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 Lil Wayne Reacts

 10. Jim Jones

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 8. 50 Cent

 7. Jay-Z

 6. Young Jeezy

 5. Kanye West

 4. Andre 3000

 3. Game

 2. T.I.

 1. Lil Wayne

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  The Brain Trust Speaks

  Where's Nas?

  Honorable Mention

Watch the gloves come off as the brain trust wrestles over who is today's flyest MC!

  The Greatest Hip-Hop Groups Of All Time

  The Greatest Hip-Hop MCs Of All Time

  The Greatest Hip-Hop Albums Of All Time

I gotta give my top 10: Lil Wayne, Young Jeezy, T.I., 50, Fat Joe, Kanye, Ludacris, [Juelz] Santana, Yung Joc, Young Dro.

Yams, 29
Asheville, NC

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It's been crazy the past week! Lil Wayne was crowned the "Hottest MC in the Game" by the MTV hip-hop brain trust. Remember, it wasn't a career retrospective, but a look at the artists' work over the past year. Although there were only 10 spaces available on our chart, there are a few other rappers we want to give props to. Some of them missed the top 10 by a hair: That doesn't mean they're not hot, and some of them might even knock out members of our current top 10 elite if and when we do a new list. Here are more than a dozen we had to give props to — in no particular order — as well.

First off, we'll say that lyrically, Nas still has the strength and forethought of a king, the insight of a scholar and the respect of a veteran. He set off one of the most provocative debates in the past few years by declaring hip-hop dead. Whether you are like some, such as Young Jeezy and T.I. (just listen to T.I. vs T.I.P.), who strongly disagreed, or others like the Game who stood by him and his declaration, Esco got the hip-hop community talking and reflecting. Hip Hop Is Dead showed that age and a label change have not rusted him at all: His mic is deadly. What might have prevented Nas from making the top 10 in the minds of some brain trust members was that his overall presence has died down considerably in the past few months. Records that the fans were screaming for, like "Black Republican" and "Hustlers," were never pushed with a single or a video. After only two singles, the album's promotion basically ceased. Nas has been keeping busy recording his next opus, as well as selling out shows on a one-man tour of clubs and theater-size venues. He's on the Rock the Bells summer tour too.

What kept 'Cris from two-stepping onto the top 10 list is that he's too damn talented! He makes it look easy, and some of the brain trust members might've taken him for granted. He's been one of the most consistently dope artists since he debuted five albums ago — inventing flows, levying one-liners and, more importantly, building a deep catalog and selling albums. His most recent effort, 2006's Release Therapy, was no different. The album went platinum and had a #1 single with "Money Maker," and Ludacris won his first two Grammys for his efforts. But he has slowed down since performing the smash "Runaway Love" with Mary J. Blige at the Grammy Awards in February. The single and video for "Slap" were seemingly pulled back after getting spins, and other potentially big singles, like "Girls Gone Wild," were never released.

"Make Me Better" is definitely one of the biggest hip-hop records of the year — a few more of those and Fab could have been among the top 10. He's just starting to get his guest-appearance game up with cameos alongside people like Mario, and his "Baby Don't Go" is a sure shot once his current single dies out. Fab does have to lose his cool a little more often during his live performances though — he's too swagger-heavy sometimes.  

Yung Joc
Joc is heating up! Guest spots on T-Pain's "Buy You a Drank (Shawty Snappin')" and Lloyd's "Get It Shawty" had his name buzzing last spring. A new single, "Play Your Cards," has just been released, and "Coffee Shop" is doing well — although it's no "It's Goin' Down." But look for Joc — who has slimmed down by at least 50 pounds — to start igniting more interest with his stint on the Screamfest tour, as well as singles from Hustlenomics. He has them hooks!

The melodic flow isn't original, but ohhhh, is it on point. Cham is one of the hardest workers in the game right now: His fanbase has grown from his Houston hometown to the world. "Ridin' " rode right out of 2006 and made its way onto an episode of "The Sopranos." How trill is that? Koopa is about to drop his next album, Ultimate Victory, in the next few months, and the video for the first single, "Hip-Hop Police," is a definite winner.

Pusha T
Absolutely no disrespect to his older brother and Clipse-mate Malice the Patty Cake Man, but we could only choose one artist per slot! Clipse are one of our favorite groups for sure, but we leaned in favor of the Pushaman. He's more visible, jumps on more guest spots and, let's face it, he keeps a mean 16 handy, like on "Jokes on You": "My brother my partner for real like Wayans ... Diamonds the size of Robin Harris' eyes/ I BeBe Kids my neck." The lethally raw Hell Hath No Fury still gets played in our MP3 players (though never getting a video for "Trill" was heartbreaking). Stop sleeping!

Rick Ross
Unfortunately for Ross, he simply got caught in between albums: It's been too long since he dropped Port of Miami but way too soon to factor in his upcoming Trilla. (Only one or two of the brain trust members have heard material from the new album.) Anyway, let's not digress. Rawwwwse is still sick with the wordplay — just listen to his recent appearances on DJ Drama's "Feds Takin' Pictures," and DJ Khaled's "We Takin' Over" and "Brown Paper Bag."

