The nod was due largely to his breakout mixtape, So Far Gone, on which Drake's mix of melodic R&B crooning and biting rhymes propelled him to stardom. This year, the rapper released his first album, Thank Me Later, refining his formula and transforming from rookie sensation to bona fide hit maker.
According to Drake, it's his consistency from a standout mixtape to his successful debut that marks his candidacy for this year's upcoming list.
"I think I had a lot of pressure and a lot of things to prove," Drake told MTV News. "And a lot of the comments last time were, 'He didn't have an album out and he's still a mixtape rapper. He has a lot to prove.' I think with Thank Me Later, it was a solid delivery on a high-pressure situation."
Although Thank Me Later, like its predecessor, features a balance of singing and rapping, Drake said he improved lyrically on the effort and he takes pride his budding skills.
"I worked hard on trying to stay interesting," he explained. "I feel like my flow has evolved a bit from the last time you did [the list].
"One thing I can say, I'm proud of the raps on Thank Me Later," Drake continued. "If you ask me what my corrections would be on this album, I wouldn't say the raps could be iller. They can always be iller, but that wasn't my thing. I was in a more sound-and-hook zone, where I would want to make those stronger. But rap-wise, I think I delivered. 'Over' was a strong rap song. 'Up All Night' and, if you get into the album cuts, 'Thank Me Now,' 'The Resistance,' those are songs I'm proud of, rap-wise. I think, based off of the consistency, it was a good record."
Where do you think Drake belongs on this year's list? Let us know in the comments!
Come back to MTVNews.com next Monday, October 18, when the Hottest MCs in the Game will start to be revealed. And until then, talk about your picks in the comments below.