This list loses more respect year-by-year. If you’re not familiar, they pick the ‘top 10′ mainstream MCs based on ‘rhyme skill, flow, buzz, commercial success, business ventures, Web presence and cultural influence’.
Realistically, they don’t. Some extended thoughts on the list are available after the click, as well as a revised list using the line-up they picked. I’m not going to dare to go into who I think should be on the list, as we’ll be here all day…
The list according to MTV was as follows(from 1-10): Eminem, Jay-Z, Kanye West, Drake, Rick Ross, Nicki Minaj, Lil’ Wayne, Waka Flocka Flame, B.o.B and Ludacris.
So, let’s start at the bottom end, specifically #8. Waka Flocka is an utter idiot, cannot rap, and doesn’t possess ‘rhyme skill, flow, commercial success, business ventures, and cultural influence’: basically, the entire criteria. Why he’s on this list baffles me. He hasn’t had anywhere near the recent success of B.o.B or Luda (strings of top 10′s and chart-topping albums), and yet they get placed below him. If they absolutely had to pick a terrible rapper, Gucci Mane is far more deserving of a spot on this list than Waka.
Moving to #9, B.o.B should be in the top 5. He’s arguably had the two biggest hits this year with Nothin’ On You and Airplanes, and topped the charts with his very first album. He’s done this whilst keeping many of his mixtape fans satisfied. However, many do feel his rapping has suffered slightly at the expense of getting mainstream hits. I’m not sure he was ever a lyrical wizard, but I can maybe see the argument to an extent. At #10, Luda has had a solid year with another chart-topping album, although #10 is probably about right (if we were to ignore Waka) as it’s been a backwards step creatively.
Moving up to the Minaj/Wayne/Ross middle section, I think Ross is about right as he’s become a global name in 2010, extending his brand massively. Minaj is higher than she should be, as whilst she does have some great buzz, she doesn’t really have any of her own material to base any ranking on: all of her buzz is from features. Wayne should also be lower as he’s had a quiet year, except for the ill-fated Rebirth album, which in itself probably doesn’t count as a hip-hop album. However, he’s done more than Minaj from a solo perspective (a mixtape, an EP and contributing to the Young Money album), sold well, and has certainly proven himself from a business perspective by launching Drake and Minaj’s career. Fundamentally, he’s had a better year than Minaj.
Up to the top 4, Em definitely deserves the top spot. His comeback has succeeded on all fronts, both commercially and from a hip-hop perspective. However, the other 3 are contentious: Drake has had a better 12 months than Ye or Jay, even though I prefer them both as rappers. Ye has only been active since late May, and Jay’s activity slowed to a crawl after Christmas. It seems they’ve been given precedence on reputation, which sort of makes this list redundant if its supposed to be solely based on the last 12 months.
Only Em has surpassed Drake’s buzz on a regular, consistent basis and obviously outshines him as a rapper. Kanye and Jay are both significantly better rappers, but has Jay shown it? Not really, it felt like a backwards step from a lyrical perspective, and his flows became very repetitive. Has Kanye? Yes, but only for the last 4 months. However, in those 4 months he has created enough buzz to match anyone, and with regard to rhymes and flow, he has been on the kind of form that puts him second to only Eminem in this list in that particular aspect.
So, this is how I see it based on who they picked: