10 Candidates For The Next ‘Greatest MCs Of All Time’ List

With young talents like these on the rise, the future of hip-hop is bright indeed.

When the MTV hip-hop brain trust reconvenes to reconsider “The Greatest MCs of All Time” five or 10 years from now, these MCs will definitely be in the running for the top 10.

MC: Ludacris

Selected Catalog: Back for the First Time (2000), Word of Mouf (2001), *Chicken-N-Beer
(2003), The Red Light District (2004).

* = undeniable classic

Analysis: Bottom line, Cris is the most versatile MC in the rap game. He knows no bounds in his raps. The Mouth of the South can tantalize the shawties on love ballads with Usher, help Jamie Foxx maintain heavy airplay while boasting about being a sexual Superman, throw them ‘bows on a crunk record, and still hang with the premier lyricists in the game like Nas and Jadakiss on posse cuts with his humorous metaphors and unblemished flow.

Forecast: With the mega radio hits showing no signs of stopping and movies now in his repertoire, Cris’ already formidable star power is still on the rise. However, the South’s most consistent record seller is sometimes a victim of his own charisma: His party record hooks are so contagious and his videos so innovative that sometimes people forget about how nice he is on the mic. Later this year, Luda is dropping his Release Therapy LP, which should give a swift kick in the backside to anyone still sleeping on him.

MC: Kanye West

Selected Catalog: *The College Dropout (2004), *Late Registration (2005).

* = undeniable classic

Analysis: In five or 10 years, not only will we be talking about ‘Ye as one of the best artists on the mic, but his invite to the producers hall of fame will have been signed, sealed and delivered. He very well could be giving the greatest beatmaker of all time — Dr. Dre — a serious run for his crown. As a rapper, Yeezee’s skills are improving every year — and politically, he just might be the most important voice in rap.

Forecast: Say all you want about West’s huge ego, that same ego was largely responsible for pushing him to deliver two classic LPs in two tries. That same ego is not going to let him put anything else out unless it’s going to be heralded across the board: If you listen to “Impossible,” you’ll hear just how much he’s grown musically, as if he wasn’t already advanced enough. Kanye’s been experimenting with his flow, as well, and popping up on recent remixes with the likes of D-Block and Three 6 Mafia that are helping enforce his street cred.

MC: Lil’ Wayne

Selected Catalog: #Get It How U Live! (1997), *#Guerrilla Warfare (1999), Tha Block Is Hot (1999), Lights Out (2000), 500 Degreez (2002), #Let ‘Em Burn (2003), *Tha Carter (2004), *Tha Carter II (2005).

# = as a member of Hot Boys

* = undeniable classic

Analysis: After digesting the classic Tha Carter and its superior sequel, a lot of people down bottom and up top really believe Wayne’s self-proclaimed status as “the best rapper alive since the best rapper retired.” Even if you don’t put him at number one, you can’t deny he’s in the top five — right now. His arsenal is stacked tight: endless lyrics, a flow that’ll make the competition vomit, proven pop and sex appeal, ‘hood love and veteran status.

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Forecast: He’s been making music for 10 years and he’s only 22 years old? You think LeBron James has a career ahead of him? Weezy is leading the pack of MCs under 25 — like Lloyd Banks, Cassidy and Juelz Santana — who are snatching the baton from the older cats. The future is here.

MC: The Game

Selected Catalog: *The Documentary (2005).

* = undeniable classic

Analysis: Sure, he only has one LP, but his mixtape circuit catalog constantly displays this Compton king is the truth.

Forecast: Game has been keeping his name out there recently with beef disses, but if he can stay away from feuds, he’s absolutely going to be one of the special artists down the road. And while 50 Cent’s hooks and Dr. Dre’s beats obviously helped him sell records the first time around, Compton’s bad boy has more than proved he can stand alone and shine. He’s thought-provoking, audacious and obviously has his metaphors ready.

MC: Beanie Sigel

Selected Catalog: The Truth (1999), The Reason (2001), *The B. Coming (2005).

* = undeniable classic

Analysis: He can be heartfelt, humorous and ruthless. Sig is one of the most believable rappers of the past 10 years, and verse-for-verse, he’s one of the most consistent.

Forecast: He may never give us a huge radio anthem, but that’s not what we love Sigel for. He comes with that true grit in his raps. He’s a street ambassador. Probably the only criticism Beans has received in his almost 10-year career is that he hasn’t dropped that game-changing classic LP yet — which is not to say that the best isn’t yet to come. His latest album, The B. Coming, was unequivocally timeless and his best work to date; it was just a little hard for him to push his product from behind prison bars. Now a free man with his batteries recharged, the Broad Street Bully has all the opportunity in the world to put the game under his thumb.

MC: Jadakiss

Selected Catalog: #Money, Power & Respect (1998), *#We Are the Streets (2000), Kiss Tha Game Goodbye (2001), Kiss of Death (2004).

