In order to determine this year's Hottest MC, the seven members of MTV's Hip-Hop Brain Trust were asked to come up with their own individual lists based on a set of criteria that takes into account lyrics, sales and impact. The panelists' solo lists were then tallied and combined into one master ranking that was debated during an extensive roundtable discussion. Eventually, with MTV News' Sway Calloway moderating, the top 10 were cemented.
On the way to crowning Kendrick Lamar the Hottest MC in the Game, though, tough decisions had to be made. In the end, some of the Brain Trust's personal favorites, including Jay-Z, Lil Wayne and Nicki Minaj, were left off of the list. These hugely important MCs didn't meet enough of the specified criteria, which focused on the calendar year, from February 2012 to February 2013.
Jay, for one, stayed plenty busy last year, helping to welcome the NBA's Nets to Brooklyn by selling out a string of solo shows at the Barclays Center. There were a number of guest features, too, like G.O.O.D. Music's "Clique" and Rick Ross' "3 Kings," but when it came down to his own material, Hov only dropped one single in 2012, and that was the Blue Ivy dedication "Glory," released right before our penultimate roundtable, "Hottest MCs VII."
"He's been very preoccupied, obviously raising his daughter and raising the roof for the Barclays Center, so that kind of kept him out of the studio," reasoned Yomi Desalu, MTV's VP of Music and Talent Programming.
When it came to our sales criteria, Minaj made a killing with her platinum-selling sophomore LP, Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded. And while the April LP had notable rap selections like "Beez in the Trap" and "I Am Your Leader," the other half of the album focused more on pop fare like the RedOne-produced tracks "Starships" and "Pound the Alarm." And that was true to Nicki, who transcended typical hip-hop boundaries by becoming the first rap star judge on "American Idol."
"She may not necessarily want to be defined as [just] a rapper," argued Brain trust veteran Steven Roberts. "Just telling from this project that she put out, it's half hip-hop — it wasn't a dedicated project for one thing."
Tunechi didn't have an LP of his own in 2012 but that didn't stop him from hitting the studio to churn out his Dedication 4 mixtape, as well as hit single "No Worries" and current chart-climber "Love Me," both from his upcoming I Am Not a Human Being II.
Wayne also lent his bars to others, dropping verses on French Montana's "Pop That," T.I.'s "Ball" and Juicy J's "Bandz a Make Her Dance." With his 10th solo album slated for a March release, there's a great chance that Wayne will make his "Hottest MCs" return next year. But though he toured the world, racking up record receipts, there's no denying Wayne spent a dominant year chasing pursuits outside music.
Weezy established his skate-influenced Trukfit clothing line as a fashion force to be reckoned with, selling the gear in major retailers like Macy's and Dillards. The YMCMB boss balanced his business ventures, including a partnership with Mountain Dew, with his growing love for skateboarding. It became clear that, at least for now, Wayne's love for the microphone had been surpassed by his love for the decks.