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Ray Cash 

Clangin' and Swangin' (myspace.com/raycash)

Cleveland's Ray Cash made his major-label splash in '06, but he wasn't the only local success story. The Kickdrums (producers Matt "Tilla" Pentilla and Alex "Fitty" Fitts) continued their ascent to the industry's upper echelon. And on this mixtape, the team gives Cash a valuable assist.

Most of Clangin' features the Kickdrums' productions left off Cash's Sony debut, C.O.D. But these don't sound like leftovers, and some of them -- notably the slowed-down, menacing flip of the Wu-Tang classic "C.R.E.A.M." -- deserve to be heard. And while Cash's drawl already sounds far more seasoned than it did on C.O.D. , Clangin' is as much a showcase for the Kickdrums. The duo's versatility, which encompasses both East Coast grit and Midwest swing, is going to earn them a lot of callbacks in the new year. Buy this mixtape, and say you heard 'em first.

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