Rick Ross

Ranking Hip-Hop Hotness: The Unthinkable Task?

Holding up a yardstick against Hip-Hop has always been monumentally difficult.

One of the best things about Rap as the relatively youngest, significant musical genre to date has been its organic development into more diverse sounds, flavors, themes, and colors than we ever considered imaginable some 30+ years ago.

Therefore, ranking greatness or hotness among rappers, producers, DJs, and the like is nearly impossible and, perhaps, annoyingly unfair. Especially to people like me, a certified Hip-Hop head who loves the culture and its many brilliant offerings.

Last night (February 19), MTV hosted its sixth installment of the “Hottest MCs In the Game,” where they survey the rap scene and attempt to place rappers in some sort of hierarchy of influence and dopeness. I say impossible. But, Rick Ross topped the list, and while some of you were surprised and some were angry, many of you were likely nodding in sheer agreement.

I learned my lesson about ranking hotness the hard way recently, as I helped to select AllHipHop.com’s Top 40 Albums of 2011 list.

2011 was an above average year for eclecticism among MCs – there was conscience and rebellion and bravado and artistry and some ratchetness, too. And, the field had also evolved beyond our imaginations to include seasoned rappers, newbies, other cultures, and even a former correctional officer such as Ricky Rozay. And, though there was next to no female presence (to my dismay), I thought it was a good list.

Ultimately, we settled on Watch The Throne as album of the year. OK. Cool. But soon after, a super-respected-in-the-industry friend of mine surveyed the list and said, “You know you’ve let down Hip-Hop, right?” His angst was with our placing The Roots’ Undun album in the number two spot, just below the gigantic pairing of Jay-Z and Kanye West.

Sheesh! Had I let down the entire culture with one decision in a ranked list? Surely, no one could argue that “The Throne” was THE force to be reckoned with last year. But then again, he had a point – The Roots have been catapulted by some of the best lyrics ever spit over unforgettable, live instrumentation consistently for like 20 years.

The decision was impossible, but ultimately, it may be The Throne’s “hotness” that won the day. And, whether we like it or not, factors like their massive marketing budget, gazillion Twitter followers, ability to tap into the youth market, and willingness to take endless shots from the critics helped out, too.

That seems to be the way of the industry in this day and age – being great and being on top don’t necessarily go hand-in-hand. Certainly Jay-Z is one of the dopest ever – but is he doper than Black Thought? Sure, Kanye West will say whatever on a track, but is he more outrageously brilliant than, say, an Immortal Technique? And yes, Rick Ross is flossing on ‘em like nobody’s business, but can he outshine Big K.R.I.T. lyrically when you’re talking about over-obsession with candy-painted cars and rims?

There are countless comparisons to be made in the industry, and frankly, those calls are a matter of taste, life experience, and plain ol’ media persuasion. And, they’re not necessarily representative of the talents of thousands of brilliant MCs that infest our local neighborhoods, or even those lucky few who make it to the limelight.

At AllHipHop.com, our early days were wise ones – it was then that we created our signature “Top 5 Rappers Dead or Alive” list to allow the industry to rank itself in terms of who is best. After all, I mentioned that ranking greatness (or hotness) is a job that no one on my side of the desk ever really wants.

So, no matter what the critics say about MTV’s list, Rick Ross (and his Maybach Music Group empire) has indelibly changed the current Rap game – from cornering the market to garnering the respect of his peers. By some standards, that makes him the “hottest MC in the game.”

But hottest compared to who?

Seandra Sims is AllHipHop.com’s Editor-At-Large. Follow her on Twitter (@seandrasims).

  • I know the haters bout to start that he not real bullshit.. stop…He is the hottest in the game tho…

  • Aaron Davis

    U cnt argue Ross cuz once it comes to lyricism, he’s automically disqualified despite his succes/buzz..Also, Ross didnt drop an albulm last year(or dis year as of yet) so I dnt get how he can be the hottest. No lyricism, no albulm, what did he do as an MC to deserve this title? Wow, MTV fails again smh

    • LOL U FUNNY 

    • TheBoxcarHobo

      I was with you til you said Ross has no lyricism, say what you want about him being a fake kingpin and so on, but you can’t deny the man’s lyrical talent.

