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BEST HIP-HOP DJ Minneapolis 2006 - Willy Lose

It's hard to imagine the entire hip-hop scene agreeing with this choice—even humble Willy Lose himself, or his fellow Unknown Prophets. There are too many battle champions (Jimmy2Times), radio stars (Disco T), and absent legends (IXL). Yet what Lose has, and what others don't, is a new rap CD on which you notice him. Credit Unknown Prophets with giving him room to cut and scratch on their hot, independently released The Road Less Traveled—starting with "Time to Move Forward," a track with Lose scratching what sounds like Phife Dog rapping "killin' it." Most turntablists come into their own as solo party-starters, but fade into the background as crew members. Onstage with rappers, the DJ is a cosmetic addition: the person who presses "play" and then makes himself look busy as the "show CD" does its job. By contrast, Willy Lose engages in back-and-forth with rappers: He sets the pace, interacts with songs. He's a real concert presence, not just along for the ride. As if for emphasis, earlier this year he put on a chicken costume at the end of the group's sold-out CD-release show. Lose might not assert the dominance of the DJ in hip hop's early years, but he evens the playing field a little.

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