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 Timbaland's rocking to a tune only he can hear ...

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 "Let me explain something to America: Money don't make you happy." ...

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 "I guess when you be here [in Virginia], you create your own musical world." ...

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 Some vocalizing candidates for the VA Hip-Hop Hall of Fame ...

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The VA Hall Of Fame

We've told you about the producers Virginia has to brag about — but the state's hip-hop legacy includes the mic, too. Here are a few VA voices that have left lasting impressions.

Missy Elliott
City: Portsmouth

Rep: Rapper/singer/producer/songwriter/ music-video visionary

Albums: Supa Dupa Fly (1997), Da Real World (1999), Miss E ... So Addictive (2001), Under Construction (2002), This Is Not a Test! (2003), The Cookbook (2005).

Highlights: It's been 10 years since Missy burst out with her debut, Supa Dupa Fly — and she remains not just the first but the only woman from her neck of the woods to break out nationally. She's also probably the most successful hip-hop performer, male or female, VA has seen. Through the last decade she's emerged as a hip-hop icon with creative, conceptual LPs, songs and videos — and she's one of the very few female rappers to score multiple platinum plaques.

Chris Brown
City: Tappahannock

Rep: Singer/teen heart throb/arguably the best dancer in music today

Albums: Chris Brown (2005), new LP due this year.

Highlights: Brown's career seems charmed so far. Don't get us wrong, anybody who dances that well (look no further than his near-show-stealing spots at last week's Grammy Awards) obviously works hard, but the 17 year old has been able to make all the right moves. Besides a string of hits from his first — and to date only — album (which is still going strong 18 months after its release), he's headlined a couple of tours, appeared in box-office best-seller "Stomp the Yard" and stars in the family flick "This Christmas" (due in theaters ... this Christmas!). Brown's sophomore album is slated for later this year.

The Clipse
City: Virginia Beach

Rep: The grittiest MCs to come out of VA yet

Albums: Lord Willin' (2002), Hell Hath No Fury (2006).

Highlights: While both albums were helmed by the Neptunes, Hell Hath No Fury is a real step up from the group's first effort. The problem is, due to label politics, it took four years to get the album out. All that aside, brothers Malice and Pusha T ended last year with one of the strongest offerings of 2006, and their street status remains intact. With a third album and Re-Up Gang (which is comprised of the Clipse and rappers Sandman and Ab-Liva) compilation cooking up now, 2007 could finally see their hard-earned breakthrough.

City: Newport News, a.k.a. Bad Newz

Rep: Poetic MC with deep thoughts — and harmony.

Albums: Debut LP due this year.

Highlights: Quan has been on the VA underground scene for years and has earned a following for his lyrical prowess; he's also turned heads and kept ears tuned in with his singing talent. In 2004 he signed to Nas' Ill Will label and appeared on two cuts from Nas' Street's Disciple LP, including the impactful "Just a Moment." While waiting his turn, Quan has been recording with Nas and some other heavy hitters — hopefully we'll hear the results later this year.

Trey Songz
City: Petersburg

Rep: Singer/R&B sex symbol

Albums: I Gotta Make (2005), Trey Day (due May 2007).

Highlights: The self-proclaimed "Prince of VA" has been getting cosigns from legends since he entered the game. On his first album, Gerald Levert and Aretha Franklin gave their stamps of approval to his soulful stylings, and on his new LP, the 22-year-old has been working under the tutelage of Dru Hill's Nokio and the Pied Piper of R&B himself, R. Kelly (who produced and wrote a couple of songs). Songz recently released the album's first single, "Wonder Woman."


Rep: Reclusive mainstay of neo-soul movement/ riveting live performer

Albums: Brown Sugar (1995), Voodoo (2000).

Highlights: When D'Angelo actually decides to perform, there's no one else like him. His first two albums — the only albums he's released in his 12-year career — are classics, and listening to them is a spiritual experience. But much to his fans' chagrin, he's like his neo-soul contemporaries Erykah Badu, Maxwell and Bilal in that it takes him years and years to complete albums. The mysterious singer recently popped up on the hook of Snoop Dogg's "Imagine" (which also features Dr. Dre), but whether it marks the beginning of a long-awaited return — or is just another tease from the beloved artist — remains to be seen.

Skillz, a.k.a. Mad Skillz
City: Richmond

Rep: Freestyle specialist/ghost writer for other rappers

Albums: From Where??? (1995), Confessions of a Ghostwriter (2005)

Highlights: Although superstardom has eluded him thus far, Skillz has longevity that cannot be argued. The transplanted Detroit native's off-the-dome rhyming has remained lethal, and his guest appearance on Aaliyah's "Are You That Somebody?" has helped keep the cut a certified classic. Over the last three years, his hilarious freestyles, "Rap Up," have been heralded, and Skillz has a DVD, mixtape and proper album coming this year. You can always catch him on the road though, touring with the likes of DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Roots.

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Photo: MTV News

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