Since I’m practically sh*tting on MTV’s “Hottest MCs in the Game” list, I may as well use their criteria for determining what it takes to make the list, let’s take a look, as posted on the MTV website:
Impact: Since hip-hop’s humble beginnings, MCing has always been about moving the crowd, and while the culture may have gotten bigger than 1980 park jams, the same fundamental rule still applies. In order to be considered among the hottest, you have to have an impact like Kanye West or T.I., artists who are able to shift the rap’s landscape, whether it be with soul samples or their own brand of trap music.
Lyrics: Shiny chains, flashy clothes and platinum plaques are all nice, but without formidable bars, it’ll be hard for any artist to gain respect in the rap game. Whether you’re spitting about “good kush and alcohol” like Lil Wayne or being a good kid in a mad city like Kendrick Lamar, make sure those lyrics are sharp.
Sales: Cash rules everything around and though certain corners of the industry may be experiencing a sales slump, the top MCs are still able to keep the registers ringing. Just ask rappers like Nicki Minaj, Rick Ross and 2 Chainz, you can’t ignore platinum and gold.
Buzz: It’s not enough to just have lyrics. You can be the best lyricist on the planet, but if no one is aware of your rap existence then your talents will just fall on deaf ears. Are you on the top DJ’s playlists, do the blogs cover you, are you trending topic on Twitter? Who is talking about you and where?
Style: Lyrics are important, but they only tell a piece of the story. Without a formidable rap style, those well-crafted bars might as well just be words on a page. In hip-hop, delivery is everything and it doesn’t stop in the booth. Spitters like A$AP Rocky and Drake don’t only have distinct rap styles; they also have unique looks that influence their respective fan armies.
Intangibles: There are some things that just can’t be taught. More often than not, the best “spitters” in the game practice their bars until they get them just right, but what about swag? When it comes to MCs like 2 Chainz or Big Sean, there is a certain star-quality that just can’t be measured.
Now I won’t get too in-depth in each of these categories while explaining my selections but since I’m being critical why not us a “points scale” like figure skating. Lists are meant to be debunked so keep that in mind while perusing through this article. Let the games begin!
10. A$AP ROCKY
Honestly, I can’t say much about A$ap… he’s got kick ass production, marketing, and lots of people behind his music. For those of you who are into basketball, I would consider him a Ron Artest type of guy. Not the best out there, but he gets the job done. Let’s proceed.
BUZZ: I’m pretty sure most of you know about (“Fuckin’ Problems was #8 on the top 100) or have seen pictures of A$AP. And if you haven’t it’s probably because you have way too many important things to do. But seriously, he’s done collaborations with everyone from Drake to the “Call Me, Maybe” girl.
IMPACT: There is a ridiculous amount of fan art and A$ap inspired photography on the internet. It’s quite sickening. Bottom-line, if you’re under the age of 23, you probably have an A$ap Rocky poster in your house or a purple & white American flag.
LYRICS: Definitely not one for lyrics, A$ap’s best verse was on “1 Train”. His verse btw was the worst on the track. Same can be said for “F*ckin’ Problems” (unless you count 2 Chainz chorus). But, with that being said, when you have that much BUZZ and IMPACT going for you, who cares.
INTANGIBLES: A$ap Rocky comes off as a less angry Tyler the Creator, though he’s still pretty angry. Then again they are the voice of the youth right? (yikes)
SALES: With juggernauts such as iTunes, Pandora, and Spotify pushing A$AP’s debut album as if their name was “PUSHA”…I really don’t think I need to say more. A$AP’s follow up to “F*ckin’ Problems” is going to be “F*ckin’ Paid”
STYLE: The folks at MTV talk about how much style the New York (Harlem) native has. Let me start and finish by saying this…
…yep. That’s about it. Or maybe he’s channeling his inner gangstalicious. “Homies over hoes”.
ACCUMULATIVE SCORE: 31.3
9. PUSHA T
Pusha T is that guy who guest stars on your favourite artists’ track and usually outshines him. I recently had a conversation with a few other writers and there wasn’t much arguing with how phenomenal “King Push” is. So let’s get right to it and compile these stats together:
BUZZ: Pusha T has kept himself in the headlines with his often talked about beef with YMCMB crew.
