Best Rapper-Producer

Erk tha Jerk

Local ‘hood nerd Erk tha Jerk experienced fleeting popularity last year
when two of his songs — the hyphy diss “I’m So Dumb” and the
slow-paced slumper “Don’t Need ‘Em” — spent a few weeks in
regular rotation on KMEL. A couple months later he dropped an even
better track, “Plane in the Air,” which featured guest vocals by Too
$hort and a noisy, disorienting beat that paired a snare drum with a
weird honking sound. With those three songs alone, Erk established
himself as a force to be reckoned with. He has a distinctive, growly
voice, odd bar flows, snarly lyrics, and a wry sense of humor —
(“Don’t Need ‘Em” includes a well-placed sample from Snoop Dogg’s
“Ain’t No Fun (If the Homies Can’t Have None).”) Moreover, he generated
an image and a cult of personality that other rappers are constantly
trying to imitate (the popular Los Angeles group New Boyz might have
ripped their skinny-jeans look and “I’m a Jerk” anthem from someone
other than Erk, but the similarity is fishy enough that Erk had to
clown them on his MySpace page). Erk hasn’t released many new solo
tracks this year, but he’s been hard at work in the studio, creating
tracks and cadging them away. Erk initially taught himself how to make
beats because he couldn’t find enough producers who fit his aesthetic
sensibility. Now he produces most of his own work and also shapes the
sound of Berkeley-based R&B artist Netta B. The Hood Nerd EP
established Erk as a disser and satirist, but in the coming years he’ll
hopefully have a lot more to offer.

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