Editor's note: There is some language in these selections that may be unsuitable for young folks.
1. "Cadillac on 22's" by David Banner (SRC/Universal, 2003). Lavell Crump was born in Jackson and eventually swiped his internationally known stage name from the doctor who turned into The Incredible Hulk. Although the rapper, producer, actor, and Mississippi Musicians' Hall of Famer has a song on more than one album named after the state, this blues-tinged breakthrough is his best.
2. "Hometown Hero" by Big K.R.I.T. (Self-released, 2011). A twenty-five-year-old emcee/producer from Meridian who holds one of the most promising voices in Southern rap at the moment, his debut album (due out on the legendary Def Jam label in early 2012) is expected to lift him to even greater national prominence.
3. "Neva Sked" by Reese & Bigalow (Mo-Biga, 2003). This wonderfully aggressive tune heralded an era of crunk-club anthems in Atlanta when it was released from a local by the name of Bone Crusher. But the song originally belonged to this duo that has among its writing credits a rap song for BBC documentary-filmmaker Louis Theroux.
4. "Tupelo" by Crooked Lettaz (Penalty Recordings, 1999). Banner and Kamikaze formed this before-their-time partnership and released one lone album, Grey Skies. This early preview into Mississippi rap creeps over an infectiously sung hook and a somber, sampled melody that sounds lifted from the dirge "Taps."
5. "Why So Serious?" by Tha Joker (Self-released, 2010). Twenty-one years old, unsigned, and from Kosciusko, Tha Joker has been building his buzz through his determined delivery on a mixtape series named after The Dark Knight.
6. "Look At Me" by Cadillac Don & J-Money featuring Bun B (35*35 Entertainment, 2006). This particularly flamboyant ode to showing off is buoyed by a guest appearance from one half of Texas duo UGK, a stamp of approval from one of the rulers of the region.
7. "Money Power Respect" by Kamikaze a.k.a. The Franchise (OurGlass Entertainment, 2007). More evidence of Banner's reach, this one features his former partner in Crooked Lettaz, who sounds his most self-assured here on this instantly memorable anthem.
8. "Stressed Out" by Lil Mal (Self-released, 2010). A colleague of Tha Joker, Lil Mal is grinding through the mixtape scene, but not without expressing in this song the travails of trying to make it in the now seemingly nonexistent music industry.
9. "I Put on for My City" by Mississippi Queen (Self-released, 2011). Born in Belzoni, the artist alternately known as Black China Doll provides some estrogen for the largely male-dominated rap scene. But she sounds anything but soft.
10. "How to Rob 2011" by Young Porter (Self-released, 2010). An aspiring artist from Bude revives a concept originally created by New York rapper 50 Cent, a gritty-yet-funny account of what he'd do to relieve the purse strings of contemporary artists like Nicki Minaj and Waka Flocka Flame.