While the whole world is watching the 2012 Olympic Games in London, we at MTV News have kicked off a little competition of our own with our first-ever Summer Jam Games. Instead of handing out medals to athletes, we'll be crowning our favorite musicians with the best feel-good summer jam.
Fans can vote in five categories: Hip-hop, pop, R&B, EDM and rock, with gold, silver and bronze medals being handed out next week. There are a ton of tracks to choose from, so here's a breakdown of the top contenders in the hip-hop category.
G.O.O.D. Music feat. 2 Chainz, "Mercy"
After dominating 2011 with Jay-Z and the Throne, Kanye is back, this time with his G.O.O.D. Music cohorts. "Mercy" has all the ingredients for a big-time summer banger: banging beat, dope lyrics and Kanye West. No wonder it's currently atop the Billboard Rap chart.
2 Chainz feat. Drake, "No Lie"
2 Chainz has been buzzing up a storm all year, and the first single off of his highly anticipated solo debut album Based on a T.R.U. Story doesn't disappoint. Let's face it: Nothing says summer like Drake singing on your song's hook, and the infectious Mike Will beat has been igniting dance floors since the song's release in May.
Ca$h Out, "Cashin' Out"
Credit Ca$h Out with having the catchiest rap hook of the summer and the smarts to damn-near self-title his first single so you wouldn't forget his name. Just a note for the kids: When Ca$h sings that he's "ridin' 'round wit that Nina," he actually means a gun, not a girl named Nina. And when he says he's "smokin' on Kesha" — well, just use the context clues.
Young Jeezy feat. Ne-Yo, "Leave You Alone"
Thugs need love too, just ask Young Jeezy. For his stand-out TM 103 single the Snowman enlisted Ne-Yo and veteran G-Funk producer Warren G. for a breezy top-down tune. The song shot up to #2 on Billboard's rap charts and is sure to be a staple for summer time cook-outs for years to come.
Meek Mill feat. Drake, "Amen"
Last year, Meek Mill made serious waves with the street-banger "I'ma Boss," and this year, he's focused on the ladies with "Amen." Not only does the song have a catchy tune, it also comes with a little controversy, and that never hurts any one. Despite a Philadelphia pastor's plea to ban Meek's "blasphemy," the track has crept into Billboard's top 10 rap songs and become a club favorite. Thank God!
Chief Keef, "I Don't Like"
Who doesn't love a little ignorance? Sometimes with all of this summer heat, you just want to blow off a little steam, and rap rookie Chief Keef has made the perfect anthem. Since Keef uploaded the song's video onto YouTube in March, it has garnered more than 10 million views on YouTube and yielded a Kayne West remix. What's not to like about that?
Rick Ross feat. Jay-Z and Dr. Dre, "3 Kings"
Rick Ross, Jay-Z and Dr. Dre generate more than enough heat with their solo records, so you can only imagine the craze surrounding their team-up. "3 Kings" doesn't have a catchy hook — in fact,"3 Kings" doesn't have a hook at all — but the soulful rap exhibition has dominated DJ's summertime playlists and is a dark horse of summer song of the year.
Usher feat. Rick Ross, "Lemme See"
It's a thin line between R&B and rap, especially when genres blend so perfectly. For the steamy "Lemme See," Usher recruits Rick Ross to create the perfect lady anthem. OK, so the track doesn't scream beach party, but it's perfect for the late-night ride home.
Nas feat. Swizz Beatz and Miguel, "Summer on Smash"
Nas knows there's nothing like the power of suggestion. If you want to have the summer on smash, then just make a song called "Summer on Smash." Though relatively new, this Life is Good track finds the Don riding alongside Swizz Beatz and R&B singer Miguel. Sounds good to us.
DJ Khaled feat. Kanye West and Rick Ross, "I Wish You Would"
DJ Khaled had rap's biggest song of the summer with last year's "I'm On One" and this year the disc jock looks to reclaim his crown. This time he pairs Kanye West and Rick Ross over a rowdy Hit-Boy track on "I Wish You Would." Khaled has some tough competition, but then again all he does is win, win, win — no matter what!
Forget about the Olympics, vote now in MTV's Summer Jam Games! Polls are open and will close at midnight ET Sunday (August 5). Guide your favorites to golden glory, and help spread the word via Twitter, using the hashtag #SummerJamGames