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 — check out the full show!
These guys may not have made the top 10 "Hottest MCs" list for one reason or another, but they have impacted the game during the past several months. And while everyone's goal is to make it to the roundtable's controversial ranking board, an honorable mention is nothing to sneeze at. Just ask Lupe Fiasco, who told us he was so hurt by not getting a mention last year that he wanted nothing to do with this year's list. (We named him #7 anyway.)
Soulja Boy Tell'em
He gets criticized often because of his lyrical deficiency, but somebody is buying into Soulja Boy. The 17-year-old's shows stay packed, his album is platinum, and he's sold well over 3 million ringtone downloads. "Crank That" triumphed not only as a single, but as a worldwide dance phenomenon. What other rapper do you know that could make your grandma — no, bump that — make Denzel Washington lose his Frank Lucas cool and start doing the "Superman"? Adolescents approved his follow-ups, "Yahhh!" and "Soulja Girl," which ensured that he won't be considered a one-hit boy wonder, at least not by anyone under age 20.
He's got so much swag, you have to give him his own set at the club right now. The original was crazy; the remix was the best of the year. Shawty Lo's "Dey Know" made him an automatic street favorite from Bankhead to Brooklyn. Following up with "Dunn Dunn" and "Foolish," he showed his mastery of street anthems. While Lo has had no problem making the dance floor quiver, we're still waiting to see how he holds up in his brewing feud with the battle-tested T.I.
Audacious and awesome, the Game is a perennial top 10 ... that is, when he puts out material. The Compton slayer has been relatively inactive since placing #3 on the 2007 list. If "Pain," a tremendous homage to his hip-hop heroes, would have been out a little sooner, his name certainly would have been argued as a "Hottest" must-have.
Don't put too much thought into it. Get dressed, go to the club and dance to Webbie. He has one of the most entertaining movements going right now with Lil' Boosie and their Trill Fam, and they're doing it on their own. "Independent" was huge, and Web's Savage Life 2 sold close to 100,000 copies in the first week without being a cog in a major-label machine.
Fabolous narrowly missed being in the top 10 again. It's not for lack of lyrics though. He's been wingtip-sharp on a myriad of guest spots from Red Cafe's "Paper Touchin" remix (the references to "The Wire" are insane) to DJ Felli Fel's "Finer Things."
It's funny how all those comparisons to Nelly died down once "Low" started making history. The song set the record for the most downloads in one week, and Flo became the first hip-hop artist to have a debut single go #1 on the charts. Now we know he can make a hit; the big test is if he'll have longevity too.
It looks like Plies is going to have a special career. He has something that's better than lyrics, better than swag: He's felt! The Florida native's pragmatic presence has translated into a swell of underground support. With the "Bust It Baby" remix taking off commercially, his long-deserved breakthrough is on the horizon.
'Cris will make the top 10 of the "Hottest MCs" list. It's inevitable. Somewhere down the line, a guy as talented as Luda has to be ranked as the Hottest in the Game. Since 2007, he's done cameos for Shawty Lo, Gucci Mane, DJ Khaled and Gucci Mane among others. If you asked members of the Brain Trust, plenty are betting that his upcoming Theater of the Mind solidifies his spot in the next set of top 10s.
Elephant in the Room was one of his most consistent LPs, and Joey Crack even started to spread his wings internationally. Not to mention the fact that Coca Baby was able to stand up to 50 Cent in a heated Internet beef. For a while, it looked like Joe just might be able to work his way into the top 10, but it was way too long of a lull between the peak of his first single "I Won't Tell" and the release of a second, "You Ain't Sayin' Nothin'."
Joey Jump-Off has possibly the best mixtape of the year thus far with Mood Muzik III. And though Budden has kept fans waiting for years for his next official LP, his MM series has kept his name in the back of everyone's mind when they think of the best pure wordsmiths.
He did him, all right. "Umma Do Me" introduced Rocko to the masses with one of the most soil-rich themes of the year. The Brain Trust needs to hear a little more before placing him among the elite, however.
P is making more noise behind bars than a lot of MCs who are walking free in the world. On his blog, he's done everything from critique his peers to blast the government and police in the wake of the Sean Bell murder trial. For a guy who people said was done, he still knows how to pique interest — maybe not 50 Cent's or Jay-Z's level of interest, but Prodigy has had a swell of support. H.N.I.C. Pt. 2 is a near classic, though it's still undiscovered by many.
Gucci is a classic example of an overachiever. He's not known for having the best lyrics, or even the best swag, but he is making the most of what he has. Anthems such as "16 Fever" and "I Might Be" keep coming. And while he may never hit super-mainstream stardom, Gucci seems content to be lauded in the 'hood.
S.P., we love you to death, but you didn't capitalize on your last album as you should have. Super Gangster (Extraordinary Gentleman) was one of the best solo LPs to come from the D-Block family, and definitely the best of the Ghost's career, but there was no follow-up to the street-heater "Blow Your Mind." "Alone in the Street," "Let's Go" or even "Holiday" could have all been well-received singles and videos, but nada.
You can't talk about a "Hottest" list without at least bringing this Texas legend's name up in the conversation. Bun is Bun, a timeless spitter who has always been able to maintain respect and fan devotion, no matter what the musical climate is. We cried with him when he lost his longtime partner Pimp , and now we're applauding him as he carries on with his life and career.
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.