MTV has finally released their ‘Hottest MCs of 2012‘ list as follows:
10) Meek Mill
8) A$AP Rocky
7) Kanye West
6) Big Sean
3) Rick Ross
2) 2 Chainz
1) Kendrick Lamar
As is expected, this list has sparked the responses of many MCs who either didn’t make the list, or were unhappy with their positions. A$AP Rocky was quick to cite all of the trends he set in 2012 in this video. Danny Brown responded to the omission of his name with this track. And Kanye West shared his feelings on this phone call (and we can assume he will discuss it in a rant in one of his upcoming shows). If this list was based on self-proclamations, there would be dozens of #1s.
What exactly it takes to be a ‘Hottest MC’ is not totally clear. Kendrick Lamar would be #1 by any criteria, and 2 Chainz seems like a pretty clear #2, but after that, it’s pretty arbitrary. Generally, the Brain Trust tries to identify “the most culturally relevant MCs of the year” and during their debates, they cite commercial performance, critical acclaim and cultural influence as support for their selections, but often it just seems that they subjectively chose whoever they liked best.
Take, for instance, the placement of A$AP Rocky ahead of Meek Mill. A$AP’s album, Long.Live.ASAP didn’t release until 2013, really giving him only ‘Goldie’ and ‘Fuckin’ Problems’ in 2012. Meek Mill on the other hand dropped Dreamchasers 2, which earned nearly 4 million downloads on DatPiff alone. Additionally he collaborated on Self-Made Volume 2 , which sold over 200,000 copies, and, by the way, he released his debut album, Dreams and Nightmares, selling over 300,000 copies. Not to mention, the cultural influence of Meek Mill is undeniable as his songs are bumped out of car stereo systems in nearly every urban area in the country. So why isn’t Meek rated higher? Who knows.
It’s also worth mentioning that Macklemore didn’t even come up in discussion. Macklemore is by no means the most talented or critically acclaimed artist, but as far as catching buzz in 2012? His numbers don’t lie. His single Thrift Shop is easily the most popular hip hop song of the year. It topped Billboard’s Hot 100 for four consecutive weeks (it was the only the second independently released song to reach #1 and the first in 20 years), and spent over 20 weeks on the list. Additionally, it topped US Hot Rap Songs for 6 weeks, and plenty of other lists all over the world. The song sold over 4 million copies, achieved over 140 million youtube views and has been the most popular song on Spotify for months.
As a whole his album The Heist has sold 420,000 copies (compare that to 2 Chainz 557,000 copies for Based on a T.R.U. Story) and his song ‘Wings’ was even used in promotion of the NBA’s all-star week (albeit in 2013). It’s pretty ridiculous that his name wasn’t even mentioned.
Anyway, it’s just an arbitrary list that has no impact whatsoever, so whatever. If you want to know the real hottest rappers in the game, check out the list we made earlier this year.