# = as a member of the LOX

* = undeniable classic

Analysis: He’s not going to give you a million different flows, he’s not going to change his inflection up (he doesn’t need to: he has one of the most recognizable voices out there), but he will keep killing you with words. Jadakiss is at home on the throne. Lyrically Kiss’ track record the past decade is so impeccable, he’s definitely the punch-line king.

Forecast: Coming from two dynasties like Bad Boy (circa 1994-98) and Ruff Ryders (circa 1999-2001), Kiss and the LOX have had no problem putting New York in a chokehold with their own D-Block movement. As a soloist, Kiss was certified gold last time out and had his biggest radio hit with “Why.” So where does he go from here? Jada has to keep his momentum going with joints that can reach beyond the ‘hood.

MC: 50 Cent

Selected Catalog: *Get Rich or Die Tryin’ (2003), #Beg for Mercy (2003), The Massacre (2005), Music From and Inspired by Get Rich or Die Tryin’: The Motion Picture (2005).

# = with G-Unit

* = undeniable classic

Analysis: He doesn’t make too many friends, but man, does 50 know how to make hit records. Whether he’s dropping platinum bangers on his own or lending his talents to other artists, Fif has proven to be the most consistent hitmaker in rap today. Since 2002, Mr. Moneybags has had one of this decade’s most impactful albums, led one of rap’s strongest crews and revolutionized the mixtape game.

The Great Debate
MTV’s hip-hop brain trust battles over the Greatest MCs of All Time. Watch as this melee gets as heated as a lyrical throwdown.



Forecast: Let’s face it, 50 is going to have at least two more multiplatinum albums before he hangs up his mic. Commercially speaking, it doesn’t seem like there’s any new ground for him to break. He’s had the million-selling first week, he’s had the album that was the soundtrack to a nation and sold 10 million copies. 50′s greatest success is looking like it will probably be on the business side. Apart from Eminem (who signed 50) and Jay-Z (whose Def Jam-owned Roc-A-Fella Records maintains Kanye West on the roster), none of the artists on our “Greatest MCs of All Time” list has been able to introduce a multiplatinum artist. 50′s already done that with Dr. Dre for Game­­ — and with Lloyd Banks, Young Buck, Mobb Deep and quite possibly Mase signed to his label, the Queens general seems destined to live lavishly as an executive for a long time to come.

MC: T.I.

Selected Catalog: I’m Serious (2001), *Trap Muzik (2003), *Urban Legend (2004), King (2006).

* = undeniable classic

Analysis: King is proving to be Tip’s breakout LP, solidifying the King of the South’s top position in all regions. He’s finally crossed over into that rare breed of hip-hop pop star like Jay-Z, who is just as loved in the trap as he is on the airwaves and record stores. And the swagger is unimpeachable.

Forecast: Tip feels he should have been a major top dog from the inception of his career, but timing is everything. Now that he’s affirmed his artistry in the music biz, he doesn’t have to worry when he divvies up his time in Tinsletown. That, too, is proving fruitful, his Hollywood bow in “ATL” was critically acclaimed. The future for Tip is definitely looking it will be the best of both worlds.

MC: Cam’ron

Selected Catalog: Confessions of Fire (1998), S.D.E. (2000), *Come Home With Me (2002), *#Diplomatic Immunity (2003), *Purple Haze (2004), #Diplomatic Immunity, Vol. 2 (2004).

# = with the Diplomats

* = undeniable classic

Analysis: Have you ever gone to a show and seen Diplomat fans in action? It’s almost like Cam is the epicenter of a cult following. Killa, Juelz Santana and Jim Jones are probably the biggest thing going in their NYC hometown when it comes to ‘hood music, proving beyond the shadow of a doubt that you don’t have to be multiplatinum “TRL” darlings to be a true rap stars. Cam himself is entertainment personified, whether it be his outlandish interview quotes, even crazier rap sentences or his swaggering outfits.

Forecast: Since Cam reintroduced himself in 2002 with the Roc, he’s had one consistent formula: To shun high-priced but proven producers in favor of unknown track masters with a gritty sound, which has helped him keep the streets on smash. In the future, he may chase a few more million sales and rap over more commercial beats — which is fine, as long he keeps up his wordplay.

MC: Talib Kweli

Selected Catalog: *#Black Star (1998), ~Reflection Eternal (2000), Quality (2002), The Beautiful Struggle (2004).

# = as a member of Black Star

~ = as a member of Reflection Eternal

* = undeniable classic

Analysis: He’s conscious but fly and gets ridiculously busy. Talib’s catalog has been deemed respect-worthy for years by his peers and the backpack hip-hop fans. With a little spotlighting by Dave Chappelle, Talib’s profile has gone up a couple of notches in recent years.

Forecast: Talib is literally one or two hits away from rising above his underground status and capturing the attention of the masses. That, coupled with a little more media savvy, and there’s no reason why he couldn’t dine with the greats.

Be sure to check out MTV News’ list, “The Greatest MCs Of All Time,” then tell us what you think.