  • Says alot. I personally refuse to even listen to dude. i couldnt tell you a single line. And im proud of it

  • rep87

     The Biggest Boss and his MMG running the table as they say in gambling / Now the hate is about to fly and thats what let you know when you on top alot of people are going to talk shit because if he was on the bottom you wouldnt hear nothing

  • daveofthematthews

    This best rapper of the year nonsense is just irrelevant in theory as every person with a mind has their own opinion. in practice however this list is just a reflection of commercial value. it also no doubt carries huge marketing potential when a brand as big as MTV singles out 1 particular person, for both that person and for the big fish that support and promote him/her. The thing that bug’s me about this tho is that 1, They focus on Sales and the money spent on promotion rather than skill’s that an artist has 2, know that by using the term hottest MC’s in the game which is obviously very close to the classic Hip hop question “Greatest rapper of all time?” they are bringing up a very debatable subject will get themselves in the news 3, That they choose not do a more positive inspired list like Most talented rapper in the game for example. Anyway i am  Probably biased to be honest as i don’t really like Rick Ross as i just don’t see his talent. I would have picked Crooked I as number 1 myself but then i would have done for the past few years so whats new….       

  • insaneangelic

    Who looks to MTV for Hip Hop of course they would vote Rick Ross Hottest artist in the game. The Corporations ruined Hip Hop as a artform.

  • if you ask me the nigga if soo ass …like im tired of this nigga sayin bs about cokecaine

  • this nigga aint kkno fkin cocaine boss like really ..he’s ass yoo  its mad nigga in the game right noiw that would tear him a new asshole …..see the thing is the nigga is making money from is bs music ….this is what the industry wANTS….LOL THE SAD SHIT IS THE NIGGA TOOK HIS NAME FROM FREE WAY RICKY ROSS…NIGGA DUMB AND ASS …WTF WASTS NEXT NICKY BARNS OOOH I KNO FRANK LOCUS …LIKE EVERYONE ONN THE GAME WANNA BE A FAKE ASS DRUG BOSS OR SOMETHING …..THIS NIGGA IS A FKKIN JOKE SON LIKE REALLY ………NOTICE THIS JEEZY AND ROSS BOTH SIGN UNDER FAGGET ASS JAYZ …THEN LOOK JEEZY THE SNOW MAN AND ROSS IS A FAKE ASS WANNA BE BOSS ……NICCA PLZ …FK THEM NIGA …THEY DOING SHIT FOR THE HOOD ..BUT MAKING SHIT MORE FKED UP …..CUZ THESE THESE LIL NICCAS OOUT SEEING THE VIDEOS AND SHIT LIKE AND REALLY GOING WITH  THESE FAKE NIGGAS SAY …..IF IWAS IN THE GAME AND I SEEN ROSSAT A SHOW I’LL SLAP THE SHIT OUTTA HIM AND TELL HIM TO BE HIM FK THAT NICCA….. FAKE ASS WANNA BE COCAINE BOSSES WHAT EVER ….THATS SHITS DEAD WITH SCARFACE IN THE MOVIE ……SHITS REAL NOT NO FKIN MOVIE …..

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  • Rick Fawlse is the hottest MC compared too:
    50 Tyson
    K-Fed
    Ron Artest
    Allen Iverson
    Roy Jones
    Joaquin Phoniex
    Chet Hanks
    Julian Assange
    Bang ‘Em Smurf
    Justin Bieber
    Nick Cannon ( Ok , maybe not Nick Cannon )

    • haha hell naw!

    • Adrian Barron

      thats funny i didnt see none of the COMPARISONS you mentioned in the Top 10 …

      • I didn’t see none of the artist the Fawlse compared too in the Top 10 either!

        Chart position or sales don’t make an MC good , if it did Miley Ray Cirus , Whitney Houston, Michael Jackson, etc., would be the greatest MC’s ever.

        “Sales don’t make you the authority , it only means you sold out to the hite majority!” KRS-One ” Over Here ” ( Nelly Diss )

        Another KRS-1 Classic = “Down the charts”  – Listen to it!

  • When it came down to the criteria of the Hottest MC in the Game Who fuckin wit ross? thats the question. He put 2 niggas in the top 10 in a year. So aint no arguement. GFID will be a classic so its time for yall to wake up and respect the hustle.

  • soo you can boast with a fake personality and be the hottest in the game… SMH

    • Adrian Barron

      99.9 of the INDUSTRY has a fake persona … your favorite rapper included.

