Wiz Khalifa stays high, so as expectations for his debut album, Rolling Papers, shot through the roof, the Pittsburgh rapper made good by delivering a gold-selling LP last March — with multiple hit singles to back it. That success and more was enough to take him from MTV's 2010 Hottest Breakthrough MC to the Hottest MCs in the Game VII list.
Not only did the Taylor Gang general snag the #2 spot on the Billboard 200 in his first week out — behind Britney Spears — he also dropped a collaborative album with Snoop Dogg (Mac & Devin Go to High School), blessed fans with the Cabin Fever mixtape, and sold out shows around the world on his Rolling Papers Tour. When it was all said and done, the Kush and Orange Juice spitter clocked in a reported $11 million and snagged the #11 spot on Forbes' Hip-Hop's Top Earners list.
"First of all, he won the Hottest Breakthrough MC and really fulfilled the promise that we all knew that he had," MTV News Senior hip-hop Writer Rob Markman said. "To be this young and have this many accomplishments, almost three albums in a year, you gotta give it up to dude."
The criteria to be considered a Hottest MC are based on a combination of factors: impact, buzz, sales, lyrics, swag and the intangibles. The Taylor Gang captain meets all of them. His impact was huge, just look at the way veteran artists like Snoop and Juicy J lined up to collaborate with the youngster. Wiz's buzz kept him a part of the overall 2011 hip-hop conversation and he notched impressive sales numbers. Khalifa also has a strong sense of style, as seen in his New York Times style magazine feature last September. And his relationship with Amber Rose kept him in the tabloids, adding an intangible element to his growing celebrity.
After each member of MTV's Hip-Hop Brain Trust submitted their personal Hottest MCs lists, Wiz landed the #8 spot. But then things took an interesting turn. After a heated roundtable debate and subsequent vote, Khalifa was bumped to #9 and G.O.O.D. Music upstart Big Sean snatched the #8 slot. The argument was fiery, and though most of the panelists agreed that Wiz's success was remarkable, some contended that Rolling Papers was a critical disappointment and Khalifa had lost some steam in the past few months.
"It's a good album, but I think with the momentum and expectations, it didn't live up to the hype," said Yomi Desalu, MTV's senior director of music and talent programming strategy.
"But I just feel like I want him up there because of the full year, of the full stride, of the Rolling Papers Tour, of what he [accomplished]," Rebecca Thomas, an MTV News editor and writer, argued.
If Wiz's final position on the "Hottest MCs in the Game" list is debatable, his impact on hip-hop over the past year is irrefutable. With a bunch of accolades already under his belt, Khalifa has nowhere to go but up!
Tune in to MTV2 on Sunday, February 19, at 10 p.m. ET/PT to catch "MTV2 Presents: Yo! MTV Raps Classic Cuts," then watch "Hottest MCs in the Game VII" immediately after at 10:30 p.m. ET/PT before capping the night off with "Sucker Free Certified" at 11 p.m. ET/PT.