BET Hip Hop Cyphers Roundup: Who represented best?

As is always the case with these semi-commercial dream line-ups, there are a handful of rappers you wouldn’t want to hear in your worst nightmares, but generally the teams play it pretty well. Whilst I haven’t got time to take you through every cypher performance at this year’s BET Hip Hop Awads, here are all the videos with a brief summary of my thoughts. Of course there are a few rappers here who divide opinion – so don’t hesitate to let me know if I’ve got it wrong in the C-section below.

The Raw Cypher

Line-up: JayBird the Purdi Boi (Sprite Hot 16 Winner), Hopsin, ScHoolboy Q, Mac Miller, Mystikal

Best line: Hopsin,”Truth is, you can’t touch me, like Pac’s hologram”

Worst line: JayBird the Crazy One, “We gone play the blue waffle game, drink some water with some AIDS mix”. Dude…

Best performance: ScHoolboy  mentions Kendrick too much, so Mystikal, for being Mystikal

Worst performance: Hopsin impersonates an Eminem impersonation, which is strange, but JayBird the Sprite Mascot still takes this

Overall rating: 6/10

The True School Cypher

Line-up: Jean Grae, Sarkodie, Ab Soul, Talib Kweli

Best line: Talib Kweli, “I’m graceful as Jordan with the fade-away, rite of passage as painful as circumcision by razor blade”; although, to all appearances, these two clauses are completely unrelated. The second clause is also really quite nasty, but it was about time that someone who wasn’t named after a bird understood the Cyphers are meant to be nasty

Worst line: Ab-Soul, “I was playing the background like ad libs  but now I’m greedy like a fat kid”. If you’re gonna pull out a cheap-shot and laugh at fat kids, at least make it funny

Best performance: Talib Kweli, although his word-count is probably by far the highest; Jean Grae for punchline-per-word ratio

Worst performance: Sarkodie’s rhymes are bizarre but I kind of like that; Ab Soul should do better; the Cyphers are like the early rounds of the F.A. Cup, any giant can be knocked out

Overall rating: 6.5/10

The Iron Mic Cypher

Line-up: RZA, Angel Haze, Joey Badass, Driicky Graham (who?), Childish Gambino, A$AP Rocky

Best line: Angel Haze, “Listen up, I’m tired of you lames, I’m getting hungry and you’re looking like entire food chains”

Worst line: A$AP Rocky, “Got a chick red like radish”- I want to like this but it’s a bit A$AP Sloppy

Best performance: A$AP Rocky on points; Angel Haze on knock-out(s); Childish Gambino on Master of Ceremonies skills (although not necessarily emceeing in the rap sense)

Worst performance: Driicky Graham moves his arms more than the dinosaur from Toy Story but Joey Badass, for all his talent, just doesn’t sound right here

Overall: 7/10

The West Coast Cypher

Line-up: Xzibit, YG, Kurupt, E-40, DJ Quik, Kendrick Lamar

Best line: E-40, “I ain’t rapping too fast you just listening too slow” or Xzibit, “I own assault weapons that fold out like Megatron” (points for referencing a Michael Bay film); Kendrick says something like “I live inside the belly of the critic (?), Snoop passed us the torch, I’ma burn you rappers with it”, which is clever and all but I prefer the Megatron reference

Worst line: YG says something about “hanging like beehives”

Best performance: E-40, one of the most criminally underrated rappers OF ALL TIME

Worst performance: YG; other than the fact that he’s from the West Coast I don’t know why he’s here; Jennifer Aniston’s from LA and I don’t see her trying to rap in a Cypher

Overall rating: 9/10

The Grand Hustle Cypher

Line-up: Trae Tha Truth, Chip(munk), Iggy Azalea, B.o.B, T.I.

Best line: Chipmunk, “Al Qaeda, I’ma blow up in the States”

Worst line: Iggy Azalea’s got a few, and on second reflection, Chipmunk, “Al Qaeda, I’ma blow up in the States”

Best performance: Trae Tha Truth, or maybe T.I.

Worst performance: Iggy Azalea 

Overall rating: 6/10, and only because Chipmunk made me laugh

The Ruff Ryderz Cypher

Best line: Cassidy, “Disconnect your head from your body, now you’re looking like the lower case letter I” ties with Murda Mook, “They shouldn’t let your records play/they shouldn’t let you in the booth…on election day” (topical bar scores extra points)

Worst line: Cassidy, “The rhymes I spit could keep your grass fertilized.” Errr, thanks?

Best performance: I could listen to DMX all day long, but Murda Mook for actual rapping here

Worst performance: Eve‘s sounded better, but then they all have

Overall rating: 7/10, because it still put a smile on my face

 Overall winner: The West Coast Cypher – but then you could have guessed that by just looking at the line-up

See you again next year!