Everyone loves a comeback story, and in 2010, that’s what they got from Eminem. Even though Marshall Mathers sold 608,000 copies of 2009′s Relapse in its first week, the project was panned by critics and longtime Em fans. They said he rhymed in too many weird voices, that the production sounded dated and that the subject matter was too grim. The LP didn’t make enough of an impact, and there really wasn’t much buzz around Eminem to even warrant him making the Hottest MCs list last year.
Em got back in the swing of things this year, first by ripping the all-star posse cut “Forever,” which, despite being released in September 2009, had enough momentum to keep playing all the way into 2010. Then he guested on the Lil Wayne single “Drop the World,” a highly anticipated duet between the two rappers that had been buzzed about for years; added a poignant verse to the remix of B.o.B’s “Airplanes”; and even dropped a couple of freestyles (on Drake’s “Over” beat and Lloyd Banks’ “Beamer, Benz or Bentley”).
It all led up to the release of the first single from Recovery, “Not Afraid.” The song was a turn of form for Em that found him spitting motivational rhymes and encouraging people to face their fears, for better or worse. In a post-recession America, it felt like a message people really needed to hear: Don’t give up, because we’re all in this together. “Not Afraid” hit #1 on the Hot 100 and pushed Recovery to 741,000 units sold its first week. Em followed that with “Love the Way You Lie,” which was poignantly assisted by Rihanna.
Eventually, after initially voting to keep Jay-Z at #1, because of Eminem’s momentous year, the roundtable pushed Em to the top.
Here is the full list of MTV’s Hottest MCs in the Game:
3. Kanye West
5. Rick Ross
6. Nicki Minaj
7. Lil Wayne
8. Waka Flocka Flame