To earn a spot on MTV News' "Hottest MCs" list, artists are evaluated on a set of criteria that includes sales, buzz and lyrics but there's no better candidate than 2 Chainz to illustrate just how important the intangibles are.
The Atlanta rapper makes his "Hottest MCs in the Game" debut at #2 after a whirlwind year. At last year's roundtable, 2 Chainz was named "one to watch" by MTV's Hip-Hop Brain Trust, but leaping from honorable mention to #2 is worthy of applause. In 2011, the rapper formerly known as Tity Boi was on fire with the hit "Spend It" from his T.R.U. REALigion mixtape, but that was only the beginning for the Playaz Circle veteran.
His debut album, Based on a T.R.U. Story, didn't arrive until August, but even before that 2 Chainz was impossible to miss: He dropped a now-famous verse on G.O.O.D. Music's "Mercy," hit the strip club with Nicki Minaj on "Beez in the Trap" and even commanded a surprise appearance from Kanye West and Big Sean at SXSW.
By the time he dropped his official lead single, "No Lie," — now certified platinum — 2 Chainz was already the hottest commodity around, joining Drake on his Club Paradise Tour and accompanying Nicki Minaj on her Pink Friday run.
Album: Based on a T.R.U. Story
Selected Mixtapes: N/A
Singles: "No Lie," "Birthday Song," "I'm Different," "Yuck"
Street Bangers: N/A
Key Guest Appearances: A$AP Rocky's "F---in' Problems" (with Drake, Kendrick Lamar); Nicki Minaj's "Beez in the Trap; Trinidad James' "All Gold Everything (Remix)" (with T.I., Young Jeezy)
Meteoric Metrics: "No Lie" was certified platinum in November 2012.
Business Ventures: N/A
Tours: B.O.A.T.S. Tour, Club Paradise Tour (with headliner Drake), Pink Friday Tour (with headliner Nicki Minaj)
Monumental Moment: Best Rap Album Grammy nod for Based on a T.R.U. Story.
Forecast: 2 Chainz plans to drop his sophomore album by summer 2013, and he seems poised dominate the radio and clubs with his signature anthems.
"He goes from Tity Boi to 2 Chainz, basically reinventing himself," MTV News' Managing Editor Rebecca Thomas noted. "Suddenly, we find him not only as the honorary G.O.O.D. Music member, but then he put out B.O.A.T.S., and on that album are songs that carried 2012, from 'Birthday Song' to 'I'm Different,' to 'No Lie.' "
Name an awards show in the past 12 months and 2 Chainz was there. He performed solo at the BET Hip-Hop Awards and joined Lil Wayne at the VMAs before rocking Jay-Z's Made in America Festival. "He may not be a lyricist like Kendrick [Lamar], but he knew what worked for him, and he took what worked for him and was able to apply that to the masses," MTV News Segment Producer Steven Roberts said of Deuce's success.
The Def Jam MC wrapped up 2012 with a Best Rap Album Grammy nomination for B.O.A.T.S. By the top of the year, he was attending Inauguration Weekend festivities, including one where he received the Street Soldier Award for his work with the Respect My Vote campaign. Oh, and did we mention those intangibles? "The fact that on election night, Barack Obama gets elected and the meme that goes around is '2 Termz' ... everywhere you look, there was 2 Chainz," Thomas added.
If it wasn't apparent that everyone wanted to be 2 Chainz's best friend last year, take note of his feature on Justin Bieber's "Boyfriend (Remix)," his appearance in Fall Out Boy's video for "My Songs Know What You Did In the Dark (Light Em Up)" and a cameo on the CBS comedy "2 Broke Girls."