The 2009 Hottest MCs in the Game rollout is on! As in 2007 and 2008, the list, determined by the MTV News Hip-Hop Brain Trust, is based on an MC’s achievements right now, rather than an entire career. The criteria is based on a combination of rhyme skill, flow and how those things are implemented musically as the main factors. The Brain Trust also considers buzz, impact, commercial success — sales, airplay, business ventures, Web presence, endorsements and helping to spawn other artists’ careers — and the intangible, impact: Can an artist not only contribute to the rap game but influence cultural shifts? Are they trendsetters? All of these factors — and the results of our audience poll, which closed last week and gets a vote at the Roundtable during the Brain Trust’s debate — contribute to deciding who is the Hottest MC in the Game. We’ll be announcing an MC’s rank every day this week, with the full list revealed Sunday at 10 p.m. during “P. Diddy’s Starmaker”!
Flame Thrower: 50 Cent
2009 Rank: 9
Previous Rankings: 2007 (#8); 2008 (#6)
Why He’s Hot: Over the past year, 50 Cent chose not to roam on one of his main predatory terrains, the Billboard charts, by continuing to hold back the release of his long-awaited Before I Self-Destruct LP. Instead, the G-Unit General began to fully realize the potential of another region in which he’d already planted his flag: the Internet.
50 Cent used his Web site, ThisIs50.com, as a source of promotion for himself and G-Unit members Tony Yayo, Lloyd Banks and DJ Whoo Kid. More than any other artist in hip-hop, Fif saw the Internet’s potential, and in 2009, he just about perfected his vision. No other hip-hop artist has been able to capitalize off their name and accompanying Web site the way Curtis Jackson has. He pushes G-Unit mixtapes, world-premieres the crew’s song downloads, promotes shows like the upcoming ThisIs50 Festival and releases viral videos such as his controversial “Flight 187,” in which he showed unflattering stock footage of Jay-Z, Britney Spears and others.
ThisIs50.com, though, has come to be so much more than a vanity Web site. You can’t talk about the top hip-hop blogs without mentioning ThisIs50. Fif’s Web home has become one of the must-stop destinations to get your hip-hop news. The site doesn’t just pick up info and video from other outlets; ThisIs50 also offers exclusive interviews and music. Artists outside of the G-Unit, such as Maino, Papoose, DJ Kay Slay, Cormega and Noreaga are also using ThisIs50 as a venue to put out music and videos.
As much as the site can be used as a valuable tool, 50 also showed the world it could act as a weapon. Fif used his Web site as a nuclear warhead in his battle with Rick Ross : ThisIs50.com’s traffic reportedly doubled once the beef between 50 and Ross started to bake. In his anti-Ross campaign, Fif interviewed Tia Kemp, the mother of one of the Miami heavyweight’s kids, and later released a tell-all book about her life with Ross. Adding petroleum to the fire, he released a sex tape featuring another mother of one of Ross’ kids via ThisIs50 offshoot site BooBooTV.com. And we can’t forget about the popular series “Pimpin’ Curly,” which the G-Unit General at first used to take the sting out of Ross, calling him “Curly” (“He’s not straight,” the Bawse rationalized of the nickname), but it became so popular that he issued several more comedic vignettes to further delve into the character.
Check out our 2009 “Hottest MCs In The Game.”
|»9. 50 Cent|
|»7. Young Jeezy|
|»6. Gucci Mane|
|»5. Rick Ross|
|»2. Lil Wayne|
50’s dominance on the Net isn’t contained to his own Web site: He’s a staple on other blogs and mainstream media outlets. Almost every move he makes is a huge headline, whether it’s clarifying his perceived dis toward Jay-Z on the song “Flight 187,” rumors of him marrying Ciara or even the simplest activities of him coming onstage with Soulja Boy Tell’em during Young Money Presents: The America’s Most Wanted Music Festival. While other artists have tried to throw block parties and park jams as a way to give back to their neighborhood, when 50 tried to do just that at the end of this past summer, not only did he make headlines across the country, he had New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg talking about him in press conferences. And you want to talk about the best interviews in the game right now? No one can deny that 50 has one of the most talked-about sound bites, saying he would “blacken Kanye West’s eye” if Yeezy ever tried to Taylor Swift him.