“Let’s just look at what I did to people out here: I blacked out on a whole crew [YMCMB] all year,” he said. “Nobody stood next to me and blacked out with me; I blacked out on a whole crew by myself. Like, I don’t belong on no list? And I’m talking about everybody, I blacked out on peoples’ favorites…”
Not to mention fellow GOOD music comrad Kanye West named Pusha T the front-runner in the race for godfather of Kimye’s current collaborative effort (get it!? haha! that’s a good one)
IMPACT: This is all I have to say, Push has ruffled a few feathers in 2012 with a highly publicized beef with Lil Wayne, Drake and company, but it wasn’t anything like Nas v Jigga.
“…I had emcees denouncing their fan base, denouncing their fan base and coming back with records talking about, ‘As long as my chicks love me.’ I did that…I don’t belong on no list? It’s cool, I’ve just got to work harder.” -Pusha T
LYRICS: If Pusha T’s verse in GOOD music’s “Don’t Like” isn’t enough to prove the rappers self worth with notable quotes such as, “Ric Flair n***a!”…If that in itself is enough to grant Pusha T a place on the list, then maybe the fact he had arguably the BEST verse on one of 2012’s most popular songs.
“…My Audemar like Mardi Gras, that’s Swiss time and that’s excellence
Two-door preference, roof gone, George Jefferson
That white frost on that pound cake so your Duncan Hines is irrelevant…” – Pusha T (“Mercy” verse)
INTANGIBLES: Lots of MCs talk about living “that life” (which I’m not an advocate of, but if that’s what you feel you need to do to survive so be it…). I truly feel Pusha T is either one of the greatest fabricators of all time or he truly has an addiction to the drug game…I mean, seriously his name is PUSHA…
SALES: Here’s the part where Pusha T least excels, mainly because he didn’t have an album out to call his own. However, he did quite well with being a part of the GOOD music “Cruel Summer” release. Which did decent in sales.
STYLE: Lots of celebrities make attempts at starting a clothing line (see Master P). However, Pusha T’s clothing line, Play cloths is FRESH. LOOK FOR YOURSELF
TOTAL ACCUMULATIVE SCORE: 31.9
8. MEEK MILL
BUZZ: As a member of the immensely popular MMG team and also signed to the Jay-Z led ROC NATION record label Meek Mill was never at a loss for great marketing. Not to mention there was a hilarious video of Kevin Hart “going in” on Meek Mill and his unsuspecting entourage back stage which went viral pretty fast (rightfully so)
LYRICS: I don’t know many highly mainstream MCs who us “trap music” as their backdrop that can keep my attention span lyrically. There are so many to choose from, but instead of posting lyrics, I’ll just post his hot97 freestyle (see for yourself)
INTANGIBLES: As I stated with Pusha T, Meek Mill has an edge about him that just can’t be acquired through fairy tales. Why does he usually rhyme about money, cars, murder, women, and drugs? Because he’s “about that LIFE!”
SALES: Oh, did I mention Meek Mill sold over 160,000 copies of his debut album straight out the gates? I did..? Ok, did I mention that he did that during one of the worst hurricanes to hit the east coast ever? I would assume that probably took a toll on record sales.
STYLE: Let’s face it, Meek Mill if from Philly and we aren’t talking Society Hill (prominent high class town), so it’s no surprise that Meek Mill isn’t the best dressed guy on the list. BUT at least he doesn’t wear skirts, kudos.
TOTAL ACCUMULATIVE SCORE: 33.1
7. RICK ROSS
BUZZ: If tons of instagram and twitter pictures rubbing elbows with Lebron James and the Miami Heat, as well as PACMAN (superstar boxer Manny Pacquiao) can’t help get your face out there. Maybe being constantly advertised on BET, MTV, VH1, PANDORA, and iTUNES (just to name a few) could help get you on this list. Throw in a few fights at awards shows, a few mock deaths spread around the web (some possibly created by RICK ROSS HIMSELF)… oh… and being at the center of an investigation on a dead body found at your front door. Yea, I think I’ve proven my point.
