Ruckus Rapper Rants: Why MTV’s Hottest MC List Is Great For Hip-Hop [Article]
If February is awards season, March is the season of rapper rants in response to MTV’s Hottest MC List. The eighth annual list is put together by Music Television’s brain trust and always provokes a flurry of conversation. 2013’s list is currently being revealed one spot at a time: #10 – Meek Mill, #9 – Future, #8 – A$AP Rocky, #7 – Kanye West, #6 – Big Sean, #5 – Drake, #4 – Nas, #3 – Rick Ross… Who do you think will be #1? This is an inevitable question and one that the rap community depends on, regardless of the actual answer.
MTV’s Hottest MC List isn’t an all-knowing, all-seeing authority on rap rankings; however, it does inject a much-needed sense of competition into the game during an era where everyone loves to act nonchalant about competing at all.
Rap is built on competition: this idea is nothing new. From corner ciphers to back and forth battles to record sale boasts, MCs are conditioned to measure themselves relative to the talent around them. But then again, the past few years have seen a rise in cross-clique collaborations and “We Are The World” posse-cuts, as 50 Cent so eloquently puts it. “Beef” has become somewhat passé and all-out declarations of competition between artists are few and far between. In 2013, strutting your stuff isn’t as much about being the best MC around as it is about demonstrating your elite lifestyle. Taking this kind of angle means rappers are more often embracing each other than competing with each other. That is, until MTV’s Hottest MC List comes around in the dead of winter and the rap universe is thrust into a milky way of hyper-competitive, overly-opinionated, bravado-bathed discussions about who is the hottest MC.
With only part of the list revealed thus far, Kanye West granted his first interview in two years specifically to chime in on the debate. Kanye called DJ Enuff on Hot 97 and said Lil Wayne is the hottest MC in the world, Big Sean deserves to be higher than #6 and MTV must not have measured bar-for-bar because if they had, well you can guess where Kanye would’ve landed right?
Elliot Wilson of RapRadar.com and RESPECT Magazine set the rap Internets on fire this week when he went out on a limb and said his pick for the current hottest MC would be Future. Despite already being on the list at #9, Future impressed Wilson enough with his guest appearances, mixtape and album to get his vote. This selection spurred its own round of discussion because such un-lyrical MCs are rarely seriously considered for the top spot.
Even A$AP Rocky, who sometimes seems as focused on fashion supremacy as rap superiority, got in the ring with exciting enthusiasm saying:
“What other rapper is on the cover of Vogue? Forget trends, let’s get off trends. Lets back to the music. Who brought double time back? Who was rapping like Bone? Nobody. Who brought that flow out? I don’t even use it no more. Everybody rapping like that, now y’all not even going to notice that? It’s frustrating when I’m number eight. Don’t put me at all.”
Do you hear the angst in his voice? He wants that top spot bad. And so does Kanye. Drake was named #5 the other day and no doubt will field questions about his status in the game for weeks to come. And none of this is a bad thing. This kind of list is intrinsically subjective. There is no right answer because everyone experiences music differently and puts weight on different aspects of being an MC. So there is no single rapper who unanimously comes out on top, but instead a sandstorm of opinions (from rappers and audiences) that fans the flames of lyrical competition and puts a rocket up the asses of every artist who feels slighted in any way.
Every year I welcome rapper rant season and MTV’s Hottest MC List because it reminds the rappers they aren’t above being judged on their musical merits just because their lifestyle is cool. And maybe more importantly from my point of view, it reminds fans that even though rappers don’t seem to compete as openly as they once did, they still really care how they’re ranked.
Written by Jonathon “Bizz” Brown for HipHopCanada