Since Min Soo already gave his list of the top 10 mc's in the game, I figured I should probably voice my opinion on the matter. (I was in wales this weekend, which is why my response is tardy (not to name drop that I am in a foreign country or anything). Anyways, my list is based on a combination of talent and buzz I guess you could say. Therefore, rappers who are popular may not necessarily make the list. So without further ado, here it is:
10. J. Cole
The one thing I can say about J Cole is that the man has passion. That is the biggest thing which separates him from many other mc's. One of my favorite songs of his is "Show Me Something." This is what first got me interested into J Cole. The violin laced track exudes a melancholy story of a man asking God to show him his way in life, and about growing up on the streets. While this story seems familiar, Cole makes it seem genuinely real, especially in the chorus, even saying "I'm a man so I cannot let these tears fall," exposing himself to the listener. Cole's two mixtapes The Come Up and The Warm Up, continue with in the strong effort of "Show Me Something." Signed to Jay-Z's Roc Nation label, it appears as though more good things are to come.
Oh man. Drizzy Drake. What a huge year. So Far Gone was arguably the biggest record of the year, even though it was only a free mixtape up until a few weeks ago. "Best I Ever Had" is probably the biggest track of the year. Drake was signed to Weezy's Young Money Label, and was featured on the biggest posse-cut of the year (and maybe ever). But underneath all of this hype, Drake is a pretty talented rapper. His flow is pretty good, and his lyrics are also above-par. The track "The Winner" serves to highlight Drake's skills away from the more highlighted So Far Gone. Here Drake describes his rise to prominence, sighting the hardships, and showing how far he has come (though going from Degrassi to rap royalty isn't exactly a rags to riches story) . Anyways, Drake does have some good lines in this song, as well as many others. So once you wade your way through the hype and fifteen year old girls signing Best I Ever Had, Drake proves that he is, in fact, worthy.
8. Kanye West
I'm really happy for you and I'mma let you finish but....Yes the commotion caused by the "Taylor Swift" incident and rumors of re-hab have brought out the Kanye haters in full force. Also the fact that he has not dropped a real "rap" album in a while make his inclusion on this list a little questionable. But the simple fact remains, although he hasnt been rapping much (yea a pretty unremarkable verse on "Forever"), Ye is one of the best in the game. When he produces a track, you know it is going to be fire. While Kanye's rapping skills may not quite be on pair with the likes of his colleagues, his choice of samples and production quality are second to non. There is more to rapping than just being able to link sentences together with rhymes. Kanye is the complete package.
7. Kid Cudi
Cudder doest not really fit into the typical mc mold. His slow, emotional style comes off as being more sung than rapped. His surreal and spacey beats are starkly different from the trunk rattling bass which has become synonymous with mainstream hip-hop these days. However, this is what makes Cudi so great. His debut album Man on the Moon: The End of Days, is one of the best albums I've heard in a long time. Cudi's melancholy lyrics and distinctive voice weave a tapestry of sound which pulls the listener in. Before putting out MotM, Cudder released a myriad of mixtapes, which prompted the popularity of "Day N' Night." However one of my favorite Cudi songs is "She Came Along." This song samples Patsie Cline's "Strange," which seems like an odd choice. However, the sample works perfectly with Cudi's flow and voice. It's really good. See for yourself:
6. Royce da 5'9''
One fourth of the Slaughterhouse, but in my opinion, the best. Royce seems to always deliver no matter what track he is on. Where he shines is in the delivery and lyrics. Royce possesses a more hardened flow than the likes of J Cole and Kid Cudi. His delivery is rapid, confronting the listener with a bombardment of metaphors and one-liners. The track "Gun Harmonizing" displays Royce's lyrical talent. Here he scats and takes gun sounds and molds them into the chorus.
The man just won't go away. And for that we are truly thankful. While personally The Blueprint 3, didn't live up to (my very high, and possibly unreasonable) expectations, it was still a solid album non-the-less. While it lacked the swagger and boisterous I'm-the-best attitude of The Blueprint and The Black Album, (and why would it I guess; Jigga has already proven he is the in a truly elite category) the BP3 did showcase the new, more diversified Jay. With guests such as Rihanna, Ye, and Drake, as well as Alicia Keys, Jigga showed that he is able to adapt to the new music scene, while still being successful. And whether, or not this is Jay's last album, he certainly has proven, beyond all doubt, that he is one of the best.
