Best Hip-Hop Artist - 2004
Readers' Choice: Eminem
Not many rappers choose to operate with their given names, but this young, part-time Browardite (he spends a few months out of the year in L.A.) keeps it real real. To his credit, West doesn't need a stereotypical appellation like Professor Murder, MC Nightmare, or Dr. Drastic. Even without a fancy handle, the 25-year-old remains one of the highest-profile, independent, hip-hop upstarts around. What does he rap about? The thug thang, dog. What else? Though he's been featured in The Source, XXL, Ozone, and other glossy bastions of hip-hop literature, West still gets absolutely no love from his hometown police department. The Sunrise cops routinely target his Chevy Caprice for traffic stops, a topic he's sure to address on his upcoming disc, A Westside Story Chapter One. Until then, West is keeping his profile high, winning a sponsorship from ThugLife Clothing and making an appearance on MTV's new show Pimp My Ride.