Best Technical Rapper

Photograph by Darrow Montgomery
yU probably isn’t comfortable with honors from local alt-weeklies. In a scene full of hard-bragging strivers, the Suitland, Md., rapper—the self-proclaimed “humble king”—stands out as an anti-star. He writes unassuming lyrics with confessional themes, and augurs respect from factions across the DMV because of his head-down, working-class ethos and unimpeachable delivery. At times, the Diamond District member is happy to share space with the music, letting it swell around him in a flurry of dusty drum loops and obscure movie clips. But that doesn’t mean he can’t kill a verse. “Making noise is what y’all do, I’m making points/Sharp with the art of hip-hop, giving change a voice,” yU rhymes on his stellar sophomore album, the EARN. With a few projects on the horizon—an album with his group The 1978ers and the long-awaited follow-up to Diamond District’s In The Ruff—we’ll probably hear more thoughtful rhymes from the modest MC soon. The humble king reigns supreme.