March 6, 2013

“The Motor City where motor mouths get impounded.” Danny Brown, The Hybrid, writing in papyrus, raised on hot dogs, no TLC in his life. No spot at the top of MTV’s Hottest MCs List. You know how that goes. MTV isn’t ranking the best rappers, it’s ranking the hottest. I suppose there’s a place for that, but there’s more flaws in their terminology than the rap career of Termanology (check!). Why use an outdated word like “MC” that’s obviously so weighted by historical implication. I’m not interested in semantic arguments over what an MC is, but that era is deader than Detox. Just call them “Hottest Rappers.” Or in the case of Drake and Future, hottest sangers who deign to rap between hooks.

My tastes have always gravitated towards those who “sacrificed nothing for the sake of contemporary tastes because contemporary tastes are what made my lip drop in the first place.” Word to Aesop Rock.  I’ve already made this rant once and inevitably, I’ll make it again. Hotness is ephemeral. From a journalistic standpoint, what’s “hot” is compelling. From a listener’s perspective, I want to listen to stuff that I’ll like in six months.  That’s not to say that there’s no room for popular rappers in the conversation. Rick Ross and Rocky made our list last year. Rappers that get on the radio change the short-term landscape. But there are plenty of underground dudes who have also “CHANGED THE GAME” over the course of time. I don’t need to write my influence of DOOM piece again. But MTV never offers a balance. It’s more a popularity contest than talent evaluation and they are human beings who would rank Big Sean over Future, A$AP, and Kanye, which is well, “Oh God.” That is like saying that saying Denny’s is one of the best restaurants. MTV is not to be trusted. You know that, I know that, all the rappers know that. But we persist on pretending that it does because the Internet is excellent at manufacturing false outrage and because it got Kanye to reveal the history of his appliance purchases.

Danny Brown might not be popping in Southern hoods like Kevin Gates or Future, but don’t dismiss his popularity. Maybe I’m biased because it was almost three years to this day when I gave him one of his first blog posts. Or maybe it’s that I know plenty of Echo Park white girls with bangs who want to twerk to XXX. But it’s 2013, hip-hop is no longer subject to the stupid streets/suburbs binaries that still consume these lists. Danny Brown has crossed over even if he never gets his radio song. He’s the biggest and best rapper from Detroit and you can tell me that’s crazy because b.b.b.Big Sean, but Sean might as well be from Chicago the way he has relied on Kanye and now Young “Guap” Chop” to prop up his career. I have also never a met a real Big Sean fan. Then again, I don’t go shopping for miniature denim jackets at the Levi’s Outlet in Barstow.

Rather than relying on 140 character bursts to explain why he is one of the greatest, the Adderall Admiral instead drops “#Hottest MC.” Take note, rappers. This is how you do it. If someone disses you, you demolish him through raps. Harry Fraud creating the psychedelic haze. The ghosts of The Notorious BIG, Big L and Treach haunting the proceeds. If he’s not better than Kendrick, he’s the closest one.