As we predicted back in January, Wale, Kid Cudi and Drake have had a huge impact on hip-hop this year. They've not only built a buzz for themselves, but they've found themselves standing alongside the likes of Jay-Z, Eminem, Kanye West and 50 Cent. And, as GQ magazine points out, they've helped to quell hip-hop's gangster persona and usher in a real-life focus. The three MCs are featured in the GQ's Men of the Year issue in an article titled "Gangsta Killers."

"Anybody from Cleveland will tell you, I wasn't in the street," Kid Cudi said. "Ask them, they'll say, 'Scotty was the goofy class clown.' "

The article points out the contrast between songs about "duct-taped kilos, exotic firearms, and freaky girls" and the lyrics of this up-and-coming generation of rappers. Cudi's introspective raps have helped secure him a dedicated following that propelled his single, "Day N' Nite," into a top-five hit and stoner anthem, and his debut album, Man on the Moon: The End of Day, sold over 100,000 thousand copies in its first week. Wale's attention to lyrical detail has established him as D.C.'s first major hip-hop artist, and his live show earned him a spot as the leader of this year's VMA house band and touring with Jay-Z. And Drake, whose So Far Gone mixtape and "Best I Ever Had" single made him the object of a label bidding war this summer, stood verse-for-verse with Eminem, Lil Wayne and Kanye West on "Forever."

While they have each helped to establish a new aesthetic for rap, they aren't too keen on being called "Gangsta Killers."

"The dope boy is going to be a fixture of black culture as long as 'thug' is a legitimate option alongside 'job,' " Drake told GQ. "But I'm not going to rap about how much crack I sold."