In hip-hop, the streets do the talking. And in 2010, the streets anointed Rick Ross their savior.
Not only did his fourth LP, Teflon Don, debut at #2 on the Billboard albums chart in July with 176,300 sold its first week, but Ross had the undeniable street anthem "B.M.F. (Blowin' Money Fast)," which sold more than 100,000 copies despite being available on the free Albert Anastasia EP. What's more, he was still fighting off criticism from being outed as a corrections officer and beefing with 50 Cent. But good music can't be stopped, and Ross supplied plenty of it this year, so the MTV News Hip-Hop Brain Trust voted him 2010's #5 Hottest MC in the Game, the same ranking he received last year.
In a musical climate that doesn't often find artists producing full-length albums that match their hype, Ross delivered a stellar LP from beginning to end.
"Teflon Don, that's the album of the year right now, I don't care what it sold," MTV News' Shaheem Reid said during the Hottest MCs roundtable. "From 'I'm Not a Star' down to ['All the Money in the World'], 'Tears of Joy,' it just really grips your soul when you hear him having the foresight to bring Cee-Lo back. Cee-Lo was singing his heart out. I feel like I'm in church."
"A lot of artists make trendier records, and those trends come and go," MTV News supervising producer Sean Lee said. "But as far as records and art that's gonna stand the test of time, that's what Ross is doing."
"B.M.F." was big at urban radio, hitting #6 on the Billboard Hip-Hop Songs chart. It was almost impossible to not hear it bumping from a car stereo everywhere you turned.
"It has legs like a track star," MTV News senior writer Jayson Rodriguez said. "All summer, it's been rocking. Whether in the 'hood, you hear it banging, [or] opening the BET Hip-Hop Awards. "So it got the 'hood with that record, but [also] big-production performances."
"It's a hard record," MTV Jams' Tuma Basa said. "There's no formulaic syrupy hook on it. It's not some big-branded producer putting his name all over the beginning of the song."
Indeed, the production on "B.M.F." was so heralded that the beatmaker behind it, Lex Luger, became the flavor du jour, even getting recruited by Kanye West ("See Me Now").
Leading up to the release of Teflon Don, the anticipation was clearly there. You could just tell Ross was about to come with something amazing. He recruited F. Gary Gray ("Law Abiding Citizen"), who had directed fewer than 10 music videos in the past decade, to helm visuals for "Super High." He had the Albert Anastasia EP, there were songs leaking from the album with Kanye West ("Live Fast, Die Young") and there was his celebrated joining of Twitter (@rickyrozay).
His presence was felt elsewhere as well. Kanye called him to Hawaii to work on his upcoming My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy LP (he appears on "Monster"), while Diddy started managing him. The two recently formed a group together called the Bugatti Boyz. Ross appeared in a skit on the VMAs this past September, performed at "VH1 Hip-Hop Honors" as well as the BET Hip-Hop Awards (where he won Track of the Year and Club Banger of the Year for "B.M.F."). He even starred in his very own Nike commercial, proving that the rotund rapper is definitely throwing his weight around outside of just music.
The 2010 Hottest MCs in the Game rollout is now complete! As in 2008 and 2009, the criteria is based on a combination of rhyme skill, flow, buzz, commercial success, business ventures, Web presence and cultural influence. Upload your comments, reactions, arguments and/or your own list to Your.MTV.com or send tweets with the hashtag #hottestmcs — the best responses could be on TV or our hip-hop blog, RapFix! For the complete 2010 Hottest MCs list go here.