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BEST HIP-HOP ARTIST Minneapolis 2001 - Musab

Readers' Choice: Atmosphere

Sometimes the best way to act defensive is to be offensive. "My music ain't for liberals/I make cuts for the streets," declares Musab on his newest EP Actin' Rich (Rhymesayers Entertainment), adding, for the benefit of liberals, "So playing me is like the cops bumpin' '[Fuck] tha Police.'" Later, as if to prove his point, he starts dispensing pimp advice so dry-eyed it makes Too Short sound like a sentimental fool. "It's not about the sex," he emphasizes on "Guard Your Harem," it's about power and financial security. Yet the exotic guitar sample (courtesy of Rhymesayers production wizard Ant) and schoolyard chorus are built to seduce more than would-be sultans. "I've been watching you/You've been watching me," the MC singsongs. "From across the room I can see you stare/Just give me a second, dear, and I'll be there." It's as if the track took the warmest voice from the deep end of the local rap pool to spell out the simplest and most delicious of hip hop's many contradictions: namely, that this music, ostensibly geared to "the streets" and to men, panders directly and explicitly to liberals and women. No matter that Musab declares his emotional sovereignty from same: "I will tell no lies," he raps, "All I say is true/I don't want no girl/I'm only out for dough/But if you work it I will go with you." Just as many rookie cops love N.W.A.'s murder fantasies, plenty of female hip-hop fans take this pimp-ho business as sexual play-acting and fantasy. No wonder many local hip-hop fans see Musab as the next big export. As iconoclastic and even-keeled as any God-fearing, penny-pinching street poet, he can take us or leave us, and will probably do both.

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