IMPACT: RICK ROSS had a song in Tarantino’s academy award winning DJANGO UNCHANIED film titled, “100 Black Coffins.” Based off the fact this film will forever have left an impact in society, it’s tough to argue anyone who contributed wouldn’t be a part of its impact as well.
LYRICS: This track kinda sums it up for me when it comes to Rick Ross’s lyrics, nothing to write home about, but it’s surprisingly decent.
INTANGIBLES: Don’t quote me on this, but Rick Ross is a modern day Notorious BIG. Not in the sense of charisma, talent, and body of work… BUT he’s a big black guy. All jokes aside though, Rick Ross is definitely one of the most intelligent MCs in the game he’s built quite the empire, all while maintaining his own personal brand.
SALES: No questioning the amount of music Rick Ross has sold throughout last year. He’s also banked majorly on tours, his Reebok endorsement deal, and whatever anyone else does that works with his MMG team (hence the nickname BOSS).
STYLE: Big guy wearing linen pants and unbuttoned shirts…? You know what, I give him props for going full Montana. Hey,atleast he doesn’t wear skirts.
ACCUMULATIVE SCORE: 33.5
6. LIL WAYNE
The hardest working man in “Hip-Hop”, would be a good title for Lil Wayne. He’ll have more music than Tupac, the Beatles, and Elvis combined by the time he’s done. One of many questions most people wonder when it comes to Weezy is what’s more important, quantity over quality?
BUZZ: The amount of buzz “Tunechi” has every year (including 2012) is usually insurmountable.
IMPACT: Lil Wayne is a writer for ESPN, and damn-near everything he says is put in a dictionary or repeated a billion times.
LYRICS: Usually hit or miss, Lil Wayne is never short when it comes to humor in his lyrics
“I swear I saw my ho, I swear she was with my ho. You know I fuck them both, sore pu**y and sore throat. B*tch it’s Tunechi and I’m out here, no worries no worriesI would talk about my d****, but man that shit be a long story!” - Lil Wayne (No Worries)
Read more: LIL WAYNE – NO WORRIES LYRICS
INTANGIBLES: Lil Wayne is the epitome of a “rock star” (sex, drugs & music). Definitely a modern day 2 Pac without the the affirmative action and the acting chops (have you seen Juice?) Tunechi is extremely influential all around with an extremely unique essence.
SALES: This guy rarely has an album come out on time, nevertheless, put him on you single and it’s bound to get DL’d a billion times. “Bands A Make Her Dance” and “No Worries” would be prime examples.
STYLE: Lil Wayne is kinda out there when it comes to fashion, I really have no words for it. His skinny jeans are completely malnourished, like Ethiopian limited edition skinny (jeggings?). I’ll score him higher than A$AP, but not by much.
ACCUMULATED SCORE: 33.55
BUZZ: 4 Grammy nominations and a #1 album is a good way to stir up some buzz. Also unfortunate tax issues kept him in the news as well. The FEDs, continue to remind us they don’t f*ck around, doesn’t matter who you are.
IMPACT: “The Don” might be the best single of 2012, the music video for “Daughters” was a fantastic visual to accompany the single. Then Nas went on tour with Lauryn Hill and put on a great show in ever city he touched down at (so I’ve heard).
LYRICS: Nas is arguably the GREATEST RAPPER Of ALL TIME. Which would officially make him a “GROAT”.
INTANGIBLES: NAS had an extremely successful 2012, continuing to stay relevant and stay true to his original style that has held strong since 1994, isn’t an easy feat. However, sticking with my basketball analogies, NAS is more of a Kevin Garnett among the youth movement.
SALES: #1 album and 4 Grammy nods
STYLE: I’ve always thought NAS had a pretty good sense of style. His style is the equivalent of Rick Ross’s lyrics.
ACCUMULATED SCORE: 34.9
BUZZ: Drizzy used his rollover buzz from 2011 and won a Grammy. That’s BUGATTI! Also he beat Chris Brown’s ass and contributed to a few of the most popular singles of 2012 MEEK MILL’s “Amen”, A$AP ROCKY’s “F*ckin Problems”, and 2 Chainz “No Lie”. And let’s not forget about the Drake fanboys… That’s a whole different ball game.