Fat Joe
Appearances on "We Takin' Over," "Brown Paper Bag" and the unofficial remix to Musiq Soulchild's "B.U.D.D.Y." have helped maintain Joe's hip-hop VIP card over the past few months, but he hasn't erupted with his own smash since his "Make It Rain" and its remix clapped fans at the top of the year. But hey, even "Crillzmania" can take a chill pill every once in a while.

Snoop Dogg
Snoop is eternally hot, one of the biggest legends that's still doing hard work these days. "That's That Sh--" and Akon's "I Wanna F---You," on which Snoop was featured, crushed the game months ago, and as soon as R. Kelly stops messing with the "Same Girl" as T-Pain and Usher, the Pied Piper might as well release the Doggfather-featured "Double Up" as a single. It's a smash. But that's Snoop's MO, isn't it? A Dogg hit record is always right around the corner.

Bun B
Bun is always going to be a sentimental favorite among the brain trust members. He's a legend, a pillar of pride and respect, and half of UGK, the 10th Greatest Hip-Hop Group of All Time. Still, you know you can't front — he wrecked the show on UGK's "Int'l Players Anthem," and his assortment of guest appearances on the underground circuit over the past year has shown he can still stomp out a beat.

Rich Boy
"Good Things" is instant summer-heat rock, and "Throw Some D's" was definitely one of the biggest records of 2007. The Alabama native officially put his state on the hip-hop map while vying for rookie of the year. He's still coming into his own as an artist, but you know that as long as he has one of the hottest producers in the game right now — Polow Da Don — championing him and hitting him off with tracks, we haven't heard the last of him.

Swizz Beatz
Swizzy! The legendary producer — who earned the nickname "The Monster" by scoring Godzilla-size hits for everyone from Eve to Busta Rhymes to Jay-Z to Beyoncé — has stepped up to the mic. OK, before you accuse us of blasphemy for labeling Swizz an MC, we're not — even he doesn't consider himself to be an MC. But you can't deny that he entertains like an MC, and with a solo LP on the way, we didn't want to let him slide. This year alone, he's had three of the biggest records in the clubs with "It's Me B---hes," its remix and "Money in the Bank." We all knew his tracks were going to be superb — you can't sleep on his ability to pen hit records. He's also been one of the MCs most requested for guest hooks.

Ghostface Killah
Ironman stood tall with two albums in 2006. He's still struggling with sales unfortunately, but as far as the ingenuity and swagger he brings to the mic go, the Wu-Tang Clansman makes his core audience proud. He's currently on tour with the Wu as part of Rock the Bells.

Juelz Santana
Everywhere is Santana's town. Juelz is the most charismatic member of the Diplomats and, despite the tension in his crew between Cam'ron and Jim Jones, he's been able to stay clear of all beefs while continuing his grind. His swagger has made him iconic with the kids, the ladies love him and even the older fellas are starting to come around. Ayyyyye!

Cass has been heralded as one of the most ferocious new-school MCs, but his rise has been hindered by jail, label friction and a serious car accident. But eventually the elite rise to the top, and Cassidy is heating up crazy right now with a myriad of freestyles and the club banger "Drink N My 2 Step."

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Future Shock Four

The future of hip-hop is looking real good. We have a diverse array of potential superstars who are trying to carve out their own special path in the rap world. We feel that someday these guys and lady will make it to the top — it's just a matter of when. They feel that "when" is now and are out to prove it!

1. Papoose — Finally, he's got one! Pap's fans all across the world — yes, he's playing shows in foreign lands quite frequently — are glad that after a few years, he finally has an official single out, and it looks like his debut, The Nacirema Dream, is coming soon. Lyrically, he's as agile as the Flying Graysons on the tightrope. Conceptually, he's so abstract, the fans will have to press "rewind" a few times before they get it all.

2. Plies — "Shawty" is a hit record, but this Florida rapper can do so much more than that. Just research his mixtapes and you'll see that although his name is still growing, his credentials in the streets are A-status. He has a huge presence.

3. Saigon — He's better known by the masses for his appearance on HBO's "Entourage" than for his rhyme skills, but that's OK. Soon everyone will learn. His new single, "Come on Baby," is a no-brainer banger, and by the time the remix with Jay-Z comes out in a few months, he'll already be huge. Sai's main focus is not making you dance, but setting an example for youth and dropping jewels. He's one of the most insightful MCs to come up in a long time.

4. Lil Mama — You could read "superstar" all over her adorable face as soon as it popped up in her video for "Lip Gloss." Not a bad first song — she won hearts, got a lot of accolades in the press and is about to release one of the most anticipated LPs from any newcomer. Mama has an ace up her sleeve too: Besides the commanding personality, swift dance skills and ear catching hooks, she can sing. Look out!

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Photo: MTV News

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