Response to this year's Hottest MCs in the Game debate has been overwhelming since we announced it last Monday. The voting for the fan poll is up a whopping 420 percent compared to last year. Comments have quadrupled from a year ago, topping 2,000 entries as of press time. You, the fans, the bloggers, everyone weighed in and passionately pleaded the case for their favorite rappers to make the list.
Which led us to one conclusion: We have to give you a seat at the roundtable. So we're pushing the countdown back until October. What's more, we're going to do things differently. We're factoring in your voice.
In previous years, each member of the Hip-Hop Brain Trust compiled his or her top 10 list separately. We then took the individual lists and made one master list based on a point system that awards artists 10 points for every time they were ranked #1 on a list, nine points when they're ranked #2 and so on. Once the master list is set, then the debate really begins as each position is reviewed, points are parceled, and every angle is discussed. Positions aren't locked in until the big show when a consensus vote is reached by the group on each slot.
This time, however, your list counts.
Your fan-poll votes will be compiled to be another list alongside ours. Your voice will count in the debate, and our moderator Sway will represent your case — your comments, arguments and insights — during the roundtable. It sounds like a great partnership to us.
Joe Budden's underground appeal? 50 Cent's star power? Jay-Z's legendary status? Eminem's comeback? Soulja Boy Tell'em's army of Twitter followers? We hear you loud and clear. The finest hip-hop minds at MTV News have had some of the same thoughts.
As we do with each Hottest list, we start by judging on accomplishments from a very short timeline. Rather than analyzing an entire career's span, like we did for our Greatest MCs and Greatest Hip-Hop Groups of All Time lists, we decided to break down what's going on right now. That doesn't mean you can't make the list if you're a legend. Andre 3000 and Jay-Z are two legends who have made our previous two Hottest lists.
For our 2009 list, we looked at the work of the most prominent MCs of the past year and factored in the following: How have his or her words penetrated the mic? Does their flow enthrall you? We look at success, both musical and entrepreneurial. Do they sell records and ringtones? Do they top the charts? Are their records heavily spun on the airwaves? Do they have businesses that flourish? Have they put other MCs in the game? Do companies clamor to get them to endorse products? Finally, there's the intangible impact. You can look at metrics such as Google hits, Twitter followers and YouTube views — which we do — but do these guys also move the cultural needle? Can they provoke conversations? Do they start trends? How dedicated are their fans?
Jadakiss' flow might push him past Raekwon's influence. Kid Cudi's buzz could be topped by T.I.'s sales. But it only matters if the artist is active right now with a project, either in stores or in the streets, over the past year, or if they've made some game-changing guest appearances. To be considered the Hottest MC in the Game, you have to matter more than anyone else at this very moment.
Last year, Kanye West topped the list. The year before, we crowned Lil Wayne the hottest of the hot. This year, it's up for grabs. Between the freshmen, veterans and even the greats — all of them are in the arena.
Beginning on Monday, August 24, we'll roll out the curriculum vitae of each artist on the poll using your comments, video uploads and our perspective as we make the case why these MCs are in the conversation. And throughout the month, we'll be hearing from all sides of the debate: producers, DJs, radio personalities, music journalists and even the artists themselves. We'll also have feedback from celebrities, actors and athletes, too.
So keep voting. Log on to MTVNews.com every day. And get ready to bring the heat.
The polls will close September 21, and the roundtable will convene — and you'll be right there with us!