The MTV News Hip-Hop Brain Trust’s standards are as high as a satellite when determining the top 10 “Hottest MCs in the Game.” The stars don’t have to align for one of your favorite spitters to wind up on the controversial list — however, true MCs have to capitalize on their moments with movements.
Impact is principal: Can a performer make a mark on the culture with SoundScan prevalence and ringtone-sales dominance? Does the performer have enough material to keep a club jumping? When you’re out in those streets, are people driving by blasting one of that MC’s songs out of their vehicles or blissfully bopping to one of their songs on an iPod? Keep in mind, anybody can make noise with a hit song, anybody can become a ringtone darling — but a hot MC must have sustaining substance.
You must have the powerful poetics to not only make the world recite your prose in times of glee at the club, but your words also have to grab hearts. Food for thought isn’t good enough. A hot MC is expected to chef up a lyrical buffet. Talk about power: If you can sway the minions with not only what you rhyme about, but how stylistically you deliver your bars, then you’re speaking volumes.
And what good is a wordsmith without swagger? Your persona has to be as fly as your art. The hottest MCs are also the coolest. They all posses that intangible factor, which means when they step into a room — whether draped in a simple white tee or rocking Gucci from head to toe — they make everyone else seem to cease to exist.
Last year, thousands and thousands of people were roused and riled by the Brain Trust’s list. Heaven knows, everyone was extremely vocal about the 2007 list, in which Lil Wayne was crowned #1. Fans still stop members of the Brain Trust out in public. The e-mails continue to roll in and the artists’ reactions are forever time-stamped.
“I remember catching the ’Hottest MCs’ show,” Rick Ross said. “I was impressed with that old-school cipher feel. Everybody popped off, and everybody did their thing. I think I seen a couple different ones. I appreciate MTV repping that real cipher feel — that’s that real hip-hop feel, that real New York feel, that real feeling … I’m still a fan of just good music, on the corner, people doing what they doing right now. ’Hottest MCs’ — it’s the hottest show out.”
Not everyone shares Ross’ sentiments.
“To the people of 2007 for leaving me off the list: F— y’all,” Snoop Dogg said after an MTV News interview in February. He was joking … a little bit.
50 Cent, who made the list, was probably the artist most vocally displeased with his placement. “[Wayne’s] #1 and I’m #8? And I got a CD going on sale. F— MTV,” 50 said last year during an interview on Sirius Satellite Radio.
“You guys put out a [Hottest MCs list] when my record [Curtis] was coming out,” 50 told MTV News a few weeks ago. “Hands down, when you look at the stats and who generates the most interest and who’s moving the most CDs, I was supposed to be one of the top guys, if not the top guy. But they was saying he’s #1, because we want people to like Lil Wayne, whoever is making the decisions inside the room. Sure, people were feeling him, but those were his performances on someone else’s record.” (That very issue will be addressed in the new “Hottest MCs.”)
Jay-Z went on the radio and told the masses that since he was already crowned Greatest MC of All Time by the Brain Trust (which still stands), he shouldn’t be compared to some of the newer flamethrowers such as T.I. and Wayne. Fabolous told us personally he deserved to be in the top 10, not just an honorable mention.
And Lupe Fiasco was so hurt by not even getting an honorable mention that he told us he doesn’t even want to be considered for the new list.
“I was looking like, ’Yo, I ain’t make the top 10, I could understand that, because I was, like, in between albums,” said Fiasco, who admitted that our 2007 top 10 was “dead on.” “Then I wasn’t on the ’Honorable Mention’ list. Then there’s was a [’Future Shock Four’ below] that list, and I wasn’t on that either. Hold on, hold on — nothing? F—!
“It’s love — I still got love, love, 100-, thousand-percent love for MTV,” he clarified, “but I want nothing to do with the  list. I don’t even care! How about that? I don’t even care that I am not on the list! I’ve been the underdog my whole career. I always been in the shadow of this dude, or I been over here. I’ve always been underdog.”
Was anyone completely, 100-percent satisfied with 2007’s list? No. Was there any hesitation in bringing the Brain Trust back to do it all over again? Never! As long as people rap, there are going to be people they’ve entertained, provoked and even inspired enough to talk about them. (And talk and talk …)
So without any more holdup, chaos has been unleashed: The Brain Trust went back to the round table and figured out who they thought were paramount in moving the game over the past year.
The 2008 version of “Hottest MCs in the Game” airs Friday, May 16, on MTV at 10 p.m — and you can also hit MTVNews.com directly once the program is over to read more in depth about the Brain Trust’s choices. In advance of the special, we’re letting you all have a say. Head over to Newsroom.MTV.com, where you can vote on who you feel is the #1 hottest MC in the game — but don’t stop there! You can submit your own top-10 list below.
Now that you’ve checked out our “Hottest MCs in the Game” show, we want to know what MCs you’re feeling! Keep the debate rolling by submitting your own top-10 list below or heading to YouRHere.MTV.com to upload your video reaction. And the hotness continues: You can check in on last year’s top 10 and see this year’s complete list on our “Hottest MCs” page.