DeLima attended his first regional DMC competition as a 14-year-old spectator in 2001. Three years later, he'd win, qualifying for the national DMC championship. In 2005, he won that in San Francisco and was summarily kicked out of the 21-and-over club as soon as he grabbed his trophy. He would then go on to place third at the international competition in London. In 2006, he took the two biggest remaining U.S. titles on the battle circuit at the Gong Supremacy and Scribble Jam championships. By 19, he was done, ready to concentrate on his own original music. And he had moved to Miami Beach—for peace and quiet.

"I'm traveling a lot of times during the week, so I love to keep this place in Miami for a feeling of home," DeLima says. "This is my space to relax." It seems that his enviable precociousness has led him to find one of the city's few quiet, pedestrian-friendly pockets amid the chaos.

I-Dee's got big plans for his own musical productions, genre- and media-crossing creations. For example, industrial rock remixed on the decks in a truly humorous, faux-horror video? Sure, why not, and it works. So he's holed up in the lab, doggedly working to finish his first album of all original material, due out next year.

Scarface, Houston
Scarface, Houston

Still, as any worthy party selector, record collector and post-modern music-maker, DeLima devours new music like Tic-Tacs. But as a true child of turntablism's cut-and-paste ethos, he's more into individual tracks than complete albums.

"Honestly, the last album I listened to in its entirety was Chromeo's Fancy Footwork [released this past June on Vice Records]," he says. "In the new digital age and as a DJ, I usually download the singles that I need, and if there's more than one song that grabs my attention, I'll download the whole album. That happens very rarely for me personally, though."

Here, then, are his favorite 2007 bangers.

Talib Kweli, "Hot Thing" remix, featuring Ne-Yo and Jean Grae

"Jean Grae is about to be revealed to a lot of mainstream hip-hop fans and really bring back the female MC. Nowadays, the majority of them are in trouble with one thing or another. She's been around for quite sometime, however. Be sure to look out for her major debut on Kweli's label, Blacksmith."

Justice, "D.A.N.C.E." Benny Blanco remix featuring Mos Def and Spank Rock

"Definitely one of the best songs of 2007 for me. The remix, though, features the mighty Mos Def, B-More/Philly booty-mover Spank Rock and production from 19-year-old Benny Blanco. Cop the Bangers & Cash EP from Benny and Spank while you're at it."

RJD2, "You Never Had It So Good"

"RJD2 goes a different route this time around with his latest album, The Third Hand, by singing on a majority of his tracks rather than strictly producing. The reason I liked this song is because I believe he got a sample off Super Mario RPG for SNES, It had me thinking back to '95/'96."

DJ I-Dee, "Eclectic Dreams" featuring Rites of Ash

"The first single off my upcoming debut album on Adiar Cor Records. It features Rites of Ash, an industrial rock band from Washington, D.C. Be sure to check the music video for it on YouTube, as well as my album coming in 2008."

Tay Zonday, "Chocolate Rain"

"Best song of the year. Hypnotizing. 'Nuff said."

Madlib, "Movie Finale"

"This is one of those songs that I'll play over and over during a long drive. Very soothing and has a slight Bollywood feel to it. Check Madlib's Beat Konducta Vol. 3-4: In India on Stones Throw." —Arielle Castillo

Cleveland

Electric Avenue

Cleveland doesn't have celebrities. That's why our contribution to this year-end roundup is star-free. The biggest thing we've got (next to LeBron James, who was too busy playing basketball or something to talk to us) is the stripper-lovin' host of The Price Is Right, Drew Carey. But we're pretty sure he couldn't be pried away from his medical marijuana crusade to chat music.

Besides, Cleveland's real stars are the people who make the city what it is: Clevelanders—the working-class, beer-drinking, music-lovin' guys and gals who don't need People magazine to make them famous. A couple shots of Jameson and Bruce on the jukebox work just as well, thank you.

Artie the Electrician (Local Union 38) is a bandana-sporting 43-year-old Lakewood native and father of four who's played in a number of Cleveland-area bands over the years (including the Cheese Farmers, Ass Crack Holiday and Buddy Holly's Nipple — all excellently named, by the way). He also was Michael Stipe in the longtime R.E.M. cover band Radio Free Europe "before they came out with their commercial sellout bullshit," he says.

Artie is a lifelong music nut. He thinks most modern stuff blows ("Daughtry? I just wanna slap him, call him a sissy and send him home"), but doesn't just dismiss it like most guys his age do. He's heard many of the post-Radiohead bands; he just doesn't like them.

Everyone from dead bluesmen to the almost-dead Rolling Stones to the very alive Kelly Clarkson comes up in our conversation. Artie offers to hand over his MP3 player several times—presumably because a whopping 40 gigs of tunes will reveal just how extensive his tastes really are. The mere mention of a band (say, Primus) is typically met with, "I got one of their CDs in my truck."

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