Interested in seeing a mad rapper? Look no further than those who responded to MTV’s eighth annual "Hottest MCs" rankings, released last week.
Ironically, those who made the list were the most pissed off by it. Kanye West even called Hot 97 to complain, then publicize how he gave MTV anchor Sway his first television set. This latter fact is irrelevant, as should be these rankings. It’s a sad day for hip-hop when a list published by MTV (a company that didn’t even have a rap-centered program until 1988) gets MCs so hot and bothered.
For posterity’s sake, here are the official rankings:
1. Kendrick Lamar
2 Chainz and Big Sean were the only two who vocally expressed appreciation for being included. The former tweeted that he’d "[always] wanted to be mentioned on that list," while Sean tweeted that "#6 hottest mc is awesome." But from others, the love was less forthcoming:
Drake: "I made Forbes list, n*gga f*ck your list, everything’s looking gorgeous."
A$AP Rocky: "It’s frustrating when I’m #8. Don’t put me at all. I need to be #1, I’ma come clean."
Photo Credit: Flickr
Predictably, top-ranked Kendrick Lamar gave his seal of approval, arguing that the list is "very important for hip-hop ... When people feel like they need to make their comments, I feel that's needed, you know. You're supposed to feel like you're the best 'cause if you don't, you gon' get stepped on 'cause it's a jungle out there."
(Translation: "F*ck y’all, I won!!!")
Lamar goes on to explain how the list’s existence foregrounds hip-hop’s competitive nature: "I love that they have debates like that. We need that ... It's still competitive and I'm trying to compete with everybody to be the best."
He’s right, of course. The medium’s inherent competitiveness is its lifeblood, from street corner battle raps to regional feuds and album sales. It’s also what makes these MCs so quick to give their two cents: to be considered the best, one must be visibly recognized as such. The MTV list, like the Grammys, has a high profile, so it’s only logical that it would be the target of such heated debate and vitriol.
But let’s put it in perspective: MTV was late to the party from the beginning. Yo! MTV Raps, the network’s first hip-hop show, didn’t debut until August 1988, almost ten years after the first rap single. Sure, MTV grants hip-hop more "crossover" access than other forums due to its broad viewership, but if I’m truly concerned about being considered the hottest rapper in the game, I’m looking at outlets that had hip-hop’s back from the start.
So get mad at an XXL list. Get mad at a Vibe list. Get twisted up about lists from Okayplayer or Ego Trip. But MTV?
It looks like some rappers need to re-evaluate their priorities. To many hip-hop fans, these complaints are a bad look.