The 2009 Hottest MCs in the Game rollout is now complete! 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 considered 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 got a vote at the Round Table during the Brain Trust’s debate — contributed to deciding who is the Hottest MC in the Game. All this week, we’ll be rolling out reactions from artists, DJs, the MCs themselves — and you! Upload your comments, reactions, arguments and/or your own list to YourMTV.com — the best videos could be on TV!
Flame Thrower: Lil Wayne
2009 Rank: #2
Previous rankings: 2007 (#1); 2008 (#3)
Why He’s Hot:
Why He’s Hot:
2007’s Hottest MC in the Game, Lil Wayne, has been in the top three of the Hottest MCs list three years running on account of his consistently powerful skills on the mic and perennially enormous impact.
Even without an album release in 2009, Weezy’s rep and influence continued to grow, owing to his status as rap’s most active and lucrative touring act, the rise of his Young Money crew of newcomers, and his armor-piercing punchlines on guest appearances.
Just one example of his lyrical marksmanship can be found in Jadakiss’ “Death Wish”: “I’m from the mecca of the reckless/ With a record-breaking debt list/ The wreckers and neglectors think the election won’t affect us,” Wayne raps about his hometown of New Orleans. “I’m knockin’ n—as down this year, I’m on my timber sh–/ Big lion growl at you n—as/ On that Simba sh–.”
Over the past year, the big lion tore up the road for nearly 80 dates on his “I Am Music” and “Young Money Presents: America’s Most Wanted Music Festival” tours, which banked slightly over $42 million — a record for a hip-hop act, according to Pollstar. Wayne’s show was must-see as he exploded onstage with spectacles such as a live band whose members were suspended in the air, sexy dancers, his guitar (heh heh!) and his most important weapon, his charisma. With his swinging dreads, tattooed body and insurgent attitude, Weezy’s stage command was practically a religious experience for fans as he infused rock, pop and all his hip-hop blockbusters into his live set.
Check out our 2009 “Hottest MCs In The Game.”
|»9. 50 Cent|
|»7. Young Jeezy|
|»6. Gucci Mane|
|»5. Rick Ross|
|»2. Lil Wayne|
As boundless as his raps and live performances were, so was Wayne’s media omnipresence. The New Orleans native’s appeal proved universal as he snagged the cover of Rolling Stone magazine for his still-unreleased new Rebirth LP, analyzed sports for ESPN and wooed CBS News’ Katie Couric and the ladies of “The View.”
Weezy’s other big move in 2009 was ushering in others. Wayne may not look like the traditional buttoned-up CEO, but his business acumen proved potent as he helped introduce music’s rookie of the year, Drake. Drizzy’s So Far Gone mixtape (released in February) became so popular that virtually every major label tried to sign him. It was Wayne and his Young Money label that won out, and for good reason: Weezy’s star-powered co-sign has served as a major catalyst for Drake-mania, with the newcomer already being tapped by fans and media to be a rap phenom before he’s dropped a full album.
While other members of Young Money, such as female standout Nicki Minaj, have shown tremendous personality and presence on the mic, the Drake/ Wayne tag team on freestyles and singles such as “Ignant Sh–” “Every Girl,” “Successful” and the all-star team-up of “Forever” (also featuring Kanye West and Eminem) has been lyrically exhilarating, carpeted with ferocious quotables. The prolific duo has planted the flag for Young Money’s takeover.
Wayne’s trusted stamp of quality has even given his career-long recording home, Cash Money Records (of which Young Money is an offshoot), an added rejuvenation. Veteran the Birdman has featured his stepson Weezy on two concrete hits: “Always Strapped” and the current “Money To Blow.” Meanwhile, newcomers Jay Sean and Kevin Rudolf have been able to ride the Wayne bandwagon to the top of the charts with the Weezy-guested hits “Down” and “Let It Rock,” respectively.
Wayne’s ballyhooed guest spots didn’t slow or stay contained to his musical family. He terrorized rough hip-hop tracks for the likes of Busta Rhymes, Rick Ross, Jadakiss and Fabolous — not to mention his spot in T.I.’s all-star track “Swagga Like Us,” also featuring Kanye West and Jay-Z — while even Madonna placed a call to Wayne to add some New Orleans spice to her greatest-hits LP.
Wayne is still music’s number-one go-to guy because his versatile flow, coarse voice and swagger blend with a surprisingly diverse range of musical styles — and when it comes to wordplay, Wayne’s abstract thinking remains on another planet, keeping his innovative bars above his peer group. (Who else in rap would compare the seats of a car to a human posterior, as he did on Ross’ “Maybach Music 2”?)
