Yesterday, the BET Hip-Hop Awards aired, and as usual, the cyphers took center stage.
Grab a classic breakbeat—"The Big Beat," "Impeach The President," etc. Put a current hip-hop crew on top of it. Wait for fireworks. You'll usually end up with some quotables, a few rappers punching out of their weight class, and a few embarrassments worth making fun of.
This year, it was a fairly diverse group. The cyphers only take a small snapshot of the kinds of rap music being made right now—most of the South, give or take a Rittz cracker, is unrepresented—but they still manage to hit a wide range of artists. Sometimes it could feel like apples and oranges; how do you compare A$AP Mob's song to Slaughterhouse's focus on complex punchlines? (There's also a lot of humorlessness, for some reason, which was thankfully balanced by Kevin Hart's Real Husbands of Hollywood cypher.)
There also weren't many breakout moments; the newcomers were mostly solid and respectable (Rhapsody, Isaiah Rashad) but in most cases, the vets had a stronger year.
But there were some strong moments. Click through to check out our ranking of the 12 Best Verses from the BET Hip-Hop Award Cyphers.