Not only did MTV News’ “Hottest MCs in the Game VIII” salute the past year’s top talent — a list that included spitters like Nas, Drake, Rick Ross, 2 Chainz and top pick Kendrick Lamar — but it also spurred a ton of passionate debate, from our roundtable but to the vast hip-hop community.
Judging based on lyrics, sales, impact, style, buzz and the hard-to-define intangibles, MTV’s Hip-Hop Brain Trust constructed a top 10 list that will stand until we visit the “Hottest” discussion again this time next year. Still, with so many weighing in on our rankings anyway, we decided to let the folks at Rap Radar, Complex magazine and “Big Boy’s Neighborhood” on Los Angeles’ Power 106 take a crack at building their own lists, using our criteria.
There was a lot of agreement: For example, Kendrick Lamar ranked in the top five for everyone polled, while 2 Chainz (our #2), Rick Ross (#3) and Drake (#5) also made appearances on everyone’s list. But there were also some clear differences. The team at “Big Boy’s Neighborhood,” for instance, believed that Dr. Dre belonged in the “Hottest MCs” conversation.
“One word: Coachella ,” said morning show co-host Rikki Martinez, referring to last April’s festival, where Dre orchestrated a performance alongside a “revived” Tupac. “Who could forget about the Tupac hologram? People were talking about it the whole year.”
If it was up to Brian “B.Dot” Miller, Seattle rapper Macklemore would’ve made the “Hottest VIII” list. “Let’s ask the 4 million people that bought ’Thrift Shop’,” he said of Mack and Ryan Lewis’ super-popular single. “He doesn’t have a record label; I’ve never seen this before from an independent rapper. … He’s hot!”
The team from Complex knows a thing or two about crafting lists. On Monday they ranked they released the 50 Best Rapper Mixtapes, pitting artists like 50 Cent, Drake and Young Jeezy against one another. According to the mag, Jay-Z should be the Hottest MC, despite not having released solo material in the last 12 months.
“I think if you poll any rapper on this list … and you ask, ’Who would you rather have a verse from, Kendrick Lamar or Jay-Z?’ I think they’re going to pick Jay-Z,’ ” said Complex Director of Content Strategy Joe La Puma. “I think that means that he’s still the hottest rapper.”
Beyond all of the debate and differences in perspective, all agreed that MTV News’ yearly conversation is a good one because it captures the power and passion of the hip-hop community as a whole. “Love it or hate it, I think that there’s something great about just being honest about what you’re into,” said Noah Callahan-Bever, Complex’s editor in chief.