Musically, yes, 50 has had a couple of missteps. There was an obvious disconnect between 50, Interscope and the fans with his records “Get Up” (released late last year) and “I Get It In,” but on the street level, where 50 is in total control of when and how the music comes out, it was all harmony. 50 and his camp thrived underground. Even though they’ve collectively sold tens of millions of albums worldwide, the Unit still stayed on top of the mixtape game. Banks and Yayo have repped the G-Unit brand with incessant unofficial releases (Banks’ 4-30-09 double CD and Yayo’s Swine Flu series chief among them), while 50 saluted the streets with mixtapes of his own: Forever King and the War Angel LP heated up the summer with a taste of throwback homages and up-to-date urban guerrilla warfare, respectively. His sole mission on the latter was to bring hardcore hip-hop to the forefront. The Southside Queens chief seems to be in the right lane: The Dr. Dre-produced “OK, You’re Right” leapt off of the mixtape to the top of the countdown on his hometown radio station, Hot 97, and the eerily entertaining video got some strong rotation. Same for records from Forever King, such as “Funny How Time Flies,” on which 50 rapped over ’90s R&B group Intro’s classic of the same name.
In the past couple of weeks, Fif has continued to show diversity with another club-knocker, “Baby by Me” (featuring Ne-Yo) and a new book, “The 50th Law.” And although he made a nice #4 rank on Forbes’ list of “Hip-Hop Cash Kings,” his love for his Southside Queens home hasn’t diminished: He (and Bette Midler) co-sponsored the Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson Community Garden in the neighborhood, and in August, 50 spent close to half a million dollars to send 30 busloads of kids from his old neighborhood to Six Flags Great Adventures in New Jersey, and he performed for them there. Just over the weekend, 50 finally got the proper permits from New York City to sponsor a day of food, games and music for the neighborhood. The cost, according to Fif, was another half a mil.
Co-Signer: DJ Drama: “50 keeps himself in the dialogue, period,” Drama said. “The mixtape game right now wouldn’t be what it is if it wasn’t for 50 Cent. He revolutionized it. He had one of the biggest buzzes ever in hip-hop; he keeps feeding people, he keeps putting out music. The War Angel [mixtape], from beginning to end, is classic 50 Cent. If you’re a 50 Cent fan from 2003, it’s hard to hate on the new mixtape. 50 Cent is in a space where he’s so big and he’s been so relevant and the underdog and a bad guy for so long, people try to turn a shoulder on him. But he’s still that guy, he’s still making great music, and when you talk about Hottest MCs in the Game, you can’t have that conversation without talking about 50 Cent.”
Ignitable Incitement: “I made a mistake,” Fif told MTV News recently. “Early on [in my career], I said, ’They’ll get the trophy, I’ll get the checks.’ That’s because I wasn’t receiving the acknowledgement based on the aggressive content I was putting out. I’ve been nominated for 16 Grammy Awards and still ain’t got no trophies. Largest debut in hip-hop to date — they just ignored it when it was time to give the trophies out. So I just started saying, ’They can have the trophies, and I’ll have the checks.’ That didn’t mean that I didn’t have love for the actual art form. But to give a basic answer that people would understand, I would be secure with my life, I’ll continue to make music, but I won’t be in front of them and get recognized. I’ll get a lifetime-achievement award after based on my full body of work. At that point, it’ll be too much for them to ignore. The guy that’s trying to get a record deal right now, he should be writing with very strong passion. Right now, he’s in competition with 50 Cent, and I’m writing like I need a record deal. It’s tough for him.”
Blistering Ballistics: “They say I ain’t lyrical, they say I ain’t a miracle/ I say some hard sh–, so they say I ain’t spiritual/ They act like they know God better than me/ I know ’God Allah,’ he used to pump crack up the streets/ Allahu akbar, clap and run through your backyard/ Let the Mac tear half of your back off/ This is my block, my spot I adhere/ I’m a Southside n—a to the bone, get that clear.” (from “Michael Jackson Freestyle”)
Selected Mixtapes: Forever King, The War Angel LP
Singles: “OK, You’re Right,” “Get Up,” “Baby by Me” (featuring Ne-Yo)
Street Bangers: “I Get It In,” “Flight 187,” “Funny How Time Flies”
Key Guest Appearances: “Crack a Bottle” (with Eminem and Dr. Dre)
Meteoric Metrics: #4 on Forbes’ list of “Hip-Hop Cash Kings”
MySpace Friends: 1.19 million
YouTube Views: 5.43 million
ThisIs50.com Stats: 512,000 unique visitors, 9 million page views, 450,000 members
Business Ventures: G-Unit Records (featuring Tony Yayo, Lloyd Banks, Mobb Deep); ThisIs50.com; Power men’s fragrance; “The 50th Law” book (which recently made the top five of the New York Times’ “Advice, how-to and miscellaneous” bestsellers list); Formula 50 Vitamin Water; co-starred in “Streets of Blood” film
Tours: Although he only played spot dates in the U.S., 50 and the G-Unit have done more than 50 overseas dates this year alone, including stops in Africa, Ireland, Switzerland, Turkey, Peru and Poland
Monumental Moment: His battle with Rick Ross
Forecast: 50 should only get hotter when he finally releases Before I Self Destruct later this year — but not before he drops another mixtape!
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