Jay-Z Thanks MTV For Naming Him ‘Hottest MC,’ But Questions Eminem’s Absence — MTV Explains

By Allen Starbury  |  10/09/2009

EminemMTV unveiled their entire "Hot MCs in the Game" list for 2009 last week, causing a stir amongst the hip-hop community. While fans, industry folk, and even artists may agreed with some of the list -- like Jay-Z taking the crown -- others didn't like the fact that some artists were omitted from it.

One name in particular is Eminem, who failed to make this list this year, despite dropping one of the best-selling releases this year with his comeback album, Relapse.

50 Cent expressed his feelings toward the list when he was placed at #9, and Jay-Z even chimed in recently to plead a case for Eminem, saying that MTV did their list a "disservice" by not including him.

In a statement, Jay thanks the network for placing him atop the list, but also explained why he felt Em should be there as well.

"MTV, Thanx for this nod of appreciation," the rapper said in a statement. "Although I don't strive to be 'hot' for any particular year, I thank you for the acknowledgment. My whole goal is to be recognized as the best ever. I created the term 'best rapper alive' as a sign of respect to my fallen comrades (Biggie and Tupac). I believe I've allowed a significant grace period, and I believe I would not be respecting myself if being the absolute best was not my goal, and that's why I continue to push myself until exhaustion ... salute.

"Sidebar: Kanye moment if I may ... Eminem?!?! I think you do the credibility of this list a disservice if you don't thoroughly explain his omission. As of this second, he has the highest selling rap album of the year and a scene stealing verse on the best 'posse' cut of the year . (*Hands mic back to Taylor Swift ... and nobody was harmed, I apologize in advance.)"

Feeling the heat for Em's absense from the list, MTV posted a story on their site explaining that Eminem was left off the list because of his inactiveness during the summer (June to September) working on Relapse 2, whereas other rappers "generated week-to-week heat with mixtapes, guest appearances, performances and Web activity."

Here's MTV's explanation, written by their Hip-Hop Editor Shaheem Reid, below:

MTV News' Hottest MCs in the Game list was rolled out over the past week, and from the jump, one topic has garnered much of the attention.

First, we would like to thank all of you who logged on and got involved. You voted, left thousands of comments and engaged in the conversation with tremendous passion. We respect your opinions and appreciate your continued participation.

The Hottest MCs in the Game list is created entirely by the Hip-Hop Brain Trust, a group of 10 passionate, informed, opinionated people who rank, discuss and debate artists' heat in a precise moment. With this list, it's all about the now.

And right now, the most discussed topic is Eminem's absence from the Top 10. While he didn't qualify in previous years due to a lack of musical activity, he released Relapse, his first full album of new material in five years, in May. And Slim Shady's fans have told us that the omission of the legendary MC from the 2009 list was a major misstep.

So how was the list determined?

The 2009 Hottest MCs in the Game list is based on an MC's achievements of the moment, not an entire career. The criteria are based on a combination of mic skills, buzz, commercial success (sales and airplay), business ventures, Web presence, and impact.

Each member of the Brain Trust compiles his or her list based on those criteria. The fan list is factored as an 11th judge. Each ranked artist is then awarded a number (number 10 is worth one point, and so on). Those 11 lists and their respective values are combined to form a final list, which is then discussed and debated at the Roundtable.

Eminem's ranking was one of the most discussed topics at the Roundtable. His hotly anticipated return to hip-hop after a long absence drove first-week sales of over 600,000 — the highest first-week sales of the year so far. He granted a handful of select interviews here and abroad, and was part of a massive moment with Sacha Baron Cohen at the MTV Movie Awards.

But then Em retreated to the lab, where he spent the summer crafting Relapse 2. From June to September, Em all but took himself out of the public eye, while other MCs generated week-to-week heat with mixtapes, guest appearances, performances and Web activity.

He returned in September with comedic moments and a win at the VMAs, then dropped a verse on Drake's "Forever" (also featuring Kanye West and Lil Wayne). The song's move into heavy rotation came subsequent to our roundtable vote. In between, he kept his profile low.

Eminem is one of the best ever on the mic. His track record is undeniable. The Hottest list deals with right now, though. If the Brain Trust had compiled the Hottest list back in May, there's no doubt Eminem would have made the Top 10.

In the end, the Hottest MCs in the Game is representative of the opinion of the members of the Brain Trust. You have every right to disagree. That's what the Hottest MCs is all about: engaging in a thought-provoking, informed, fervent dialogue about hip-hop, the music and culture we all love.