Just a few more days. The new "Hottest MCs in the Game" list will be revealed Friday at 10 p.m. on MTV.
Since we announced the epic extravaganza, tens of thousands of hip-hop fans have responded online, saying what they expect. Many fans have sent in their own lists, and some artists are even chiming in with who they think should be on the list. Obviously, last year's champ is Lil Wayne. His popularity has probably doubled since 2007 — as has his workload.
Wayne's in-demand status hasn't waned at all, with monumental guest spots on records like "Duffle Bag Boy," and his own "Lollipop" went to the top of Billboard's Hot 100. And while he's maintained a successful recipe with his words and how he delivers them, Weezy — hip-hop's ultimate rock star — has one gaping hole on his résumé: no album. Tha Carter III was pushed back from February to May and is now slated for June 10. So here's one of the biggest questions MTV's Hip-Hop Brain Trust posed: Can the Birdman Jr. be #1 two years in a row without an album?
He obviously has enough material out in the marketplace to equal an album's worth of work. The delay of Tha Carter III is hurting Weezy's anticipation factor. The LP will undoubtedly be #1 for a couple of weeks when it drops. Still, will the Brain Trust think he needs a complete body of work to tie it all together to be the Hottest MC once again? Well, only the experts know for sure. However, some of Weezy's peers are having their say right now.
"He's the hottest rapper in the game," said Lloyd, who worked with Weezy on the new single "Girls Around the World." "He's my favorite by far, and I feel he's earned his spot. He's versatile."
"What makes Wayne a great MC is that he has no boundaries," Chris Brown said of his favorite MC. "He's limitless to what he wants to do. He doesn't say, 'This image is gonna mess me up if I do this record. If I sing, it's gonna make me soft.' He don't care about it — even with 'Lollipop.' That's my homie, but I was like, 'I don't wanna hear Wayne sing.' But when you hear the record, it ain't about the singing; it's about the song, how good it feels. It's a dope record to me. Him and Kanye are probably the two that's on top of their game right now as far as creativity. Kanye is one of those big, big minds of the future, and Wayne is one of those MCs that's gonna be here forever. He was here since he was 9 rapping."
"Lil Wayne is definitely the best rapper in the game," DJ Khaled agreed. "His lyrical techniques and his style is so amazing, but also his work ethic is amazing too. You got to work hard to be #1. His music backs it up, and his work ethic backs it up. He's just amazing. He takes it to a whole other level. He gave you that 'Lollipop' because he could do that rap stuff all day and eat it. So he took it to another global level. I look up to Lil Wayne. He's an inspiration of mine."
But Wayne maintaining the #1 position isn't as clear-cut as Khaled's comments might have you believe.
"Sure, people were feeling him, but those were his performances on someone else's record," 50 Cent argued. "Now, a good rapper, you want me to tell you a couple of good rappers? Jae Millz. You can go to Philly, you got Reed Dollaz, Chic Raw. It's a bunch of them. ... It's a whole bunch of dope rappers, man. It's just, are they good songwriters? Do they have the presentation to present to the public that's going to make them buy into them? As far as having a talented rapper, they could match [Wayne], in my head, personally. Like every guy I mentioned is an underground rapper right now. They're as entertaining to me as Lil Wayne is. He's been groomed in a way. He's been made for it. He's been raised in hip-hop, since he was 12 years old. So I expect him to be something special."
Even Khaled can't definitely say that Weezy is ahead of another Southern general.
"Ricky Ross is another number-one MC of mine," Khaled added. "Not just because he's my brother and he's a part of the movement, but you've seen his growth. Me, I've seen it already, but the people have got to see his growth through Port of Miami to his new album, Trilla, and doing records with me. Rick Ross is ahead of his time. Before he got his deal, he was ahead of his time musically. He was always rapping. He's from the South, but he could rap. He's just amazing, man. His swagger is crazy. He's the boss. ... I'm going to be real with you. Rest in peace to Biggie, rest in peace to 'Pac. [They're] legends, number-one MCs — Rick Ross is one of them dudes. I know it's hard for people to [believe], because the people I named are such legends, but I got to keep it real. [Ross] is one of them dudes."
If Jermaine Dupri had to vote right now, he'd be going with half of Outkast. "I don't know my full top 10, but I feel like Andre 3000 is #1 right now, because every time he puts a verse out, it's crazy. I think you want more! And to me, that is what rap is about — to hear somebody keep growing. Every time I hear him, it's like, 'Wow. What do he be doing?' "
Then, of course, you have most MCs who feel they should be #1.
"Cash Money been doing their thing," Webby said, before declaring his candidacy for the top spot. "Wayne, Birdman been doing them. You know, if you hot — I'm hot! If I was you, I probably wouldn't even touch me right now. You'd burn your fingers. I said, if I was you, when you see me, I probably wouldn't touch me because you'd probably burn your mutha----in' fingers. I'm hot, believe that. That's how I feel. I'm on f---ing fire. I'll set your house on fire when I step in your living room. Believe that. You think I'm playing. ... I ain't used a lighter in so f---ing long, it don't make no f---ing sense. I'm on fire!"
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 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, or on yourhere.mtv.com.
And the hotness continues: You can check out last year's top 10, join the debate and more on our "Hottest MCs" page.