MVPs of 2011

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    MVPs of 2011
    The past 12 months in hip-hop saw the rise of several upstarts making the leap from fridge player to breakout star, including Big Sean, J.Cole and Kendrick Lamar, among others. While those guys may have had their day on <em>106 & Park</em> this year, the vets proved they still also run this rap shit. Jay-Z and Kanye West releasing music as The Throne, Rick Ross and his signing spree, and Lil Wayne and his Young Money army (better yet a navy?) ruled. Here, <em>XXL</em> separates the pretenders from the contenders, both old and new, and name the MVPs of 2011.—<em>XXL Staff</em>
  • BustaRhymesMVP
    Busta Rhymes
    Busa Buss was definitely back on his bullshit in 2011. The veteran MC wasn’t as ubiquitous as he’s been in years past, ceding the collaboration crown to Nicki Minaj. But he had a powerful impact (Boom! From the cannon) just the same. The voracious rapper contributed one of the greatest verses of his career to Chris Brown’s “Look At Me Now”—he earned two Grammy nominations and scored the highest Hot 100 chart position of his career for anchoring the track—where Busta’s hundred-miles-an-hour flow perfectly punctuated the Diplo and Afrojack-produced number. Hot 97 jock Angie Martinez was among one of the many that paid homage to the former LONS member by covering his verse and uploading the YouTube clip. Coincidentally, Bus then made noise more recently when he inked a new (and recording contract with YouTube’s parent company, Google, and Cash Money Records last month. Look at him now.
  • DrakeMVP
    Drizzy started the year off still riding high off of the success of last year’s <em>Thank Me Later</em>, where he delivered on the potential he showcased on his breakout mixtape, <em>So Far Gone</em>. His next project, an R&B mixtape, was shelved indefinitely, but, in its place he only gave fans the biggest record of the summer as a holdover, with “I’m on One.” The DJ Khaled single was powered by Drake’s shit-talking chorus and brazen rhymes, which may or may not have ruffled some (royal) feathers. By the time his sophomore set, <em>Take Care</em>, arrived last month, Drake was back to ruling the radio (“Headlines,” “Make Me Proud,” “The Motto,” and “Take Care” are all currently residing on the Hot 100 chart) and his first-week sales of 631,000 bested all rap challengers with the exception of only Lil Wayne’s <em>CIV</em> first-week haul over summer. The throne may just be his for the taking.
  • EminemMVP
    Eminem marshalled (get it?) in a new era of Shady Records this spring with the signings of Slaughterhouse and Yelawolf. (He also reeled in MTV’s Sway to host the morning show on his Shade 45 outlet.) As an executive, Mr. Mathers oversaw projects this year by Bad Meets Evil and Yelawolf, but perhaps his greatest contribution over the past 12 months was as the ringleader of the Shady 2.0 cypher during the 2011 BET Hip Hop Awards. Em proved his bars were still as hard as penitentiary steel and continues to be an ambassador for the culture by pushing wordplay to the masses. Lyrical miracle, spiritual criminal.
  • JayZMVP
    Hov spent the majority of this year ushering in the <em>Watch the Throne</em> project, serving as the spokesman during an intimate listening session held earlier this year at Manhattan’s Mercer Hotel. The skilled wordsmith navigated the terrain for the collaborative effort, as thematically the project, which many, including this outlet, praised as the hip-hop album of the year, challenged listens through its lyrical emphasis on upward mobility, cultural influence and financial freedoms. Without a proper single, the album debuted at No. 1 and the parties involved managed to successfully release the set without it leaking online. In addition to <em>WTT</em>, Jay also launched the career of his latest protege, J. Cole, whose debut, <em>Cole World: The Sideline Story</em>, premiered at No. 1 on <em>Billboard’s</em> album chart. Lift off.
  • KanyeWestMVP
    Kanye West
