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 â€” sales, airplay, business ventures, Web presence, endorsements and helping to spawn other artists’ careers â€” 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 â€” and the results of our audience poll, which closed last week and gets a vote at the Round Table during the Brain Trust’s debate â€” 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: Rick Ross
2009 Rank: 5
Previous rankings: 2007 (not ranked); 2008 (#4)
Why He’s Hot:
How did Rick Ross make it to the Hottest MC List’s top five in back-to-back years? Because this top-tier word assassin released what seven of Roundtable members consider the preeminent hip-hop release of the year, Deeper Than Rap.
Deeper ceaselessly and seamlessly did its job, entertaining throughout with Ross’ lithe lyrical delivery, which forms a mesmeric marriage with soulfully melodic tracks that play like the score to an Oscar-winning film.
“Magnificent” mixed Ross’ sophisticated thuggin’ with John Legend’s Grammy-winning starpower and vocal luster to make for one of the most heavily spun hits this year. The striking “Mafia Music” was strong enough to ignite a musical and Internet war with G-Unit. While “Maybach Music 2″ â€” featuring T-Pain, Kanye West and Lil’ Wayne â€” was one of the preeminent posse cuts of the year. Despite all the controversy surrounding his past as a corrections officer, most of rap’s elite not only kept their embrace of Ross, but they worked with him on mixtapes as well as on his LP. The fans, for the most part, didn’t seem to care either. Deeper Than Rap sold more than 150,000 copies in its first week of release. Although those numbers didn’t quite match the quality of the work, the album did top the Billboard albums chart â€” a feat all three of Ross’ albums have accomplished.
Deeper’s campaign showed why Ross became a hustler’s poster child a few years back. The M.I.Yayo Mayor took to the Internet with no less than nine self-produced and self-financed videos to keep his album running, and to introduce mixtape material with his crew, the Triple C’s, and other artists from his Maybach Music Group label. Ross has continued to leverage the Web to keep his relevancy up, with vlogs and behind-the-scenes footage from his videos. Ross and company continue to keep their Jordans in the streets with the recent release of the double-CD mixtape Maybach Music 2: White Sand.
Ross did all this in the face of some tough obstacles: His attempted cover-up of his past employment as a prison guard was brought to light, and Ross later confirmed it. He was mocked by some fans and in a very public battle with 50 Cent. Through it all, the always-confident Rick Ross kept his own smile wide, showing that phenomenal music can swashbuckle through scandal. The fans as well as his peers rallied behind him. 2009 could have played out so much differently for the Big Bawse from Miami but in the end, he got to smile wide and often.
Co-Signer: Rakim “He’s trying to bring the skills back to the table,” legendary MC Rakim told MTV News. “A lot of people don’t give a lot of down-South rappers credit for spitting. He’s one of those brothers that’s trying to bring lyrics back to the table, and he’s doing it. He’s bringing the Miami flavor. I think he’s expressing what he’s living in Miami and what everybody else is doing down there.”
Ignitable Incitement: “I knew all the time,” Ross told MTV News about scoring another #1 album despite his battle with 50 Cent and some fans questioning his credibility. “You gotta really know somebody’s integrity. You gotta know if you’re dealing with a champion or not. When I say ‘Bawse,’ I put that infamous on it because I mean it. If I’m not a boss, I believe I am. I know where I came from and what I accomplished. In my book, I’m certified. That’s what I love about the hip-hop game: It’s competitive. I love when you stack the chips against me, ’cause when I hit those numbers, those odds are gonna be in my favor, so we gotta triple up.”
Blistering Ballistics: “17, tryna man up/ Feed the fam boy, I put that on these damn goods/ All I got was diabetes and a damn hug/ People talkin’ down, callin’ me a damn scrub/ Young n—as, all you wanna do is roam free/ On your own feet, gotta cook your own beef/ I’m too cool for lame dudes to ridicule/ I laugh while I’m doing laps in the swimmin’ pool/ I don’t owe you n—as nuthin’/ Call me two fingers when you see a n—a stuntin’/ Black Phillip Drummond limousines of the Hummer/ Penthouse suite, pretty beach, I call her summer” (from “Usual Suspects”)
Album: Deeper Than Rap
Selected Mixtapes: Maybach Music II: White Sand
Singles: “Magnificent,” “All I Really Want,” “Go” (with Triple C’s and Birdman)
Street Bangers: “Rich Off Cocaine” (featuring Avery Storm), “Usual Suspects” (featuring Nas), “Maybach Music 2″ (featuring T-Pain, Lil Wayne and Kanye West), “Face” (featuring Trina), “Cigar Music (I Do It)” (featuring Masspike Miles), “Mafia Music”
Key Guest Appearances: Red CafÃ©’s “Hottest in the Hood” remix, Jennifer Hudson’s “Spotlight” remix, Birdman’s “Stay Strapped” remix (also featuring Young Jeezy and Lil Wayne), Ace Hood’s “Champion” (also featuring Jazmine Sullivan), DJ Khaled’s “Out Here Grindin’,” Masspike Miles’ “Love Drunk”
Meteoric Metrics: My Space Friends: 435,678
Deeper Than Rap was Ross’ third consecutive #1 debut on the Billboard albums chart — look out, Jay-Z!
9: the number of viral videos Ross released for songs from Deeper Than Rap.
Business Ventures: Mayback Music Group Record Label (featuring Triple C’s, Masspike Miles, Magazeen)
Tours: No major tour, but Ross performs frequent spot dates.
Monumental Moment: Releasing the classic Deeper Than Rap while withstanding his beef with 50 Cent and controversy over his previous employment as a prison guard.
Forecast: Ross knows that with the tide in his favor, he’d be a fool to take any breaks. The Bawse is going to keeping riding his wave, with the Triple C’s’ debut coming on October 27 and his next solo LP, Teflon Don, due next year.