4. Wiz Khalifa
The Ojo (Min-Soo, Mike, whatever he's going by these days) and I have been absolutely loving everything Wiz has been putting out lately. His Flight School mixtape is one of the best I've heard, since maybe The Drought 3. Wiz comes from the little heralded (at least in the rap circuit) city of Pittsburgh. He gained some notoriety with his song "Say Yeah" which samples Alice Deejay's timeless eurodance song "Better Off Alone" (which I could write an 4 page ode to by itself). However, Wiz encountered some issues with his label, and eventually dropped them. However, he still managed to put out FS, which is amazing. Wiz showcases his diversity on the tape, using a variety of beats, and even everyone's favorite voice synthesizer, auto-tune. But everything he does works remarkably well, creating an excellent blend of unique beats, unreal flow, and great rhymes. Hopefully Wiz puts out an album too.
3. Lil Wayne
Yea, I know. It's Lil Wayne again. You can't escape him. It seems like the man doesn't sleep (and from what I've read, this might be true). It seems like he's always on tour, or featured on a track, or putting out another mixtape. While he didn't put out an album this year, Weezy has not relinquished is influence on the rap game as a whole. His verse on "Forever" was typical weezy: a seemingly unrelated string of lyrical wordplay, but it still works. Remarkably well in fact. Now, I don't happen to like Wayne's foray into "rock" music, with the auto-tuned trash of "Hot Revolver" and "Prom Queen." However, despite these issues, Wayne continues to shine. Wayne's verses as a guest, while at times sub-par for him, would be the best verse of some rapper's lives. In the end, Wayne can spit. Period.
From the bowels of the early 21st century (I can't believe I'm saying that already), and spawned from the likes of Only Built 4 Cuban Linx and Supreme Clientele, Raekwon has once again reared his head, ready to make his mark on the game once again. Despite not releasing a studio album since 2000's Supreme Clientele Raekwon has certainly not lost any of his ability from the Wu-Tang days. Only Built 4 Cuban Linx, Pt 2 has already established itself as one of the best albums of the year, and one of the best all time. From the beginning it is obvious the Chef has cooked up something special. Raekwon comes at you hard, with the lyrical precision of a laser guided missile. There are too many songs on the album to highlight, as the entire thing shows to prove Raekwon's talent and ability. The Chef, in essence, is hip-hop at it's core. He is gritty, real, and devoid of the gimmicky effects which plague mainstream hip-hop. I think the first song (Return of the Northstar) off OB4CL2, exemplifies this best: Raek is the Northstar, an established, guiding light for others to follow.
Ok, so I know Relapse was kind of a let down. Ok I know it was a big let down. But you can't let that stand in the way. Em's prior work alone could justify his placement on this list. However perverted, psychotic, and just plain messed up Em's lyrics are, there is no denying the wealth of talent he has. His flow and lyrical combination are unmatched. It sounds as if he is constantly trying to attack the listener with an assault of brilliant metaphors and one-liners, a skill no doubt honed by years of battle-rappers. That brings us to another point. Em is real. He could give a shit what anybody else thinks. He will rap about anyone or anything. Take for example his diss track to Mariah Carey "The Warning." This is Em at his best. Em exposes himself, but at the same time utterly tears apart Mariah and Nick Cannon (much like a real life Rabbit vs Papa Doc). I know Mike already highlighted this in his post, along with the download, but this song is certainly worth mentioning twice. So while Em's studio stuff was not up to his normal standard, "The Warning" proves he has lost nothing. Also check out his verse in "Forever." The best verse on the track BY FAR. And that's saying something, considering he had to outshine Drake, Kanye, AND Weezy to do it. In the end, Em's exclusion from MTV's list of Top 10 Hottest MC's in the game, is blasphemous. However, as usual, I'm sure Em could give a flying fuck. And that's why he's number one on my list.