    • Heartless_Bajan_Bastid

      Yep, and you can also be a fake blood who wears tight pants, makes no sense when he raps and kisses men.  It’s a damn shame really.

  • jay8338

    You boy lover’s on here commiting on who’s real or not sound like some groupie hoes? Lol It’s RAP stupid!!

  • To me, there’s a difference between ‘Hottest’ and ‘Best’. And if we’re talking ‘Hottest’, especially when it’s by someone like MTV, I don’t see a problem with him taking top spot. He’s all over right now. Ok yeah, some of the other folks might have (arguably) a lyrical edge on him but dude staying winning right now. I don’t know why people are getting all pissed about the newcomers and claiming that they are better than him and shit. You might have a good argument behind why but once again, MTV specializes in commercial hip hop, not underground/internet buzzes.

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  • illymac

    Yo stop hating..
    Rozay buzzing in the streetz right now..

  • dude is corny…why we talking about this clown, when we should be talking hip-hop?

  • the list is about the commercial side of it who is making a buzz and is known , and right now ya he is one of them, i do think his raps suck and people think drugs is what you are suppose to rap about right now, drugs is not part of the culture its what the government brought into the US to kill off the black movements like the Panthers to do what they wanted to do divide people and that’s what happened, gangs around even crips were protecting the neighborhoods and when drugs came into play it all went down hill, you have black gangs going at it, brown and black, rappers selling an image of being drug lords,, that makes you part of the system that actualy makes you and uncle tom helping the system destroy your own people, and now kids are brainwashed to think these rappers are cool or lived that life,, he here these people on all these sites say well jeezy a real nigga or so and so a real nigga, what makes them real cause they said they sold drugs???  so if a rapper comes out that was smart went to school and had regular job no one says he a real nigga they might say o he a smart rapper or backpacker, a real nigga isnt nothing but a real nigga, i was reading one person saying ross is not the best rapper but he a real nigga he a boss he getting his money,lol   and for most people that live a regular life going to school or work they sure do want to listen to someone talking about drugs when they still living at moms they self, i never known a big drug dealer talk about selling drugs they always keep it inhouse and never would they brag in music be real why would you???  for yall who like your dope dealing drug dealing rappers, listen to some other type of rappers and you might be like damn i been missing out, you keep hearing the same shit from these rappers like jeezy, ross and alot of others,, you already know a million things happen in life day in and day out why would these rappers they keep signing keep rapping about drugs??? they know what they doing,  think about what you do on a daily basis that has nothing to do with drugs or killings,  think about times u spent with fam,kids, brothers, sisters, uncles, pops, or other things you do, you have to have lived alot of stuff to even be usuing a compuer, why u want to hear about drugs all day in songs what does that do for you what does it make you feel, nothing,,,  when you turn that shit off you go and sit next to fam and have regular talk you dont talk about drugs all day or sometimes at all, so think about that next time when you listen to a music and all you hearing is that rapper talk about drugs ,,,why does tham make them hot???

  • torreysn

    Jay-Z is’nt better then Black Thought.

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  • olaoluelias

    Yuk!!! Am about to puuk

  • BuckFuddy

    Rick Ross is the fattest, not the hottest.

  • True MC’s rely on skills….not marketing & promotion!

  • How many emcees who actually killas really rhyme? artists that are actually signed are still killin’ <—Pharohe Monche

    • Typo:  How many guerillas who actually killas really rhyme…

  • $18916246

    AHHOFFF AHHOFF. AHHOFFICER, RICKAY……BAWSE DETECTIVE….SPITTING THEM KUNTRY FRIED LIES……AHHOFF!

  • Ronald Grant

    Thank you for this article. Hip Hop has always been a hugely subjective topic, as has music period. And music “Top 10” lists are even more so. There’s no way that any person, website, publication or media outlet can ever get it 100% right because, as the title implies, it’s basically an unthinkable task. What lists like the one MTV put out last week do is to spark debate, and to an even greater degree, controversy. Doing so drives traffic to their site, just like if XXL or The Source were to do it, it would probably do the same for them or get them to sell more magazines. And to do that (and because of their business models), they tend to lean towards those emcees that have the most visibility in the mainstream. Truthfully, it would be great to see more diversity and not simply rely on the “Hot” label to continue seeing the same emcees profiled over and over and over again, but hey, that’s in a perfect world.