Best Hip-Hop Artist

Black Spade

Black Spade does not want to be lauded as the best hip-hop artist in St. Louis. If he had his druthers, he would share the honor with a dozen different members of his crew, the Force. Still, while all of them are incredibly talented artists in their own right, Spade's on another level. His production work, done under the name Stoney Rock, sounds like the futuristic hybrid of J Dilla and Madlib. His rhymes are sincere and insightful. His singing is a soulful style all its own. His mixtape Build and Destroy is one of the year's best, because it fuses the divergent styles of several Force members into one cohesive work of art. And so Spade deserves his praise — not just for being the best, but also for bringing the best out of his peers.

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