    Yeezy finished 2010 by earning a bevy of accolades for his solo album, <em>My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy</em>, earning album of the year kudos across the board, from mainstream rags to urban publications. The Chicago-bred MC, however, quickly switched gears and instead of promoting the album throughout 2011, he instead got to work with Jay-Z on the <em>Watch the Throne</em> project. ‘Ye oversaw the brilliant production of the LP and, on the other side of the recording booth, his biting rhymes helped to rejuvenate Jay-Z. While Mr. West has remained mute for most of the year in terms of press, he still made headlines, from his fashion choices (leather kilts!) to his business acumen (Big Sean’s breakout success). That shit cray!
  • LilWayneMVP
    Lil Wayne
    Wayne’s world continued to be excellent. The Young Money shot caller could have made this list just off the strength of his executive decisions, namely Drake and Nicki Minaj running this rap shit. But, he more than held his own as the superstar’s fourth installment of <em>Tha Carter</em> series—despite receiving mixed reviews—had the biggest opening week in hip-hop this year, moving 964, 000 units in its first seven days of release. “6 Foot 7 Foot” proved Wayne still could rhyme with the best of them and “How to Love” crossed the YMCMB member over to a new audience. He also continued to chip away at Jay-Z’s throne, this time via “It’s Good.” Cash Money’s the company and Weezy’s still the boss.
  • NickiMinajMVP
    Nicki Minaj
    She may receive third billing in her set, but Nicki Minaj is a bigger deal than most crews's top dog. After her debut was outsold by Kanye West’s <em>My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy</em> late last year, the Boss Barb continued to work her project, <em>Pink Friday</em>, and eventually outpaced ‘Ye’s LP. As of press time, the album has sold 1.6 million copies. The Queens femcee supported her brothers in arms, first on tour with Lil Wayne, and then riding shotgun (and upstaging) Drizzy during his appearance on <em>SNL</em>; her own <em>SNL</em> debuted at the top of the year was also well received. The <em>Pink Friday</em> star ended the year with an impressive accolade: her single “Super Bass,” available on the deluxe edition of her debut, recently topped <em>Entertainment Weekly’s</em> list of best singles of 2011. The female Weezy, indeed.
  • RickRossMVP
    Rick Ross
    Rozay caused a ripple this year, pulling out the Warner Bros. checkbook to get his George Steinbrenner on, inking Meek Mill and Wale (and later Stalley) to deals, while sliding Pill over on his roster, to launch Maybach Music Group. The new collective quickly put the pressure on other groups through the release of <em>Self Made, Vol. 1</em>. The project was announced and released shortly after, spawning the breakout hits, “I'ma Boss,” “Tupac Back” and “That Way.” The heavyweight MC prepped the release of his next solo effort, <em>God Forgives, I Don’t</em> via twin singles “I Love My Bitches” and “You the Boss” before a health scare slowed him down. One of the very few things that put the Boss on the bench this year. Hunngh!
  • TylertheCreatorMVP
    Tyler, the Creator
    Powered by the release of his video for “Yonkers” and a spirited performance on <em>Late Night With Jimmy Fallon</em>, Tyler, the Creator made a cannon ball-like splash this year, bringing his rowdy Odd Future stable with him. The Los Angeles rapper failed to ignite the charts with his label debut, <em>Goblin</em>, but he was omnipresent in 2011, thanks to an award tour (he won best new artist hardware at the MTV VMAs and the Sucker Free Awards) and his active Twitter account. Toss in his boardroom dealings (launching Odd Future Records, inking a deal with Adult Swim) and it’s clear the skateboarding rapper is coasting to the top of the game. Swag!
  • WizKhalifaMVP
    Wiz Khalifa
    The Pittsburgh lyricist scored his breakout hit, “Black and Yellow,” last year, but Wiz followed up with his album, <em>Rolling Papers</em>, which debuted at No. 1 on the a<em>Billboard</em> 200 album chart, with more heat. "Roll Up" landed in the Top 15 on the Hot 100 and “No Sleep” slipped into the Top 10. Add in his touring success (by himself and with Snoop Dogg) and relationship with Amber Rose and it’s easy to see why the laid back star was a constant source of blog chatter. The Taylor Gang leader more than held his own after eschewing overtures from Rick Ross (to join MMG) and Drake (opening for him) to position himself next to those stars rather than behind them ([II]). Smoking.

