Everyone has their favorite rapper, and trying to argue personal tastes is an exercise in futility. So as MTV gears up for “Hottest MCs in the Game VIII,” a number of things have to be considered before the debate begins. Your choice MC can be as lyrical as Jay-Z or buzzing like Future, but unless he or she hits a certain criteria, they can’t be considered among the hottest of the past year.
Before the “Hottest MCs in the Game VIII” kicks off Sunday at 11 a.m. ET on MTV2′s “The Week in Jams” we figured we’d break down what it takes to be a Hottest MC.
Impact: Since hip-hop’s humble beginnings, MCing has always been about moving the crowd, and while the culture may have gotten bigger than 1980 park jams, the same fundamental rule still applies. In order to be considered among the hottest, you have to have an impact like Kanye West or T.I., artists who are able to shift the rap’s landscape, whether it be with soul samples or their own brand of trap music.
Lyrics: Shiny chains, flashy clothes and platinum plaques are all nice, but without formidable bars, it’ll be hard for any artist to gain respect in the rap game. Whether you’re spitting about “good kush and alcohol” like Lil Wayne or being a good kid in a mad city like Kendrick Lamar, make sure those lyrics are sharp.
Sales: Cash rules everything around and though certain corners of the industry may be experiencing a sales slump, the top MCs are still able to keep the registers ringing. Just ask rappers like Nicki Minaj, Rick Ross and 2 Chainz, you can’t ignore platinum and gold.
Buzz: It’s not enough to just have lyrics. You can be the best lyricist on the planet, but if no one is aware of your rap existence then your talents will just fall on deaf ears. Are you on the top DJ’s playlists, do the blogs cover you, are you trending topic on Twitter? Who is talking about you and where?
Style: Lyrics are important, but they only tell a piece of the story. Without a formidable rap style, those well-crafted bars might as well just be words on a page. In hip-hop, delivery is everything and it doesn’t stop in the booth. Spitters like A$AP Rocky and Drake don’t only have distinct rap styles; they also have unique looks that influence their respective fan armies.
Intangibles: There are some things that just can’t be taught. More often than not, the best spitters in the game practice their bars until they get them just right, but what about swag? When it comes to MCs like 2 Chainz or Big Sean, there is a certain star-quality that just can’t be measured.
It all begins Sunday, when MCs #10 and #9 will be revealed on MTV2′s “The Week in Jams” at 11 a.m. ET. On Monday and Tuesday, #8 through #5 will be revealed online at Hottest.MTV.com. The #4 and #3 Hottest MCs will be unveiled during a special “RapFix Live” on Wednesday at 4 p.m. ET on MTV Jams and MTV.com. The #2 and #1 MCs will duke it out next Thursday (March 7) during our “Hottest MCs in the Game VIII” special at 10 p.m. ET on MTV Jams.
Stay tuned, and don’t forget to hit us using the hashtag #HottestMC.