Hate it or love it, MTV News' "Hottest MCs in the Game" list is well respected — just ask the artists themselves.
"MTV, y'all's top 10 is the certified top 10," Game said last week on Ed Lover's Power 105.1 radio show, when the Compton star was interviewed with several members of MTV's Hip-Hop Brain Trust. "I don't think it's another top 10. People scramble [to see] who's the best MCs all year. I don't think fans respect anything more than MTV's list."
"Justice! Justice! Justice for the downtrodden and the oppressed!" Lupe Fiasco yelled recently at a stop on Kanye West's Glow in the Dark Tour when MTV News correspondent Sway told him he was one of our "Hottest MCs in the Game." "Justice does exist in this world, ladies and gentlemen."
Lupe was very vocal when he was left off last year's list — and didn't even receive an honorable mention. "Yeah, I went and found all of the individual board members and asked them what was up," Fiasco said. "It feels good, man. I used that as motivation. I took that as, 'Oh, OK. I'll be back.' And I came back with a vengeance. [The Cool] is gold. Smash record that was nine weeks at #1. The bells and whistles and everything that comes with it. So, you know, I'm happy. I'm happy. A Grammy that just came out of nowhere. It feels good, man, the work. So now I've got to find something else to motivate me again, so I can be the underdog. I like being the underdog. I like that. It feels like you've got something to achieve. You wake up in the morning with a purpose."
Lupe placed seventh — one above Young Jeezy.
"I love Jeezy. Jeezy's got charisma," Fiasco said of the Snowman. "Even with the stuff he talks about — people say it's worlds away and worlds apart — I come from the world that Jeezy comes from. I'm from the 'hood and the whole situation. And the way he articulates it ... it motivates you. Like that's what his first album was, Thug Motivation. It really is like he's a motivational speaker, the charisma and the energy that he puts into the record. ... Like Tupac, the way he gives it and the way he says it and the ad libs, the whole thing. The way he sets it up for you. It's just phenomenal."
Mr. 17.5 was in his Dirty South Studio in Atlanta when he was told he made the list. "I'mma respect that, though," Jeezy said. "I feel at the end of the day, I take what I do very seriously. You only gonna get out what you put in."
Jeezy did take a brief hiatus last year after putting out the USDA album. But he's since gone on a tear with cameos, catapulting him into the top 10. "Sometimes you gotta give it a break," Young said. "You can't be all over the place all the time. It has to be an event when you jump on something. Normally you wouldn't do that. Now I'm on it. If it sounds right, I'm on it. If [the song] sounds right and I like it, I'm on it. I don't need no money or nothing."
Rick Ross, whose swagger and lyrics have been a staple in the game this past year, earned the #4 spot on the 2008 list.
"You get into best of the best," the boss said about going top five. "You looking at moguls, entrepreneurs, bosses when you crack that top five. That's where the boy wants to be. That's where everybody should aspire to be if you in the game and wanna go to that next level."
Ross was delighted to make the list. He felt he's come a long way. "Just being a fan of the game and coming from the streets and now participating in the countdown is something you can be proud of. It's definitely an accomplishment. It's all good, man."
"His presentation!" Ross said of why he respects West. "The level, the art. You see the art when you look at it. It definitely inspires you. Even if it's a different genre, a different lane, it still is gonna inspire you. I get that from Kanye. Listening to different records, it sounds like he made them for arenas.
"Jay's the best," Ricky Ross continued. "It's not even a comparison. Hands down ... Jay's the best. Either way you look at it, from the music standpoint to the accolades to the new GMC Jay-Z Denali. So Jay, that's how he's been able to remain relevant. He's the best."
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.