BET is famous for a lot of things. 106 & Park, The Game, Let’s Stay Together, BET Now and of course the legendary BET Awards. With this particular award show comes potentially one of the most exciting events of the year: the cyphers. Every year at the BET Awards, during presentation and performance breaks, the soiree breaks to see Hip-Hop at its purest. Rappers from all different walks of life are assembled into different cypher groups to kick some rhymes over a boom-bap beat. For those of you who aren’t completely in these streets, a “cypher” by definition is a group of emcees in a group rapping one after another; and that’s exactly what happens. It is not only a great place for new rappers to show and prove but also a perfect platform for old heads to show they still got that fire. It’s also important for our culture because it brings us back to the basics. There hasn’t always been flashy videos and stadium-esque beats to express Hip-Hop culture, it used to only be out the DJ, the sample and the rapper. Nothing more, nothing less. The BET Awards cyphers remind us where Hip-Hop started and it hasn’t been forgotten.
BET kept things consistent this year with DJ Premier obviously on the ones and twos. Premo along with DJ Scratch were armed with a boom-bap brigade and trigger fingers itching to scratch rappers into the beat’s pocket. The difference this year however, was that it was broken into more cyphers than usual — 7 filmed and 1 live. Previous years had somewhere in the neighborhood of around 5 or 6. Lucky us.
Below we have a full breakdown of each and every cypher from the slickest flows to the wackest punchlines. Make sure to hit us up on Twitter and Facebook to let us know what you thought about this year’s BET Awards cyphers.
The Digital All-Star Cypher Part 1
This cypher was released before the actual airing of the show and was used more as a promo tool than anything else. Rappers included Emilio Rojas, Dreezy, Conceited, Retro Jace, Dillon Cooper and Andy Mineo. Although these are some pretty unfamiliar faces to the mainstream, the bars were strong. Each emcee came correct and didn’t fail to show their best. The hottest verse has to go to either battle rapper Conceited for lines like “I’m a spitter, rhyming with these bars/ I’m in a class of my own like retard.” It’s bars like those that can stop you right in your tracks. Second place has to go Andy Mineo who approached it more as an opportunity to address some Hip-Hop issues like misogyny and stereotyping. Strong rhymes overall.
Digital All-Star Cypher Part 2
This was the second part to the digital cypher releases and boy was it ever fire. Hosted by URL’s Smack, this cypher has mostly battle rappers. That being said, a trend that is unique to this year’s cyphers is the battle rapper presence. Battle rap has been a sub culture for years but with the momentum of leagues like URL, King of the Dot, Don’t Flop etc. we are starting to see these battle rap emcees make to the forefront of culture. This cypher included Rain 910, T-Rex, Tsu Surf and Goodz. You can immediately tell the difference between a battle rapper and a song making emcee because of both the delivery and the punchlines. The battle rappers, as seen above with Conceited, try their hardest to have the most potent one-two punches whereas other rappers focus a little more on flow. The hottest verse here goes to T-Rex who came out the gate swinging and showed his versatility on a beat contrary to a capella rap structure in battling.
Taylor Gang Cypher
This was probably the weakest cypher from this year. Don’t get it twisted, the cats over at Taylor Gang can make hits with the best of them but in terms of snapping off on a boom-bap beat, not so much. This one included leader Wiz Khalifa, Juicy J, Ty Dolla $ign, Chevy Woods, Tuki Carter and Berner. It was literally all over the place with no one able to find the pocket, Berner swagging around with an arm cast and Ty Dolla $ign practically humming his verse (if you can call it that). The hottest, if we had to pick, would go to either Juicy J or Wiz Khalifa. Neither of which was overly impressive but there were some pretty nice lines scattered in the mix like Wiz’s “said they want that old Wiz/ well this is old Wiz/ 27 with a kid handling grown biz.” Hi Amber!
Remy Ma, Papoose & Friends Cypher
This cypher was exactly what we needed. The recently released Remy Ma teamed up with longtime lover Papoose for one of BET’s most memorable cyphers. They combined their verses together in an almost poetic duet. They went bar for bar with each other almost as if they were rhyming together alone in their living room. Not only did they silence all the haters, they shouted out a multitude of famous male rappers/actors/athletes and their strong female counterparts as Remy said “beside every great man bae is a great women.” They summed it up with an adorable “secret” handshake that ended in them holding hands and walking away. If kicking a fire cypher with your significant other isn’t love, then we don’t know what is. But “black love” that wasn’t all this cypher had to offer. Canadian battler Charron dropped some battle bars as well as XXL Freshman Jaren Benton.
David Banner & Company Cypher
This cypher included David Banner, King Los, Treach, Snow Tha Product and Vic Mensa. The bars here were unrivaled as each spitter came to prove a point. Vic Mensa proved he has no problem ripping a boom-bap beat whereas David Banner cut the beat early to address the recent violence against young black males. It was almost as if he approached BET and begged them to put him in the cypher so he could get that off his chest. King Los brought the fire and Treach couldn’t help but switch over to his Jamaican accent for a few lines. The hottest verse however, goes to Snow Tha Product who left people dumbfounded. She crossed between scripture worthy english rhymes and rapid fire spanish haymakers so unbelievably dope that most viewers probably proceeded to download her discography.
Lil Mama, Dee-1 & More Cypher
Ever since Lil Mama jumped on stage with Alicia Keys and Jay-Z back in 2009 at the VMAs, her image has never recoveredt. She has been through all kinds of scrutiny and could really use a push back into the game’s good side. Luckily for her, she brought the bars out in this cypher. Teaming up with Dee-1, Troy Ave, Logic and Detroit Che, Lil Mama did good. Troy Ave came through with that classic New York style, Logic ripped through his verse with lightning speed but it was youngin’ Detroit Che that had the best verse. Rapping intricately about all kinds of subjects from being a woman in Hip-Hop to the police corruption in America to the current political landscape of her hometown. Be on the lookout.
The Never Tired Cypher
This cypher included potentially the most well rounded bunch of emcees this year. Kevin Gates, battle rap champion Loaded Lux, G-Eazy and O.T Genasis all got together to drop some rhymes. Everyone had a really tight verse especially G-Eazy who addressed some colour issues while at the same time hitting hard punches and metaphors. O.T Genasis fell through the cracks a little and Loaded Lux didn’t bring his top tier battle rap best however Kevin Gates stole the show. Giving line after line in that deep growl of a voice, people could have confused him for Shyne in his prime.
The Live Cypher
This was the cypher of all cyphers. New this year, the rhyme circle made it to the live stage with more battle rappers. Arsonal, Couture, Calicoe and Murda Mook all took turns going in over Drake‘s “0-100” instrumental. Each rapper came armed with their best bars and made it count. Arsonal addressed all the “mainstream” rappers in the crowd and told them to man up and jump in the battle scene. Calicoe took a more personal approach and rapped about making it this far and Couture got some jabs in as well. The hottest verse in this one though, went to Murda Mook. Firing shots at Drake and other industry cats, he proceed to go over his set time to air some things out. “It’s because of y’all that we here making this history.” he rapped accapella. If we can take one thing away from this cypher, it’s that the battle world and the mainstream world are colliding; ready or not.
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