Best Underrated, Overachieving Rapper - 2010
He's not so much known for pop megahits ("Lean Back," though), tabloid-supermodel paramours, or Greatest Emcee of All Time countdowns, but Bronx bulldog Fat Joe perseveres. He's a blunt, snarling, volatile, defiantly workmanlike rapper who has held it down for far longer than you've been paying attention—which is your fault, not his. A prominent NYC rap critic recently compiled a homemade, two-disc (!) "Meanest Fat Joe Shit" set that spanned from 1989's "Oh Shit" to 2010's "(Ha Ha) Slow Down," off his moody, menacing new album, The Darkside, Vol. 1. (The threat of a second volume tells you all you need to know about his thoughts on retirement.) His live shows, too, have lately turned into spirited requiems for mid-'90s NYC rap dominance, full of tributes to all those MCs who didn't make it and surprise cameos from everyone who did, who survived, who is thriving still. That's one list, at least, he's still near the top of.