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    where is GAME??? his RED ALBUM proved that he is here to stay…COMEBACK OF THE YEAR IF YOU ASK ME…were talking classic, timeless tracks, RICKY, THE CITY, HEAVY ARTILERY..come on..guess you have to be a true hiphop head to appreciate RED…

    • Short Y

      Damn Right R.E.D. Album Was A Classic Every Song On That Album Was Tight. Martians Vs. Goblins, The City, Ricky, Drug Test, Mamma Knows, Pot of Gold, Red Nation, Good Girls Go Bad, Speakers On Blast, Hello, All The Way Gone. His Mixtape Hood Morning (No Typeo) Was Way Better Then The Carter 4. Enough Said.

      • jimyyjam

        such dickrider. red tanked critically and commecially. classic my arse wasnt even as good as lax. getting murdered by every guest appearnace while siultaniously jacking there styles counts as classics. hmm.

        • THA TRUTH

          @jimyyjam..let me school u…I been listening to hiphop since 87, the Year u were born…Game sold over 500k for red album worldwide, that generates over 12 million dollars for the record label (interscope)..the total investment for red was 2 million, meaning the label made 10 million of this project so far, which is why he never got dropped, also, it was very impressive cause he never had any real radio or video singles..he has sold more than 80% of the rappers in 2011..hes had two succesful tours so far, in the U.S and europe, GAME stay winning, and haters keep hating, he here to stay homie, four albums deep now, hate it or love it…

          • ShamingIdiots

            No, let me school you Truth. This is rap music we’re talking about. MVP was judged on sales yes but truthfully, Game can’t rap for shit anymore. R.E.D. was crap and an example of Jimmy’s point would be “Martians vs Goblins”. Game tried too hard to jack Tyler, The Creator’s style and while the song aimed to portray the same themes, Game never really stood out and quite frankly was disgusting to be even named a rapper. Rappers exceed when they do something original and unique, hence Tyler, The Creator’s success, hence Mac Miller’s success .etc. So quite frankly Game was shit.

          • Honcho2cold

            bruh he sold 99 thousand he didnt even make it pass a hundred and the game has the best comeback beacuse sincerly the rap game was treating him like a step son for a while but he came back and jack flows ur kinda right give u that but besides game is game gotta love him for him

      • Avatar

        get off game’s nuts nigga

    • hopsin

      that’s because he isn’t down with the illuminati

  • m8X

    Where’s Tech N9ne? Snoopy? Royce Da 5’9? YelaWolf? 40 Water? These guys all killed the game this year, and Wiz, Wayne, Minaj & Officer Ricky take their places? Dwamn.

    • j-man

      dam,what a weak ass list & you cant even vote? ill give it to tyler just cuz noone else on the list did shit

  • Haymaka

    Lmao at Khalifa being considered a lyricist

    • G-VON

      LMAO word i was thinking the same thing. the nigga blows.

      • youngc

        No pun intended.

  • steven

    Wayne chipped away at Jay with “I’m Good”?? Baby kissed which editor on the lips for that sentence? His line at Jay was one of the weakest comeback disses ever! Kidnap Beyonce vs. “Baby money”. Fiction vs. Fact. Lil’ Wayne vs. Jay-Z. Give me a break.

  • Alexander Place

    J Cole, J Cole, J Cole… nuf said. J Cole is the future of hip hop and his album speaks to dreamin big and making it big– the success and evil temptations that come with it. He should be on this list because he makes Good Music. XXL, that’s wackkk. U put on a bunch of rapper’s that have no conscious lyrics. WACK

  • Taylor Gang

    Not that i dont like wizzle man but he didnt get dat number one spot on billboard! he was number 2 to Britney! But Mac Miller did get dat number one and sold more than tyler, just saying

  • RapsNHustles

    Where’s Curren$y.? He got signed, then signed a lot of new talent to his on roster.. got them to put out a solid collabo(him included) project, plus he drooped 4 solid projects himself.. all XL rated material


      thats what im sayin. xxl never gives curren$y the recognition he deserves

  • Will Morebucks

    This shit was pretty lazy, all yall really did was name the niggas that win EVERY year and add two new niggas. Where’s Currensy? J Cole? Tech 9? Jay-Z didn’t make any more of a come-up than he usually makes.

  • Fireforreal

    R.E.D was a classic / it was a good album but more like a compilation. His Purp and Patron’ mixtape blew his album out the water.Why do rappers today have to share a song with 2 other rappers every song on there albums now,it’s almost like they only feel like writing one verse and just get lazy and rely on features. If R.E.D is a classic than the Documetary and Doctor’s advocate are DOUBLE CLASSICS or SUPER CLASSICS LOL

  • lolatthis

    5 names missing from this list : kenrick lamar, j cole, wale, big sean, currensy….

  • ss

    kendrick lamar
    j cole

  • D.Scott

    I agree with the MVP picks. There is a lot of new talent breaking through but they are not on their level just yet.

    • Anon

      half of this new talent blows ass. if you consider lil wayne, nicki minaj, wiz kalifa, or rick ross talent then you don’t know good hip hop. wayne can’t spit, sing, or play guitar. nicki has the worst voice. wiz can’t spit either. rick has horrible topic range. now if common, royce, game, yelawolf and other good rappers were up there instead then this would actually be a good list

  • matt

    please tell me why J.Cole isn’t on this list but Busta Rhymes is. J.Cole killed the game this year one of the few who sold over 500,000 records this year and had two top ten singles this year one of them certified gold. Big K.R.I.T. should be on this list as well, he got songs charted from his mixtape which is the mixtape of the year. Kendrick Lamar had a great run got his independent album in a nice chart position. Mac Miller had his debut independent album debut at number 1 he made history this year.

  • Phil

    Horrible list

  • Phurdrick

    The Source Magazine names Rick Ross ‘Man Of The Year’, and Big Sean ‘Rookie Of The Year’!! Which is complete Bullshit and why XXL is running this bitch!! Plus Rookie of the Year should be Kendrick Lamar, Man Of The Year should also be Busta Rhymes!! Both made a serious impacts this year! Okay, Rick Ross made major moves this year, I’ll give him that! But why so many sleeping on Kendrick Lamar. Lyrically he kills Wale, J. Cole, Big Sean, Drake and Tyler, The Creator put together, word! Real talk!! ~ Phurdrick

  • K$420

    where is Future? he’s the best out right now as far as I’m concerned. dirty sprite & streetz calling are my favorite mixtapes! show some real talent, & put Future on the cover too. :)

    • Cole

      Future ain’t that great. he is not an MVP.

