Best Hip-Hop Album - 2009
3 the Hardway, Set in Stone
Colorado rapper A.V.I.U.S., producer Es-Nine and DJ Cysko Rokwel each had their own thing going on before they came together as 3 the Hardway: Cysko Rokwel was taking out DJs nationwide in the DMC Championships; Es-Nine was producing for local and national artists; and A.V.I.U.S. had just dropped his solid debut album, Patience. But with all three talents combined in one package, you couldn't ask for a more thorough project, from Es-Nine's hard-hitting beats and A.V.I.U.S.'s heart-on-his-sleeve lyrics to Cysko making the DJ essential in hip-hop albums again. If you cop one Colorado hip-hop disc all year, this is the one to get.