The 2009 Hottest MCs in the Game rollout is on! As in 2007 and 2008, the list, determined by the MTV News Hip-Hop Brain Trust, is based on an MC's achievements right now, rather than an entire career. The criteria is based on a combination of rhyme skill, flow and how those things are implemented musically as the main factors. The Brain Trust also considers buzz, impact, commercial success — sales, airplay, business ventures, Web presence, endorsements and helping to spawn other artists' careers — and the intangible, impact: Can an artist not only contribute to the rap game but influence cultural shifts? Are they trendsetters? All of these factors — and the results of our audience poll, which closed last week and gets a vote at the Roundtable during the Brain Trust's debate — contribute to deciding who is the Hottest MC in the Game. We'll be announcing an MC's rank every day this week, with the full list revealed on Sunday at 10 p.m. during "P. Diddy's Starmaker"!

Flame Thrower: Gucci Mane

2009 Rank: 6

Previous Rankings: 2007 (not ranked); 2008 (not ranked)

Why He's Hot: It's been in the air for a couple of years now. Gucci Mane's name has been bubbling — no, boiling over — in the underground scene, and he's been inching his way closer and closer to cracking into the top 10 Hottest MCs in the Game since '07. The Gucc didn't just break through this year; he's been able to leapfrog all the to way to the middle of the pack by having a cult following of pavement dwellers in the 'hood and charming Middle America with a gold-tooth grin and a gaggle of guest spots on high-charting pop hits.

In all his flamboyant splendor, Gucci has accrued a die-hard core following that devours everything he puts out with extreme delight. The mode of attack for La Flare — as he calls himself — has been spending sleepless nights in the studio recording literally hundreds of records. As soon as a song is done — or a hefty amount of them, anyway — he puts it out. Gucc has almost replaced Lil Wayne as the street-CD poster child.

The Atlanta native will never get spoken about in the conversation of great wordsmiths, like a Royce Da 5'9" or a Jadakiss. His subject matter is great, but his wordplay is sometimes criticized for being elementary. So if it isn't his rhyme schemes that have been winning him new fans and accolades and keeping his core satisfied, what is it? Simply put, Gucci is a character. Gaudy jewelry, his own humorous slang such as "burrr" — you may not be able to tell by his shy demeanor in interviews, but the ATL native has a lot of personality on the mic, with his muddy Southern drawl. Also, to put it bluntly, Gucc is extra believable in the eyes of fans. They a see a person who has overcome murder and drug charges to still make it to stardom. They just don't relate to his raps; they see themselves in his music.

On any given night Down South, you can go to a club and hear an hour's worth of new Gucci music — and none of it will be singles pushed by his label. He's been living heavily off the love he gets from the streets. Now, though, Gucci is getting a major taste of stardom because the radio and the rest of the country are cozying up to him. He's been flooding the airwaves, receiving great looks alongside mainstream darlings Mariah Carey, Trey Songz, Omarion, Black Eyed Peas and Mario, while keeping up cameos with concrete heroes like OJ Da Juiceman. Mane is also doing it big in the label structure. His single "Wasted," featuring Plies, is in the top 10 of the Billboard R&B and hip-hop charts.

Co-Signer: Mariah Carey: "He's real. He's one of the realest people I ever met," Carey told MTV News about Gucci. "He's nice. He's cool. He's talented. We got together, I listened to his music. There's something that reminds me of the moment when I first met ODB. It's like when you're working with somebody that really contrasts you in a good way. I had a great time. This is really gonna be something I'm gonna remember for a long time. It was amazing."

Ignitable Incitement: "What makes me the Hottest MC right now is that I got that flavor," Gucci boasted to MTV News. "It ain't all about your swag. I got them spices. I'm seasoning it real well for these folk. I won't say I'm the best rapper in the game — I'm not even my favorite rapper in the game. But I say I am probably one of the hardest-working people in the music business. That's what I pride myself on [and am] having success on: just being consistent."

Blistering Ballistics: "Now baby girl done dumped me, she no longer wants me/ I'm no longer hired, she says that I've been fired/ Onto the next one, more fish in the sea/ Girls are like buses: Miss one, next 15, one's comin'/ Gucci Mane crazy and his ice game stuntin'/ Swag so stupid, still the b---h straight dumped me" (from "Break Up")

Hot Streak
Albums: N/A

Selected Mixtapes: Writing on the Wall, The Movie Part 2

Singles: "Wasted" (featuring Plies)

Street Bangers: "Bricks," "Awesome" (featuring Snoop Dogg), "Wonderful," "Photo Shoot," "I'm a Star," "Wasted" remix (featuring OJ Da Juiceman), "She's Got a Friend" (featuring Juelz Santana and Big Boi)

Key Guest Appearances: Mariah Carey's "Obsessed" remix, Black Eyed Peas' "Boom Boom Pow" remix, Trey Songz's "LOL :-)" (also featuring Soulja Boy Tell'em), Soulja Boy Tell'em's "Gucci Bandana" (also featuring Shawty Lo), Mario's "Break Up" (also featuring Sean Garrett), OJ Da Juiceman's "Make the Trap Say Aye," DJ Drama's "Ridiculous," Busta Rhymes' "Hustla's Anthem" remix, Omarion's "I Get It In"

Meteoric Metrics (as of October 1):
MySpace Friends: 292,322
Facebook Fans: 360,116
Unofficial Gucci Mixtapes Released This Year: More than 40
New Gucci Mane Songs To Hit The Mixtape Circuit This Year: Around 150, according to various Atlanta DJs

Tours: When he is not fulfilling his obligations to the court, Gucci is averaging four shows a week since getting out of jail in March.

Monumental Moment: Appearing in the video for the "Obsessed" remix with Mariah Carey — Gucci was already good in the 'hood, but now the mainstream knows his name.

Forecast: Nothing is going to derail Gucci's breakthrough year. He's clearly shown that he can find the balance between the charts and the trap. Look for more of a mixture of mainstream cameos and at least one more official mixtape before '09 is done. Then there's that album that's just about guaranteed to put him in the conversation for the 2010 Hottest MCs list.

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