One of the most anticipated aspects of the annual BET Hip Hop Awards are the various cyphers featuring mainstream all-star rappers, bright up and coming and international emcees relaying 16 bars with the legendary DJ Premier manning the turntables. Let’s take a look at some of the highlight cyphers and see how everyone fared.
The Shady 2.0 Cypher (ft. Yelawolf, Slaughterhouse & Eminem)
Hands down, the best cypher of the whole series goes to Eminem’s new roster. The beat was switched to the often underrated instrumental of “Tried by 12″ by East Flatbush Project this time around. Yelawolf mercilessly attacks the beat with his unique southern twanged rapid fire delivery followed by a calm and collected Joe Budden spitting one of the most clever verses out of everyone with almost every line having witty wordplay. Long Beach, CA’s Crooked I gives the most aggressive output of the bunch that would make Big L proud. Joell Ortiz and Royce da 5’9 delivered the most comedic verses with funny punchlines such as “Skinny jeans don’t mean your ass shoot, it means your booty claps” and the assertion that Ortiz made the cut because he’s Puerto Rican, while Royce flirts with Rihanna and Jessica Alba all with serious bars dispersed in between. Slim Shady finishes the cypher with one of the best verses I’ve ever heard him spit since his return with Relapse.
The Indie Meets Mainstream Cypher (ft. Big KRIT, Tech N9ne, Machine Gun Kelly, Kendrick Lamar & B.O.B)
One of the most anticipated cypher line ups has some of the most unique styles coming out of the indie scene. The first 4 emcees came with different approaches to rapid fire delivery. KRIT, Tech N9ne & Kendrick Lamar all went for the throat, while new Bad Boy signee Machine Gun Kelly gave a rather lackluster and cringeworthy effort with an awkward claim as the “White boy that just bodied Black Entertainment Television.” B.O.B closed out with a comfortable verse drawing comparisons between his label boss T.I and Martha Stewart’s respective imprisonments. Best verse is a toss up between Kendrick Lamar and Big KRIT.
The Maybach Music Group Cypher (ft. Wale, Pill, Stalley, Meek Mill & Rick Ross)
Rick Ross’ Maybach Music Group label roster displayed a very impressive showcase of their various lyrical talents. Washington DC’s Wale spit a smooth 16 with slick lines such as “Them ‘bamas can’t see the bars. Ya’ll some paralegals.” and “Cover the building in green, my nigga Fred Segal.” (refers to the Los Angeles clothing boutique store Fred Segal which is covered in shrubbery). Atlanta’s Pill fires off a heavily lyrical verse with his trademark Southern twang that just rolls off the tongue effortlessly. Stalley and Meek Mill displayed the wide range of lyrical themes within the roster as Stalley went for a more conscious angled verse aimed at revolution while Meek Mill flossed the riches. Closing out the cypher is Rick Ross with his trademark “Ungh” and regally commanding presence, which was interesting to hear over 90′s golden era boom bap. Best verse is a toss up between Wale and Pill, in my opinion.
The International Flow Cypher (ft. Nitty Scott MC, Lecrae, Soprano & Estelle)
This is the most diverse cypher of the whole series featuring rising female emcee Nitty Scott MC, Grammy-nominated Christian Gospel rapper Lecrae, rapid staccato French emcee Soprano, and the United Kingdom’s own R&B/rap artist Estelle. Everybody brought a great variety of styles and did not let their supposed limitations hold them back from delivering great verses. Best verse goes to Nitty Scott MC, with Soprano’s extremely interesting verse as a close second.