The BET Hip-Hop Awards cyphers are now the last remaining reason to watch the show every year. You can't dilute the integrity of the cypher. It's tradition of the craft that forces the artist to put up or shut up. You cannot feign talent in this format. You can't turn it into a reality show or a half-hour long comedy -- it is the art and skill of rhyme, and you either have it or you don't. Across the internet, last night and this morning, you'll be hard pressed to find any hip0hop heads not talking about Kendrick Lamar and TDE's crushing performance. Check it out below, along with highlights from the others.
There's a cypher just like this every year, made up of artists who are perfectly good rappers, yet perfectly unexciting. BET throws in the token foreign rapper, and gets this stuff out of the way early. Everyone in this room really just needs some more time to cook, but there's redeemable talent there. The exception to that, being Jon Connor, who informally announces his recent signing to Aftermath Records. Something tells me that 2014 is going to be good to that guy.
What the hell is this shit, really? Between that stupid hook and the choreography, A$AP Mob is out here looking like a damn boyband. A$AP Twelvy, who is arguably the most lyrically talented of the crew, is the only one who brings a strong verse. For the most part, this is just really annoying and corny. I could have definitely gone without it.
Travis Scott. What an idiot. The Kanye cohort tweeted a forewarning yesterday that his verse was trash, and clearly he wasn't lying. Dude seriously looks like he's on molly here or something. As expected, Action Bronson brings the most impressive wordplay, but Lil Kim steals the show. Not only is her face starting to look like a real human person's again, she's actually spitting and she's still got that signature flow. Bow down, bitches.
I don't understand people who don't love Slaughterhouse, especially in this format. The Detroit crew has become a staple to these annual cyphers, and they always deliver. These are real emcees, from a time when rappers didn't talk about their exes in every song and had more content than big-face braggadocio. Joell Ortiz says it best, "You hear the bars that my squad holding/ BET thank us again for another hard moment."
Black Hippy really are the Beatles of rap music. From start to finish, the west-coast conglomerate serves the strongest outing of the night. Isaiah Rashad, who the collective signed last month, had quite the coming out party as he held his own next to some of the best lyrical storytellers of this generation. The real highlight of the entire evening would come with Kendrick Lamar's boastful and undeniable best verse of the night, including lines like, "I got my thumb on Hip Hop and my foot in the back of yo ass/ Aftermath get the last laugh." and "I say hold up,wait a minute/ your career ain't shit less you got some Kendrick in it.". Kendrick Lamar is John Lennon, and he know's he's more popular than Jesus.
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This is just goofy, and Nelly looks like Mother Theresa with that scarf on his head. But I think it's important to take be reminded how peerlessly good Nick Cannon is at blending comedy and hip-hop.