Best DJ: Felix da Housecat
Long before electroclash became the flavor of the month for theclub set, Felix Da Housecat was an average Chicago houseproducer/DJ: worshiped overseas and virtually ignored on the homefront. But with 2002's electro-fueled Kittenz and TheeGlitz, Felix knocked the U.S. dance scene out of itstrance-induced haze. He layered '80s robo funk and sweepingnew-wave synths over irresistible beats, adding the icy vocals ofdiva Miss Kittin. The singles "Silver Screen Shower Scene" and"Madame Hollywood" became club staples. Madonna asked him to remix"Die Another Day," her title theme for the latest James Bondfilm--further proof that Felix is the coolest thing since neon legwarmers.
Anti-Britneys, Osbourne spawn, the '80s--the styles, scandals, and movies that made the year so darn memorable
Best DJ: Felix da Housecat
Long before electroclash became the flavor of the month for the club set, Felix Da Housecat was an average Chicago house producer/DJ: worshiped overseas and virtually ignored on the home front. But with 2002's electro-fueled Kittenz and Thee Glitz, Felix knocked the U.S. dance scene out of its trance-induced haze. He layered '80s robo funk and sweeping new-wave synths over irresistible beats, adding the icy vocals of diva Miss Kittin. The singles "Silver Screen Shower Scene" and "Madame Hollywood" became club staples. Madonna asked him to remix "Die Another Day," her title theme for the latest James Bond film--further proof that Felix is the coolest thing since neon leg warmers.
Best Artist: Eminem
In 2000, Slim Shady stirred up controversy. In 2001, he tried to transcend it. In 2002, he got wise: He turned it inside out. The Eminem Show, by far the biggest-selling album of the year, turned made-for-cable melodrama into epic tragedy. "Without Me" was celebrity spin control spinning out of control; "Cleanin' Out My Closet" was the teary eye of the tornado. You couldn't help but get sucked into the shit storm. And just when you wondered if Em was going to fall apart, along came his film debut, 8 Mile, the Purple Rain move that suggested Marshall was in it for the long haul. In ten years, they'll be publishing his diaries, but he'll still be around to cash in on the film rights.
Feuds: With the platinum still rolling in, rappers, producers, and their posses should've been all smiles. So why was hip-hop at war with itself throughout 2002?
It all started with baby pictures. Jay-Z couldn't have known that he was igniting a genre-shaking trend when he flashed photos of a boy in ballet gear on the JumboTron at Summer Jam 2001 (hosted by New York City radio station Hot 97 FM). But the boy in question was Mobb Deep's chief nutcracker, Prodigy, and the concert set off a rhyme war that would engulf a slew of top MCs and dominate hip-hop in 2002.
During the past year, the rap world has been transformed into a playground basketball game: a lot of choosing sides and even more trash talk. The main event was the post-Biggie King of New York battle, chiefly between Jay-Z and Nas (1), who fired off new rounds (Nas' "Ether" and Jay-Z's "Super Ugly"). Blame it on the lure of free publicity, slow record sales, or plain bad blood, but dis songs and feud-fueling mix tapes were, perhaps sadly, home to the year's most creative hip-hop.
Recent months have seen several disputes of varying relevance and tension: On his Murder Inc. murdergram "Ruled Out," DMX disses Ja Rule as his mere "hype man" and suggests that Rule, despite his writhing around in videos with Ashanti, is gay. In response, Rule called DMX a "bitch," adding a variety of cryptic threats. Nas walked out on Summer Jam 2002 when Hot 97 nixed his plans to hang a Jay-Z doll in effigy. On the night of the concert, Nas visited rival station Power 105.1 FM to complain about the sorry state of radio programming and Def Jam's stranglehold on the rap industry. Then he indulged in a bit of music criticism, dissecting a current Jay-Z confrere's work: "[Cam'ron's] a good lyricist, but the album is wack, man." Elsewhere, KRS-One and Nelly (2) traded lyrical barbs about the Blastmaster's significance and Mr. "Hot in Herre"'s authenticity. Dr. Dre and Eminem took shots at diminutive Atlanta hitmaker Jermaine Dupri (3) after the So So Def CEO claimed in a magazine article that not even Dre could match his platinum touch. Since being freed from jail, former Death Row Records don Suge Knight has claimed that Dre is gay and that Snoop Dogg has throat cancer.
Some don't think these feuds are such fun and games, especially after the still-unsolved killings of Christopher "the Notorious B.I.G." Wallace and Tupac Shakur. "Hip-hop is fucked-up right now," says controversial radio host Star of the Star & Buc Wild Morning Show on Hot 97, which is in its own feud with Power 105.1 (Hot 97 DJ Funkmaster Flex was accused of punching Power105.1 female DJ Steph Lova). "Nobody has anything useful to say," continues Star, somberly. "Everybody's looking for an edge, a little publicity. People want to see bloodshed; they want spectacle. I got kids calling my show asking, 'When's this guy gonna catch a bullet?' It's crazy."
Best TV Show: The Osbournes
Beleaguered iron man Ozzy Osbourne has probably experienced more suffering in the last ten months of his life than in his previous 666 years--and then came his wife Sharon's announcement that she had colon cancer. Despite speculation that the news could derail MTV'slatest gravy train, The Osbournes quickly returned for a second season, never flinching from the undistorted truth of its subjects, whether it's Sharon coping with chemotherapy or Jack and Kelly cursing out their ever-lovin' parents for the thousandth fucking time. No doubt the show will spawn many awful imitators, but a tragicomedy like E!'s Anna Nicole Show only serves to remind us of The Osbournes' winning modesty--more a joyous celebration of life's trials and trivialities than, well, a black sabbath.