Best Unsigned Band (2004)
Freedom Sold From the funky whiteys and their rap-rock hybrids, to the experimental East Coasters and their off-kilter patterns, to the crunk pioneers of the Southeast with their ultra-aggro approach to the art, it's hard to say just what hip-hop is these days. It's gone way past two turntables and a microphone, but Houston's Freedom Sold knew that eight years ago. Incorporating noisy, Sonic Youth/Pussy Galore-style guitars, out-of-this-world turntablism, chaotic beats and sometimes scary samples, the duo of rapper-guitarist Kwame Anderson and DJ Space Ghost create their own distinct sound that stretches the boundaries of hip-hop without venturing too far from its basic aesthetic. And it works. Their live show is a barrage of political-speak and feedback, layered with deft scratches, pumping beats and more energy than any Houston rapper has ever displayed. Not for the syrup-sippin' set, these guys are more for the intellectual, dope-smoking, coffee-drinking crowd.