Hottest MCs In The Game: How Is The List Compiled?

In October, the reveal of MTV News’ 2009 “Hottest MCs in the Game” list begins. Before you start running up on the MTV News Hip-Hop Brain Trust members on the street asking why Tupac Shakur, Notorious B.I.G. or some of the other greatest MCs of all time aren’t on the list, let’s reestablish the criteria.

First, note that — as it was in 2007 and last year — the list is based on an MC’s accomplishments over the past eight to 12 months. Rather than analyzing an artist’s entire career, like we did in our “Greatest MCs of All Time” series in 2006, we break down what’s going on right now. That doesn’t mean legends can’t make the list: Jay-Z and Outkast’s Andre 3000 have made our previous two lists.

For the criteria, we factor in the following: How the MC’s words penetrate on the mic: Can their lyrics stab hearts, does their flow enthrall you? Obviously we look at how they implement their talent with the quality of music as well. The music is always primary, but not the only aspect of a Hot MC. We look at their success, both musical and entrepreneurial: Do they sell albums, singles 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? And finally, there’s the intangible, impact: Of course you can look at metrics such Google hits, Twitter followers and YouTube views — which we do — but do these MCs move the needle on the culture? Can the mere mention of their names start conversations? Do they start trends? How much do they get fans engrossed? What’s their buzz? Keep in mind though, these are the main factors. When the Hip-Hop Brain Trust sits down, passion over a certain issue or artists will ultimately determine who ranks where.

The Hip-Hop Brain Trust is currently comprised of eight MTV staffers — Tuma Basa, Buttaman, Rahman Dukes, Sean Lee, Shaheem Reid, Steven Roberts, Jayson Rodriguez and moderator Sway, who expresses his opinions at the round table but does not vote. Prior to convening, all Trustees will come up with their own personal lists — which we’ll disclose once the entire list is revealed — choosing who they felt were the MCs dominating in their craft. This year we will also tally up a list of the fans’ top 10. There’s a poll running our Web site right now (voting closes on September 21) where we pose the question, “Who is the Hottest MC in the Game?” The top 10 choices from this readers’ poll will be included this year, with Sway representing them at the table. Once all 10 lists are in, we mathematically add the total in one master list. Each rapper gets 10 points for every time they rank #1, nine points for #2, and so forth. Once that is accomplished, the Hip-Hop Brain Trust will sit down at the table and fight it out. Keep in mind, just because an artist makes the master list, that doesn’t mean that he or she cannot be taken off and replaced with MCs from outside the mathematical top 10. Others can rise of fall within the top 10.

We’ve had plenty of controversy over our past lists — Lil Wayne won in 2007; Kanye West in 2008 — and this year’s will undoubtedly be the most controversial yet!