  • BWS

    busta rhymes is boo boo he need to stop he jus an irrelavent rapper tryna collect money on CM shouldnt b on here GAME was beating shit up like anderson silva

  • Cole

    This list is whack as fuck. I haven’t heard shit about Eminem, Wiz Khalifa, or Busta since like June. Nicki And Wayne are whack as hell. You guys missed J. COLE! Wale, Kendrick Lamar, Curren$y, & Tech N9ne. Big Sean was killin’ it too.

  • sen29

    RICK ROSS / rookie of the year ACE HOOD MAYBACH MUSIC ran things im sure you haters got something to say but be honest with yourself ROSAY THE BIGGEST BOSS YOU EVER SAW the only dude that i know put cats on with hits WALE hot right now MIAMI BOSS south run this , fuck them faggots over at cash money dudes kissing wearing ladies clothes UGH !

  • tony montana

    j cole anyone

  • xxliswack

    how is this not the biggest mainstream bullshit ever? couldnt come up with real rappers? pathetic. cant read this shit.

  • Daze

    Where’s Tech N9ne!!!???

  • Justin

    Yelawolf and Childish Gambino. Where are they? Eminem sucked this year.


    Where Earl Sweatshirt at?

  • Sabrina Schaefer

    nützliche Inhalte und atemberaubenden Design du hier! Ich m?chte Ihnen für die gemeinsame Nutzung Ihrer L?sungen und die Zeit nehmen, in dem was du ver?ffentlichen bedanken! Sublime Arbeit!


    That young nigga tyler is gettin’ nominated for everything . its kinda funny actually .

  • Amphi43

    Tyler’s garbage wayne didn’t do shit and there are way better rappers out right now such as Tech N9ne who released TWO albums this year and every song was killer J. Cole and Big Sean are twenty times better than Tyler’s week ass and when will hopsin be recognized he ripped Tyler a new asshole in 16 bars #Illmindofhopsin4 I’m justsasying you guys are slacking badly I mean eminem signed 5 of the rawest rappers ever slaughterhouse and yelawolf

  • Anthony R.

    Wheres Jcole ? Wale ?

  • Chris

    Busta rhymes? because of a single?
    lil wayne’s album was awfull

    wheres game, j. cole. kendrick?

  • mr.RED

    J. Cole??

  • ALiasMUsic

    Literally none of these faggots were any good… What about

    Kendrick Lamar
    The Roots
    Big K.R.I.T.
    Childish Gambino

    This mag just lost all credibility to me.

  • eLL. & Stone

    eh, there’s so much better hip hop out tho :/ jus check out The Hip Hop Speakeasy. They do a great job of puttin all the good hip hop out out there

  • awill

    Kendrick Lamar should be on here…

  • SwaggX360

    Fuck wayne and wiz ppl are on their dick to much, they both say the same thing in every song….tyler deserved it tho but my list go like this yall…. Hopsin,Jayz,Kanye

  • Remillla

    To not have Kendrick Lamar on here is a shame.

  • alex

    mvps of 2011 are
    Tech N9ne,Kendrick Lamar,The Game,Jay Rock,J.Cole,Eminem,Royce Da 5’9,Curren$y,Hopsin,Dizzy Wright,Apathy,Yelawolf,a lot of u ment hate but drake,Common, and The Roots

  • ColeKrit&KendrickFan

    why the hell isn’t Kendrick here? This was HIS year, Section.80 is a fucking classic. and cole? Just the Any Given Sundays was better than all of wiz shit. Cole World!

  • Kronikz

    Looking forward to that day Hopsin is going in for MVP – instead of the 2 scums like Tyler & Wayne.
    Really miss good poets like Big L & Pun.
    But Poesi rap is soon back FV2012 !!

  • ricky c

    wow, mac miller goes number 1 independantly selling over 150,000 records. j.cole evived hip hop and u put lil wayne on the chart?the carter 4 was a waste everybody needs to stop listening for a popular name and just listen to some real, and good music. this is why were all gunna be dead in 2012.this disaster

  • Yo?

    Where dat Yela woof? That dogg spit crazy rhymes. Metal Face.

  • Adrian

    Ok I’m looking at this and besides Kanye West and Eminem…
    All I see is Entertainers… I understand why they would be the MVP’s of the year, but really, we need some lyrical people to get the attention that these people get…
    Kendrick Lamar, J Cole, and Big Sean may have just got into the game but they have done a much better job this year than ANYONE on this list!!