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Local rapper recognized for skillz

There were 950 entrants in the Scion: Nextup contest. They were winnowed down to 10 by a panel of music industry players, including Just Blaze, a producer at Jay-Z's Roc-a-fella record company. Finalists include both individual rappers and groups.

The grand prize will be a professionally produced video and appearances at events promoting Toyota's Scion. The contest is now in the voter phase. Visitors to will decide who wins, with one voter selected to receive a home theater package worth $12,000. Voting ends Friday, Sept. 17, 11:59 p.m.

Johnson's potentially award-winning song is a medley of hip-hop hits, a kind of homage to Jay-Z, 50 Cent and Eminem, one of his heroes. "They have their empires," he says. "Record label, shoes, everything. They're just real businessmen."

Johnson has been working on his rap career for about two years, he says, and has a demo CD of material and a Web site, He says he learned about the contest on one of his favorite Web sites, It was one of the banners at the top, he says. "Those annoying ads are good sometimes." — Wayne Melton

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