Best Rap Group

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The fact that Oakland rappers Squadda B and Mondre M.A.N. can best their peers without focusing too intently on their lyrics (they mostly fixate on weed, swagger, women, and hustling, occasionally name-checking civil rights heroes) is testament to the importance of delivery in hip-hop. The two are, indeed, fluid and capable rappers, intoning their lines in a light conversational slur, and always sitting in the pocket of the beat. Their beats, for that matter, are beautiful. The duo's 2011 mixtape, 808s & Dark Grapes II, features beats by a wide roster of producers, all of them trafficking in a high-treble haze that's quite unlike the blues-based hip-hop of twenty years ago. Marlee B, Friendzone, Keyboard Kid, AHYVE, Silky Johnson, Floyd Waybetter, Giorgio MoMurda, Clams Casino, NoaBoa, and Bux Productions all participated in that album, but the palette is remarkably consistent. It's got all the signifiers of contemporary "cloud rap" — a murky, melodic sound; 808 percussion; and orchestration that occasionally overpowers the vocals — and the added benefit of two incredibly nimble emcees.

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