By Rob Markman
At its core, hip-hop is a competitive sport. Hit records are nice, but the greatest MCs are often defined by their wordplay.
Judging from fan reaction across Twitter, the highlight of Tuesday's 2011 BET Hip Hop Awards were the nine different rhyme cipher segments, which showcased a total of 41 MCs all vying for rap supremacy. Busta Rhymes, Ludacris, B.o.B, Machine Gun Kelly, Rick Ross' Maybach Music Group and Eminem and his Shady 2.0 crew all contributed lethal bars to the program.
According to Slaughterhouse member Joe Budden, it was Marshall who reigned supreme in his round of rhyming. "We wasn't chumped, though," Budden told MTV News on the show's black carpet.
Yelawolf set it off with a tongue-twisting verse, while DJ Premier spun the instrumental from the East Flatbush Project's 1996 classic "Tried by 12." Joey threw the gauntlet next, with lines referencing some of rap's elite, including Jay-Z, Kanye West and Lil Wayne. "I'm grown, I'm not watching the throne, I'm sabotaging it," he spit before dropping, "Enough raps from you scrub cats about cocking the snub back/ Wayne couldn't teach me how to love that."
When asked to contemplate Shady's place among other rap crews, Crooked I pounded his chest and nominated Slaughterhouse for the highest honor. "Right now, we're the best f---in' rap group, straight up," he said.
"Best rap group in the universe," Budden chimed in. "We thinking about us and what we're doin'. We enjoy what everybody else is doin', but our focus is us, and in our minds, we're the best rap group."
After last night's performance, Slaughterhouse certainly made a case. With his verse, Royce Da 5'9" expressed his appreciation for pop star Rihanna, and after the cipher aired, "Hi Rihanna" became a trending topic on Twitter. Still, the segment's main draw was Eminem, who stacked rhyme triplets atop each other in vivid and witty ways. Taking poetic license, Em described his rollout plans for both Slaughterhouse and Yelawolf's upcoming album releases, spitting: "You're about to see peace destroyed, it'll never be restored/ When I unleash these beastly hoards on your CD stores/ Wanna stop it? You will need a priest, at least three swords/ A license to ill from the Beastie Boys, three Ouija Boards and a squeegee/ And please be warned, don't ask what the squeegees for/ Or the holy water, acid raps that'll eat these floors."
And it all sounds delightful.