After sorting the mail, painstakingly assessing the applications, arguing viciously about their merits, getting drunk, sleeping it off, and then agonizing over the decision for weeks, we here at New Times are finally set to announce our 2011 MasterMind Awards finalists.
In the sound category, we've got Harvard-educated hip-hopper Black Bobby, record-label-slash-booking-agency Roofless Records, and electro mastermind Panic Bomber. Check Cultist for a peek at the finalists in the Visual and Narrative categories.
On February 10, one artist from each category will get a big fat check for $1500 at New Times' annual Artopia bash.
Some hip-hoppers have to ditch the dope game. But not Black Bobby -- he had to leave behind a buttoned-up life among the East Coast's political elite. Armed with a master's degree in public policy from Harvard, a razor-sharp mind, and even sharper tongue, Bobby began his career with a consulting firm in Cambridge, Massachussetts. Soon, though, he got bored and quit, relocating to Miami where he officially launched this rap thing. And as Bobby personally attests, he's "been on a mission ever since," organizing for Obama, managing his record label Square Biz Entertainment, and dropping banging, brainy mixtapes like the recent 26-track slab, Negro Dialect.
The internet is killing the music industry, along with nerdy pursuits such as record collecting. But luckily, there remain a few savagely dedicated producers of musical ephemera in this world. And one lofty local example is Roofless Records, an underground outfit run by Miami natives Matt Preira and Dana Bassett. To date, the duo has released three cassettes, two seven-inch vinyl discs, a pair of LPs, and a very special CD-R dedicated to Lebron James. Other notable Roofless achievements include the New Times award for 2010's Best Record Label in Miami and helping Sweat Records bring American Hardcore author Steven Blush to the 305 for a seminar on punk history.
Hijacking his name from an old Nintendo videogame, local electronic music producer Panic Bomber (AKA Richard Haig) exploded out of Miami's underground in 2009 with a pair of EPs, Calling in Threats and Getting on My Mind. Full of furiously blenderized electro, tech-house, trance, punk, and pop, these early outbursts earned him the New Times award for Best New Electronica Artist. But the Bomber didn't stop there, digging deep and following up with Discipline, one of our ten favorite albums of 2010.