So here we are at the final showdown, ready to mash up all of our data into a master list and crown a winner.
With his dominant album sales, YouTube views and social-media scores, Eminem takes the title as the current King of Hip-Hop.
Unlike our Queen of Pop ranking, which Lady Gaga took in a walk, Marshall Mathers's win was somewhat closer – note the fairly tight point range among our top three.
If third-place Drake's commanding lead on the song charts had been even more dominant (which is hard to imagine), he could well have taken the title – a massive upset considering the brevity of his rap career. As it is, Drake's strong finish, more than 200 points above now-veteran Kanye West, is a testament to his current omnipresence. With his second album due later this year, he's got a shot at stealing the title by 2012.
Speaking of omnipresence, Lil Wayne takes second place through sheer work ethic, thanks to a constant stream of releases that even prison couldn't slow. His regular appearance in our runner-up slot – he made Number Two in albums, songs, the online rankings and awards – made him the runner-up overall, and his staggering live grosses almost put him over. If we'd done this survey just one year ago and included data from 2008, Weezy would have taken the title, without a doubt.
But again, timing is everything: Sure, if we'd done a similar three-year survey of rappers back in 2002 or 2005, Eminem would have won, probably. But as recently as three years ago, Eminem winning a survey like this was unthinkable; his nearly half-decade hiatus from recording made any comeback unlikely, let alone one in which he took back the charts as if he'd never left.
In the year to come, Drake is surely the performer to watch. But so are our fourth- and fifth-ranked contenders, who, in a Voltron-like act of power consolidation, may be about to lay waste to our top three. If Kanye's and Jay-Z's Watch the Throne is as big a release as expected – not just this week, but deep into the fall, followed by a world-beating tour – next year at this time those two friends and veterans may be yanking the crown off Slim Shady's head.
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