Cities' reputation as fertile grounds for underground hip hop is well-deserved and hard-earned, and it has resulted in a number of classic albums. But we could always use more hip hop that hits the streets and clubs as hard as it hits the headphones, and Muja Messiah spent most of 2008 emphatically claiming that sprawling turf. After dropping the buzzed-about MPLS Massacre mixtape last March—where his collaboration with M.anifest resulted in one of the best tracks to rock the "Paper Planes" beat—Muja Messiah kept his momentum going strong with Thee Adventures of a B-Boy D-Boy, full of the cocky charisma of someone who's been waiting too long for a spotlight. The Raw Villa vet more than held his own alongside the Roots' Black Thought, rocked the mic over Def Leppard guitars ("Tha Madness") and Southern soul swagger ("Look at 'Em Go"), dropped what may stand for years as the definitive Minneapolis club-rap anthem in "Get Fresh," and still had the breadth to get revelatory about his upbringing ("What's This World Coming To"; "Growing Pains") and his politics ("Patriot Act"). The man isn't hesitant to boast, but any MC of his caliber who could survive the Bush era and come out stronger for it deserves to shoot his mouth off when he can.


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