Although Weezy F. is currently spreading the love to others, we can’t forget that his most major singular accomplishment from last year added to his heat inn ’09. Tha Carter III was the biggest-selling album of 2008 and obviously was a huge reason why so many fans came to Wayne concerts in 2009. The album also took home a Grammy for Best Rap Album in February.
While the long-promised Rebirth LP remains on ice, Weezy’s high volume of high-quality work with the entire music industry keeps him on top — album cycles just don’t apply to the Fireman anymore. The Kobe Bryant of rap is not just a marquee artist; Wayne’s a leader. You see people like Gucci Mane following his dogged work ethic, living in the studio and churning out song after song. Street MCs such as Young Jeezy have incorporated live bands in their stage repertoire after seeing how seamlessly it worked for Wayne — and maybe the biggest nod to Weezy is that record company execs are paying close attention to Young Money’s moves in a hope to emulate their success.
“I nod my head to Wayne, I tip my hat to him. I told him at the BET Awards. I said, ’You doing the new generation of Bad Boy. You’re doing what we did back in ’94, that’s really creating a movement. I tip my hat to him, but now I gotta watch him because he’s competition. But he’s doing his thing. He’s gone from artist to label mogul, so you have to give him his respect.”
“These people all have the drive that I have, and that’s ’never stop working,’ ” Wayne told MTV News about his Young Money artists. “We never get tired. Soon as I meet somebody that never gets tired: ’Let’s do it, and when you ready, let’s go!’ Let’s go, [then] you Young Money. These people right here are that.”
“Pardon the swag, but b—h, its Car-tay/ Long bread, I don’t eat shortcake/ How come I can’t miss a woman like I can’t miss court dates?/ Cheese, but she’s not in this portrait/ Life’s fine, but I do not portray/ And I’mma f— the world, but this is just foreplay/ Tired of hearing bullsh–, bring on the cow sh–/ Haven’t met a smell that’s stinkier than our sh–.”
“Lollipop,” “A Milli,” “Mrs. Officer” (featuring Bobby Valentino), “Got Money” (featuring T-Pain), “Prom Queen,” “Every Girl” (with Young Money crew), “Bedrock” (with Young Money crew), “Comfortable” (featuring Babyface)
“Mr. Carter,” “You Ain’t Got Nuthin’ ” (featuring Fabolous and Juelz Santana), “Let the Beat Build,” “Phone Home”
Key Guest Appearances:
Drake’s “Successful” (also featuring Trey Songz), “Uptown” (also featuring Bun B) and “Forever” (also featuring Eminem and Kanye West), Kanye West’s “See You in My Nightmares,” Birdman’s “Money To Blow” (also featuring Drake), Birdman’s “Always Strapped,” Fabolous’ “Salute,” Jadakiss’ “Death Wish,” Keri Hilson’s “Turnin’ Me On,” Rick Ross’ “Maybach Music 2” (also featuring Kanye West and T-Pain), T-Pain’s “Can’t Believe It,” Madonna’s “Revolver,” Chris Brown’s “I Can Transform Ya,” Mack 10’s “So Sharp,” T.I. and Jay-Z’s “Swagga Like Us” (also featuring Kanye West)
Meteoric Metrics (as of October 2):
$42 million: the combined earnings of Wayne’s “I Am Music” and “Young Money Presents: America’s Most Wanted Music Festival” tours
1 million-plus: First-week sales of Tha Carter III
MySpace Friends: 1,618,594 Facebook Fans: 2,168,793
Young Money Entertainment label (featuring Drake, Nicki Minaj, Gudda Gudda, Jae Millz, Mack Maine, Tyga, T-Streets, Lil’ Twist and Lil’ Chuckie)
I Am Music Tour (2008 and 2009), Young Money Presents: America’s Most Wanted Music Festival (2009)
Showing that the “Best Rapper Alive” may soon be the best label CEO alive by helping to launch Drake’s career and establishing the Young Money camp.
Forecast: Too easy! Wayne’s poised to close out this year with a humungous bang. He has a mixtape soon and the Young Money and Rebirth albums both slated to drop in December. In 2010, he’ll once again be a major contender for the #1 position on this list.
What do you think of Lil Wayne’s placement on the Hottest MCs in the Game list? Upload your comments, reactions, arguments and/or your own list to Your.MTV.com — the best videos could be on TV!