Best Hip-Hop Act: Mic Terror

The Reader’s Choice: Mic Terror

“Swagger” has to be the most overused word in hip-hop today—your mom’s probably waiting for a good moment to drop it into conversation—and even after it goes out of style, the ineffable combination of skill, style, and braggadocio will remain the single most crucial quality of a good MC. Mic Terror has swagger to spare. He had it when was just some dude catching a bit of reflected shine off the Cool Kids; he had it when he got his first bump of national exposure via a beef with east-coast rapper Mazzi, who was dissing the tight-pants-wearing ungangsta hip-hop scene that Terror’s part of; and he really started swinging it around after a consensus emerged that the battle had been a Mic Terror victory. His cockiness isn’t unjustified: he’s one of the most classically talented MCs in the hipster-hop insurgence, with a clearheaded flow packed with lyrical hooks that’ll crack you up or leave you with your mouth hanging open (after you’ve had a couple seconds to figure them out) and a bit of Nas’s gift for dissing people so hard that you feel bad for them. He’s tight with gifted local producer Million Dollar Mano, which ensures him a steady supply of top-shelf beats, and their collaboration has already given Terror a bona fide local classic—”Juke Them Hoes,” a raunchy banger that reliably drives Chicago club crowds absolutely bonkers. All he needs is the right guest spot on the right rapper’s single and he’ll be stirring up dance floors all over the world. —Miles Raymer

&Our readers’ choice: Project Mayhem