Despite being behind bars, Tune nabs the #7 spot on the list which apparently has thrown Lupe Fiasco into ranting mode on Twitter over the list. We all know the truth though, if he were on the list this year – he’d be eating two and a half plates of humble pie. Tune on the other hand deserves his spot on the list by not letting being behind bars derail that unmatchable work ethic he has. Not to mention a castaway product like I Am Not A Human Being becoming the #1 album in the country.

Lil Wayne had a helluva 2010, and just think: He wasn’t even around for most of it. The New Orleans MC has been on Rikers Island since March, serving time on a weapons charge that dates back to 2007. But before he went in, the Cash Money rapper adopted a work ethic reminiscent of Tupac Shakur.

To wit, he released the compilation album We Are Young Money in late December ’09, two full-length solo LPs — Rebirth, which debuted at #2 on the Billboard albums chart and has since gone gold, and I Am Not A Human Being, which sold 110,000 copies in its first week of release in September — more than a handful of videos and a couple of notable collaborations. A mainstay on the Hottest MCs list, his time away precipitated a fall of five slots from last year’s #2 ranking, but MTV News’ Hip-Hop Brain Trust still voted Lil Wayne the #7 Hottest MC of 2010.

“I think he did not necessarily plan the jail portion of his career at this point,” MTV’s RapFix blog editor Hillary Crosley said during this year’s roundtable discussion. “But I think he certainly prepared for it … so that he was able to just keep it coming.”

Perhaps Wayne’s biggest accomplishment of the past year was finally seeing his protégés, Nicki Minaj and Drake, become bona fide stars. Aubrey Graham was right behind Wayne on last year’s list, coming in at #3. This year, Drake released his first full-length LP, Thank Me Later, which debuted at #1 on the Billboard albums chart. Wayne and Drizzy were practically joined at the hip on radio, mixtapes, bumping from car stereos or at the club. Among the tracks that scored heavy rotation were “Forever,” “Money to Blow,” “Bedrock” (also featuring Nicki Minaj) and “Miss Me,” to name a few,

Nicki popped up on Wayne’s single “Knockout” and he traded the favor on “I Gets Crazy,” but she also proved her solo prowess, landing a #1 record all by herself with “Your Love,” as she rides Titanic-size buzz ahead of her debut, Pink Friday.

“[Wayne] going away, it felt like it didn’t really hurt,” said Sean Lee, MTV News’ supervising producer.

MTV News senior writer Jayson Rodriguez agreed: “He has this impact by the people that he’s introduced. And they’ve helped carry him while he’s not even here right now.”

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