BEST FUTURE RAP CEO
Odds are you've not yet heard of East Bay teen hip-hop talent Yung Nittlz but one day soon you will. The ambitious, gifted Berkeley High student has already amassed five albums worth of smooth and funky material that he wrote, produced, and rapped and sang on. In August 2007, when he was just 13, the rapper born Nyles Roberson scored media attention when Showtime at the Apollo auditions came to town and he was spotted very first in line, having camped out the night before. And while Yung Nittlz wasn't among the lucky final few to be picked, he did make a lasting impression on the judges with his strong performance of the song "Money in the Air" and choreography that included him strategically tossing custom-made promo dollars that he designed and made. The gifted artist also designed the professional-looking cover for his latest demo CD, which suggests fans should request the hit-sounding "Feelin' U" on KMEL 106 FM. Stay tuned. You'll likely be hearing it soon.
BEST B-MOVIE SURVIVOR
The crappy economy has ruined many things. It's the reason both the Parkway and the Cerrito Speakeasy theaters where you could openly drink a beer you'd actually purchased at the concession stand, not smuggled in under your sweatshirt closed their doors this year. But even a bummer cash crunch can't dampen a true cult movie fan's love of all things B. Deprived of a permanent venue for his long-running "Thrillville," programmer and host Will "The Thrill" Viharo adjusted his fez, brushed off his velvet lapels, and started booking his popular film 'n' cabaret extravaganzas at other Bay Area movie houses, including the 4-Star and the Balboa in San Francisco, and San Jose's Camera 3. Fear not, devotees of film noir, tiki culture, the swingin' '60s, big-haired babes, Aztec mummies, William Shatner, the Rat Pack, Elvis, creature features, Japanese monsters, and zombies the Thrill ain't never gonna be gone.
BEST GAY FLIPPER ACTION
Much like travel agents, beepers, and modesty, pinball machines are slowly becoming relics of the past. But it's difficult to understand why these quarter-fed games would fall by the wayside, since they're especially fun in a bar atmosphere. What else is there to do besides stare at your drink, hopelessly chat up the bartender, constantly check your phone, and try to catch that one cute patron's eye. At the Castro's Moby Dick, pinball saves you from such doldrums. Sure, the place has the requisite video screens blaring Snap! and Cathy Dennis chestnuts, and plenty of hunky drunkies to serve as distractions. But its quarter-action collection unfortunately whittled down to three machines, ever since Theater of Magic was retired due to the difficulty of finding replacement parts is a delightful retro rarity in this gay day and age. So tilt not, World Cup Soccer, Addams Family, and Attack from Mars fans. There's still a queer home for your lightning-quick flipping.
BEST BLAST OF JUSTICE
Founded in 2002, the many-membered Brass Liberation Orchestra has been blowing their horns for social justice all over the Bay Area from the San Francisco May Day March and Oakland rallies for Oscar Grant, to protests against city budget cuts and jam sessions at the 16th Street BART station. Trombones out and bass drums at the ready, this tight-knit organization of funky folk recently returned from New Orleans, where they played to support community rebuilding projects in the Lower Ninth Ward.