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: Lupe Fiasco
Why He’s Hot
With swagger that lays somewhere between dope-boy fresh and Louis-Viutton-Don dapper, “He spat the poems that got their domes all geeked up.” Did Lupe have a legitimate gripe about being totally ignored by the Brain Trust during last year’s list and subsequent sidebar convos? Absolutely. Did the trustees tell the world that their list was neither perfect nor definitive? Absolutely. Nevertheless, Lupe made it impossible to overlook him this time (and not just because of the support he’s getting from his peers ). A little less arcane and definitely darker than 2006’s Food and Liquor, his The Cool LP borders on classic contention. His blatant sarcasm didn’t sacrifice his lyrical legerdemain on “Dumb It Down.” The articulation of emotion and attention to detail on “Hip-Hop Saved My Life” makes the song easily one of 2008’s most cherished, and the ample airplay for “Superstar” and many weeks as Billboard’s top rap record re-established Lu’s nascent star power.
The coolest thing about The Cool was that Lupe was able to maintain his rap incorruptibility when recording it. Fiasco just didn’t care that the over-the-headness of some of his lyrical bars may have reaped disparagement from critics or fans — but since The Cool is already certified gold, it’s obviously caught some ears. The Chicago native’s profile is higher than its ever been: Late last year he top-lined his own tour, and this spring Fiasco has become such an attraction that fans are getting to venues early to catch his opening act on Kanye West’s Glow in the Dark Tour .
“I wanted to work with him because of his fearlessness when it comes to his music. He’s got swag. It’s not the same swag — by definition — as I have, but he has it. He’s not trying to fit in with other people. He’s carving out his own lane. You gotta respect him for that — and he’s skillful.”
“She would be my queen/ I could be her king/ Together, she would make me cool/ And we would both rule, forever/ And I would never feel pain/ And never be without pleasure ever again/ And if the rain stops and everything’s dry/ She would cry/ Just so I can drink the tears from her eyes/ She’ll teach me how to fly/ Even cushion my fall/ If my engines ever stall/ And I plummet from the sky.” — From “The Coolest”
“Superstar,” “Hip-Hop Saved My Life,” “Paris, Tokyo”
“Superstar” remix (featuring Young Jeezy and T.I.),
“Dumb It Down,”
“Us Placers” (featuring Kanye West and Pharrell Williams)
Key Guest Appearances
N.E.R.D.’s “Everybody Nose” remix (also featuring Kanye West and Pusha T)
Headlined his own The Cool tour in late 2007/ early 2008; opening act on Kanye West’s Glow in the Dark Tour in spring 2008
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.