It is here: As promised, the top-five vote-getters in our poll for "Hottest Breakthrough MC of 2010" will be revealed this week. These are the artists you guys voted for over the past month, and we can't express enough how overwhelmed we were by your participation in this project. More than 200,000 votes came in, and they were tallied as of midnight Friday. Keep in mind, the unveiling of the names this week are the top five, but in no particular order. The winner of the "Hottest Breakthrough MC of 2010," as voted on by the MTV News audience, will be revealed Sunday (July 25) at noon on the "Sucker Free Summit."
Chosen One: Wiz Khalifa
Rising in the Ranks: When Wiz Khalifa talks gang affiliations, it's not about red or blue. It's the yellow and black: the colors of the Steelers, Pirates and Penguins of Pittsburgh. The past couple of years for Khalifa have brought constant elevation, not just with his daily fruits and vegetables (the green kind), but in the public's awareness of him and his artistic acumen.
Wiz spent 2007 and '08 waiting to drop an album on Warner Bros. Records that never materialized. He kept his name in the streets and on the Internet by releasing a slew of mixtapes in the interim, developing a small cult following. Wiz's fans were eventually dubbed the Taylor Gang, after a group of MCs he was down with in Pittsburgh. Last November, he put out an independent body of work called Deal or No Deal as a sort of declaration that he would make it in the game regardless of whether he had the backing of a major label.
Deal spawned the popular "This Plane," which has been soaring in the past few weeks with a video on MTV Jams and, of course, online. The blogs and Twitter is where Wiz has thrived unlike any MC in his peer group. The Taylors have been very active with their rabid love for Khalifa. His Kush & OJ mixtape was so heavily downloaded and talked about when it came out in April (just in time for 4/20) that it became a trending topic on Twitter and Google.
Wiz's musical appeal lies with his melodies and his lovable stoner mentality.
Early Insight: "There's certain cities where you have that hometown pride. Pittsburgh is just one of those cities where you go hard for anything that's Pittsburgh," Wiz explained. "Knowing that everybody's got my back and knowing that I keep it real with everyone back home, 'cause I still live in Pittsburgh, so people still see me every day. People see me at the gas station, eating wherever everybody's eating. I sign autographs and take pictures, but I'm still a regular person. I never thought I was going to be that dude — you know, to really put Pittsburgh on the map — but it's cool."
Blistering Ballistics: "I live life sucka free/ That's why them n---as you be wit talk down like they don't f--- wit me/ I get money realistically/ And the homies show me love/ Groupies wanna leave the club wit me/ Ain't nothin' to a G/ Let your hair blow in the breeze/ Roll some bomb-ass weed." — from Khalifa's "The Kid Frankie"
Forecast: The tide has definitely turned in Wiz's favor. His Internet presence is steel-cage solid, and his fanbase has been steadily growing. Now his big-homie peers, such as Rick Ross, have taken notice and are calling him for features. The biggest thing Wiz has on his side right now is freedom. He's a free agent, making his next album at his leisure and with his own creative vision. Kush & OJ is being heralded as his best project to date, so his follow-up is pivotal. Besides the aforementioned album, Wiz has also been crafting his mixtape Cabin Fever (think more private jets than out in the woods), so the sky can literally be the limit.
MTV News will be rolling out the top-five candidates for "Hottest Breakthrough MCs of 2010" all week — with the winner being revealed on MTV2's "Sucker Free Summit" on Sunday at noon!