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BEST HIP-HOP ARTIST Minneapolis 2003 - Mooka

Readers' Choice: Atmosphere

Never mind that she hails from Chicago: Mooka has adopted Minnesota, and we've adopted her. At the Red Sea in November, at a party held by her Minneapolis label, Wild Side Records, the 22-year-old did something more than hold her own against more experienced male MCs onstage. North Minneapolis rapper Contac has a voice, sure (part B Real, part Big Boi, all big), and a look (the lazy eye he raps about). But Mooka has charisma--so much that she makes Contac look like Biggie to her Kim, and without any desperate show of skin, either. Formerly known as Maniac MC, the woman is too confident to pander--though "Shag It" is as nasty as they come. And her husky voice is powerful enough to pull off a dizzying array of bouncy styles on a forthcoming debut album, Get It from Here, recorded in Minneapolis with cameos from Contac, Stokely from Mint Condition, and others. Keep your eye on this baller.

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