IMPACT: There maybe 1 MC who has more of his lyrics quoted by people on a daily basis (Lil Wayne) than Drake, probably not. I’m waiting for the day that Urban Outfitters comes out with the “Drake Guide to Urban Survival”, for people to literally live their lives by Drake’s lyrics.
LYRICS: I wouldn’t say Drake is amazing in this category, but since most mainstream MCs are lyrically HORRID (see 2 Chainz or FUTURE), Drake would be considered a word wizard!
INTANGIBLES: How much of an influence does Drake have on society? I don’t need to explain, just CLICK HERE
SALES: You could probably compare the amount of money Drake made off of doing features on other artists’ singles and it would end up being more than a few artists’ albums on this list (I’m looking at you right now NAS).
STYLE: Arguably the Best dressed Canadian of all-time. Sorry Celine Dion.
ACCUMULATIVE SCORE: 35
3. KANYE WEST
BUZZ: From rants on stage in Europe, to talking shit about MTVs suspect Hottest MC list, Kanye stays in the headlines.
IMPACT: Nate Robinson wore a pair of Yeezy’s recently in a basketball game (very dope). When you have professional hoopers risking injury just to wear your shoe, you know you’re influential. Not to mention creating the man skirt craze.
LYRICS: Kanye is and always will be a solid lyricist. Don’t lie, I know most of you folks reading this know most of Kanye’s verse on Mercy!
INTANGIBLES: Kanye West is the most unique artist on this list, his music videos (fresh minimalistic visuals for Mercy), sense of fashion (takes a unique person to rock a leather kilt), and lyrics can’t be duplicated. That shit CRAY.
SALES: Gave Yeezy a higher score because he basked in the success of GOOD Music’s “Cruel Summer” album and his collaborative effort with Hov “Watch the Throne”
STYLE: I’d love to give Kanye a 6, but he wore a skirt. Say it ain’t so. I’ll let it slide this year BUT next time I’m deducting 3 points.
ACCUMULATED SCORE: 35.1
BUZZ: Brooklyn Nets part owner, had a baby with Beyonce, had one of the dopest concerts of the year Made in America, and then there’s the Grammys.
IMPACT: Most of the people on this list are or have been signed to Hov’s record label. Talk about impact.
LYRICS: It’s JIGGA! I need not waste my time talking about how dope he is lyrically.
SALES: Didn’t give him a 6 because I personally feel like the Watch The Throne was more Kanye’s idea than Hova’s. I can see Ye’ calling Jay-Z with this elaborate idea and Hov saying, “yea, sure, sounds good buddy boy.”
STYLE: Jay-Z is 1 part Marcy projects and 1 part super rich guy. Which means lots of tee shirts, Jordans, fitted hats, and suits. Very standard fashion gets a very standard score.
ACCUMULATED SCORE: 35.4
1. KENDRICK LAMAR
BUZZ: Since “The Recipe” released, Kendrick never slowed down in 2012. From destroying some of last years biggest hits, “1 Train” to introducing boxing’s next big thing Adrien Broner, Kendrick Lamar made headlines all year long.
IMPACT: It’s pretty tough to walk the line being mainstream and keeping true to your fans, Kendrick Lamar not only did that BUT he also grabbed fans from any artists he’s collaborated with. In any song he’s been featured on, his verses usually outshine his peers
LYRICS: I will not say anything… just watch this video below:
INTANGIBLES: Kendrick Lamar’s album is a complete classic, personally, I think it’s the best Hip-Hop album in the last 5 years (don’t quote me on that). My favourite thing about Kendrick Lamar is he reps Compton to the fullest, staying real to himself and not turning away from any of the influences that molded him into such a dope MC
SALES: I may be wrong, but I think EVERYONE either has downloaded Kendrick Lamar’s entire “GOOD kid MAAD city” album OR DL’d atleast 3 songs off the album.
STYLE: Kendrick Lamar subtly shows off his sense of style constantly. Btw, he doesn’t wear skirts.
ACCUMULATED SCORE: 35.75