Why Is Kanye West So Hot About MTV’s “Hottest MC?”March 7th, 2013
By Gee King
Long before Jay-Z made the ritual of hip hop fans arguing “about who’s the best MC” legend on his 1997 single “Where I’m From,” debates were a treasured part of the culture. The competitive nature of hip hop has always fueled the need to determine a top dog. But as the game has evolved, the conversation has spread from New York barbershops to mainstream media outlets. The hype surrounding MTV’s annual “Hottest MC in the Game” list is higher than ever this year as an increasingly global game struggle to agree on a universal curriculum for “hotness.” The answer is no longer as simple as “Biggie, Jay-Z or Nas” and anyone from the hood harmonizer Future to the hipster-hop favorite Big Sean could arguably be given the title. With everyone from Kanye West to A$AP Rocky weighing in on the hotly contested list, it’s important to distinguish the difference between terms like “hottest,” “best,” “MC” and “rapper.”
Kanye West’s impromptu call-in to Hot 97’s Angie Martinez show yesterday blew up the blogosphere after his hilarious declaration that he gave MTV’s Sway his first television set. But the more interesting part of his call came when he declared Lil Wayne the best rapper alive and argued that G.O.O.D. Music protégé Big Sean is hotter than the MCs listed above him. Granted, much of this was just an example of “Kanye being Kanye,” but his assertions deserve consideration. Many would argue that Wayne is long past his prime as an MC, but according to Kanye, his legacy grants him eternal status alongside Jay-Z and Eminem. But according to MTV’s criteria, legacy is nothing in a hottest MCs conversation that only considers each rhymer’s past year of production. And although Kanye killed every verse he dropped in 2012, some would consider him fortunate to be on the list considering he didn’t even drop a solo project during the year.
A$AP Rocky had an equally outrageous radio appearance to announce his disapproval of the list. Speaking to Power 106 in L.A., Rocky sounded rather cocky while contesting his placement as number eight on the list. “All my videos are s—-ing on any hip hop video out there, let’s be honest,” he said boldly before taking credit for returning gold and the double-time rhyme scheme to the mainstream. While his diverse influences and fashion icon status definitely set him apart from his peers, does being on the cover of Vogue really make you “hot” in the hip hop world? Both Rocky and West sound a little delusional considering the bigger picture, but their passion should be respected. It’s definitely fair to say that both MCs possess more artistic credibility than Future and 2 Chainz, who are both more fitting of MTV’s criteria. But what does that say about what today’s fans and media members value from modern MCs?
Danny Brown added his two cents to the debate on the Harry Fraud-produced “#HottestMC,” in which he declares his dominance. In his world, he’s certainly up for consideration. But when you take the fragmented nature of the game into consideration, no one has true claim to the throne. Especially with the difference between MCs and rappers having never been more difficult to distinguish on a mainstream level. Whoever MTV reveals on this Thursday’s final show, the debate will rage from barbershops to blog comment sections for as long as hip hop is alive.