Now you know good and well there was no way we would put up a list of our Hottest MCs in the Game and not hit up an MTV News staple, Kanye West, to ask him what he thought. When we first told 'Ye about the list, he instructed us to start with Wayne as #1 and work our way down. Duly noted. What West didn't know at the time was that he was being considered for the top five as well. Now that the debate is done and Kanye did in fact crack our top five, here's what he had to say.
"Like Jadakiss said, 'Top five, dead or alive,' " he responded. "To get to the point where I'm in the top five, it just feels good. It feels better than winning an award. Even though 'Can't Tell Me Nothing' isn't doing good on radio, I never had a 'hood anthem before."
We also solicited Kanye's own top-five picks for Hottest MCs.
"I'm only gonna accept a couple of people being ahead of me," he said. "Only two."
Here's the rundown in his own words:
· 1. Lil Wayne
· 2. Andre 3000
· 3. Kanye West
· 4. T.I.
· 5. Fabolous
And since Kanye is so rich with swagger, we also asked him to give us his top five MCs when it comes to just that: swag.
· 1. Jim Jones
· 2. T.I.
· 3. Young Jeezy
· 4. Kanye West
· 5. Lil Wayne
While we were on a roll with the Louis Vuitton Don, he opined about our #1 and #2 Hottest MCs, as well as his own lyrical progression.
On why Wayne is #1:
"He's in a zone. It's like Eminem with 'hood records. You go to the strip clubs, they know his words all the way through. People know his records. ... When he gets on tracks, he gives excitement, he has a combination of punch lines, excitement and swag. Some people got real lyrics, others have a lot of swag. He combines both. His voice cuts on the track too. His lines are real memorable as well."
T.I. the King:
"T.I. came from being super-lyrical, and what he's doing right now is so easy for him. It's so much swag. I just feel like he has the life. He can go in the studio, knock a song out in 10, 15 minutes, and do whatever he wants for the rest of the day. T.I. never overdoes it; he gives you exactly what you needed."
Kanye's wordplay evolution:
"I just want to step up everything — step the videos up, step the gear up. ... What [Andre] 3000 told me when he heard 'Can't Tell Me Nothing,' he said, 'I believe you.' A lot of rappers, they say sh-- they don't believe themselves. When I'm talking, y'all believe my passion. I think it's important to cover all bases. Even though we doing shows with 50,000 to 100,000 people, I want to have that respect in the barbershop. I want to make something where somebody driving their car, they could be like, 'This n---a is saying something.' My lyrics don't be for play, they be for real. I'm talking about real sh-- people could relate to. This is not no fantasy rap."
For more on Kanye, Weezy, Tip and the rest of today's hip-hop greats, check out our Hottest MCs in the Game feature.