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Bawse. Even the Corrections Officer stuff couldn’t hold Ricky back. Now that leaves speculation over the Final 4. I’m assuming Jay, Em & Kanye are all in there but it’s a toss-up between Wayne and Drake (of course).

One put out a highly acclaimed mixtape and took over the feature game and the other is riding the coattails of his 2008 release and is just releasing features. Prom Queen ain’t what that is…

Why He’s Hot: How did Rick Ross make it to the Hottest MC List’s top 5 in back-to-back years? Because this top-tier word assassin released what seven of Roundtable members consider the preeminent hip-hop release of the year, Deeper Than Rap.

Deeper ceaselessly and seamlessly did its job, entertaining throughout with Ross’ lithe lyrical delivery, which forms a mesmeric marriage with soulfully melodic tracks that play like the score to an Oscar-winning film.

“Magnificent” mixed Ross’ sophisticated thuggin’ with John Legend’s Grammy-winning starpower and vocal luster to make for one of the most heavily spun hits this year. The striking “Mafia Music” was strong enough to ignite a musical and Internet war with G-Unit. While “Maybach Music 2” — featuring T-Pain, Kanye West, and Lil’ Wayne — was one of the preeminent posse cuts of the year. Despite all the controversy surrounding his past as a corrections officer, most of rap’s elite not only kept their embrace of Ross, but they worked with him on mixtapes as well as on his LP. The fans, for the most part, didn’t seem to care either. Deeper Than Rap sold more than 150,000 copies in its first week of release. Although those numbers didn’t quite match the quality of the work, the album did top the Billboard albums chart — a feat all three of Ross’ albums have accomplished.

Deeper’s campaign showed why Ross became a hustler’s poster child a few years back. The M.I.Yayo Mayor took to the Internet with no less than nine self-produced and self-financed videos to keep his album running, and to introduce mixtape material with his crew, the Triple C’s, and other artists from his Maybach Music Group label. Ross has continued to leverage the Web to keep his relevancy up, with vlogs and behind-the-scenes footage from his videos. Ross and company continue to keep their Jordans in the streets with the recent release of the double-CD mixtape Maybach Music 2: White Sand.Ross did all this in the face of some tough obstacles: His attempted cover-up of his past employment as a prison guard was brought to light, and Ross later confirmed it. He was mocked by some fans and in a very public battle with 50 Cent. Through it all, the always-confident Rick Ross kept his own smile wide, showing that phenomenal music can swashbuckle through scandal. The fans as well as his peers rallied behind him. 2009 could have played out so much differently for the Big Bawse from Miami but in the end, he got to smile wide and often.

Co-Signer: Rakim. “He’s trying to bring the skills back to the table,” legendary MC Rakim told MTV News. “A lot of people don’t give a lot of down-South rappers credit for spitting. He’s one of those brothers that’s trying to bring lyrics back to the table, and he’s doing it. He’s bringing the Miami flavor. I think he’s expressing what he’s living in Miami and what everybody else is doing down there.”

READ: MTV’s #5 Hottest MC In The Game: Rick Ross | #6: Gucci Mane | #7: Young Jeezy | #8: Fabolous | #9: 50 Cent | #10: Raekwon