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Saturday, July 4, 2009


T.I.The self-proclaimed king of southern hip-hop, T.I. has built a career off catchy nihilism that banks on both self-determination and dope-boy darkness. The frequently incarcerated Atlanta native is small in stature, ill-tempered and walks with the swagger of Jay-Z, a combination that prompts his critics to dub him hip-hop's Napoleon. His first offering, 2001's I'm Serious, didn't exactly burn up the charts, but it featured production from the Neptunes and displayed a tenderness that subsequent releases would downplay. In many ways, 2003's Trap Muzik was T.I.'s official unveiling; the irresistible single "Rubber Band Man" served as a raison d'etre of sorts for the star. After doing a bid in prison for cocaine charges, he returned in 2004 with the comparatively cheery Urban Legend. Sometime between the release of that album and 2006's King, he had begun to challenge 50 Cent and Eminem as the most famous emcee in the world. T.I.'s next album, 2007's T.I. vs. T.I.P., explored the division between the rapper's street persona and his corporate interest. It continued to cement his status as the king.
- Sam Chennault

Bone Thugs-N-HarmonyFormed in 1993, this Cleveland-based crew first caught the ear of Eazy-E and, subsequently, the nation. Their trademark double and triple-time sung/rapped harmonies brought something new to the table at a time when most acts were busy trying to imitate The Chronic. Their unique sound prompted multi-platinum record sales, won them a Grammy, and brought the spotlight to the long-neglected Midwestern hip-hop community.
- Brolin Winning

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