In summer 2007, the MTV News Hip-Hop Brain Trust sat down and had another controversial roundtable debate. Unlike previous discussions, the trustees devised a list of not the greatest ever, but the Hottest MCs in the Game right then. The rankings were based on lyrics, flow, impact on the game, success and swagger. The roundtable recently reconvened and came up with a brand-new list of Hottest MCs. Our experts used the same criteria, but only judged on the past year of hip-hop.
Flame Thrower: 50 Cent
Why He’s Hot
Curtis underperformed — 50 himself called it a “dud.” Still, it sold more than any other hip-hop release last year except, of course, Kanye West’s Graduation. And despite the false starts that led to his #8 spot on the 2007 “Hottest MCs” list, “I Get Money,” “Ayo Technology” and “I’ll Still Kill” maintained his credibility as a musical commodity to close out the year.
You don’t make hundreds of millions of dollars (close to half a billion last year, according to some reports) by being thickheaded. 50 Cent can learn from his mistakes. Before releasing Curtis in September, Fif deviated from one of his prime sources of support: the mixtape circuit. He made up for lost time very quickly last fall when he put out Sabrina’s Baby Boy and followed up with The Return of the Body Snatchers and Elephant in the Sand. The three releases helped him gain some of the traction he had lost in the street, while also introducing records from the G-Unit’s upcoming Terminate on Sight, “Rider Part 2″ and “I Like the Way She Do It.”
Fif’s firmest footing might not be on the ‘hood’s concrete or in Hollywood (“Righteous Kill” with Robert De Niro and Al Pacino comes out later this year) or even on foreign soil (he’s spent most of the last year touring continents such as Africa, Asia and Europe), but in cyberspace. The Queens general recently launched ThisIs50.com, which almost immediately became a staple on the Web. In March, more than a million fans went to the site to download Elephant in the Sand. He’s been using it not only for social networking and news, but for promoting himself and the Unit. The site features low-budget videos for a gaggle of songs from their mixtapes and Web shorts that play out like mini reality-TV episodes starring the crew.
This summer will establish just how powerful the Unit really are. Young Buck has been kicked out of the group , leaving Lloyd Banks, 50 and Tony Yayo to contend with a heavy playing field of summer releases from acts like T.I., Nas, Nelly and old nemesis Game.
Co-Signer: DJ Drama
“50 brought a lot of the streets back, in my opinion. 50 put out a good, solid album. Probably wasn’t as big as his other albums, but it had a lot of bangers on there. ‘I Get Money’ is gonna be one of those songs that stands the test of time. I’ll be able to play it four years from now. 50 deserves credit for the mixtapes they put out. G-Unit, in the last six months, have put out at least three tapes, if I’m not mistaken. He went back to his roots. We talking ’bout a half-a-billion-dollar man, and he’s still in the streets. I tell artists all the time, ‘If 50 does it, why don’t you do it?’ Just overall, his presence in the streets, between his albums and between the G-Unit album, he’s making himself known and keeping the same formula that got him to where he is.
“50 is a lyricist. 50 puts great songs together, great hooks together. His lyrics don’t necessarily go over anybody’s head, but he’s an MC. He’s still making the same street bangers. As wealthy as he is, he still has that same energy, that same impact.”
“I told Jimmy Iovine ass to shut the f— up/ Got Dre callin’ Shady sayin, ‘Em, what’s up?/ We done came this far, we can’t stop now/ Em, 50 off the hook, he got to calm down’/ I guess I’m out of control, my mind, body and soul/ Tell me I’m being pimped and it’s makin’ me sick/ You know Em made that company over a billion dollars/ And when he ain’t around, they sayin’ foul sh– about him/ Yeah, we f—ed up, we both don’t know our pops/ We both don’t like the cops, we don’t know when to stop.” — From “Smile (I’m Leavin’)”
Sabrina’s Baby Boy, The Return of the Body Snatchers, Elephant in the Sand
“I’ll Still Kill” (featuring Akon), “Follow My Lead” (featuring Robin Thicke), G-Unit’s “Rider Part 2″ and “I Like the Way She Do It”
“We on Some Sh–,” “Southside,” “Curtis 187,” “Man Down,” “The Mechanic,” G-Unit’s “Like a Dog”
Key Guest Appearances
Launched ThisIs50.com; landed roles in various Hollywood projects, including the upcoming “Righteous Kill” with Robert De Niro and Al Pacino
Various overseas treks
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.