Last night’s (October 11) pre-taped airing of the BET Hip-Hop Awards 2011 was accented by what has become a growing tradition at the gathering of rap music’s elite in the Cypher segments that air throughout the program. Over the course of the program, rap’s biggest names were placed alongside up and comers to display their skills with legendary producer DJ Premier holding down the wheels of steel.
In the first cypher of the night, Atlanta MC B.o.B., Kansas City native Tech N9ne, Mississippi spitter Big K.R.I.T., Compton’s own Kendrick Lamar and new kid on the block Cleveland’s Machine Gun Kelly all traded bars while Primo manned the decks.
After B.o.B. introduced the rhyme slingers alongside him, Big K.R.I.T. launched into a timely verse with a light jab at reality television and went on to display his southern pride. Tech N9ne followed with his signature rapid-fire and energetic flow, signifying why Tech is one of the most respected live performers in the game today. Bad Boy Records rookie Machine Gun Kelly stood out with his lanky shirtless frame, using a clever simile invoking Kurt Cobain’s name and infamous Nirvana track “Smells Like Teen Spirit.” MGK may have actually stolen the segment with his ending line of the freestyle with roaring audience approval.
Top Dawg Entertainment standout rapper Kendrick Lamar took off next and while he started off slow and subdued, K-Dot showed why he is one of Hip Hop’s more promising young rhymers as he warmed up and stuck a great landing at the end of his verse at Kim Kardashian’s expense. B.o.B. played anchor in the cypher and even managed throw shots at critics who feel that the Grand Hustle artist has compromised his former underground mixtape roots with an aggressive and effortless verse.
Shady Records wasn’t the only label to represent as a team as Rick Ross and his Maybach Music Group cohorts took turns in blazing the BET Cypher. Opening up was Wale who employed his D.C. area accent to great effect. Atlanta’s Pill jumped into the circle next and showed his down south flair with ease. The heavily bearded Stalley got busy for the midwest but Philadelphia MC Meek Mill may have displayed the strongest set of bars among his MMG brethren as the audience welcomed his lines with cheers. The Bawse Rick Ross anchored their portion of the Cypher, shouting out his crew during his capable verse.
Although Chris Brown has been toying around with the bars of late with his Boy In Detention mixtape and his smash hit “Look At Me Now,” nobody would have known that the Virginia native had the bars in his stash to compete with Young Money rapper and collaborator Tyga, Florida’s Ace Hood and “Deuces” cohort Kevin McCall. After Ace Hood and K-Mac drop confident bars, Breezy’s “Snapbacks Back” collaborator went for self but the star of the cypher may very well have been Brown who torched his lines with ease and took a few swipes at the media.
Virginia rap veteran Skillz anchored the cypher that featured former Death Row stalwart and fellow Virginia native Lady Of Rage, west coast rising star Dom Kennedy and the handicapped but potent bars of Blind Fury. Skillz, a longtime battle rap and freestyle enthusiast, used humor and timely news bits to beef up his verse and ended it out in a bold fashion by declaring himself the best MC of the entire cypher roster.