Ranking Raps: The Top Ten BET Award Cypher Verses


The best thing about this year’s BET Awards (and, for that matter, every year’s BET Awards) were the interstitial cypher videos featuring some of the best, brightest, newest and most forgotten (Lady of Rage!) names in hip-hop.

We processed and parsed the 32 verses, spread out over seven clips, and came up with this ranking of the top ten performances. Following the list is a little commentary from our authors as well as the rest of the videos (you can watch the Rick Ross-starring Maybach Music cypher, above).

1. Eminem
2. Royce Da 5’9
3. Big K.R.I.T.
4. B.o.B.
5. Busta Rhymes
6. 2 Chainz
7. Pill
8. Yelawolf
9. Kendrick Lamar
10. Reek Da Villain

Chris: Well Rem, we could have been here all day and night, deliberating, like 12 Angry Men (minus ten of those dudes). But instead we reached across the aisle and found consensus fairly easily. Mitch McConnell needs to get at us. I guess consensus is easy to find when there’s such an obvious top dog to agree on. In regards to these cypher videos and these performances, there is Eminem and then there is everyone else.

I have always appreciated Marshall while never really loving him. But God almighty, this verse. There are anchor legs and then there are Jason-Lezak-2008-Olympics anchor legs. Em Lezaked this thing.

My next favorite and our consensus number two, Royce Da 5’9 (also from Em’s Shady Records stable clip) might actually have the best line of the entire enterprise: “Hi, Rihanna.” It was so good, Rihanna responded.

Shouts to K.R.I.T. for rapping like Big Boi and Andre3000 at the same time, Reek Da Villain for taking a potshot at Lebron James’ mother and 2 Chainz for rapping while embedded in the beat and shouting out “Free Boosie/wipe me down.”

I anxiously await your passionate soliloquy about Busta Rhymes’ Nuyorican-Cafe-nostalgia performance.

Rembert: I was going to keep this between me and you, Chris, but I have to call myself out for my transgression. I initially put Chris Brown in my top 10. I don’t know what came over me, but I wanted to admit this now, before it comes back to haunt me when I’m the Junior Senator of Georgia in 25 years.

Okay, on to the cyphers.

The big story for me with these cyphers is that it’s essentially a coming-out party for White rapper pride. I love it. For most of rap history, being White and rapping was sort of that thing you hoped people eventually stopped paying attention to. Fast-forward to present day and you’ve got this interchange:

Eminem: “White Dog”
Yelawolf: “Thank You, Cracker”
Eminem: “Get ‘Em”

I like this. I like this a lot. You should too.

As for Royce, if you say Eminem “Lezaked” the cypher, I’ll say Royce “JJ Baread” the entire awards show with his Rihanna bit. He even managed to make Joe Budden crack a smile through his awkwardly well-manicured mustache/beard situation. Others:

K.R.I.T.: Phenomenal
Kendrick: Fantastic
2 Chainz: Your thick drawl suggests you’ve never left the Southside of Atlanta, and I respect that about you.
Reek Da Villain: Nice to meet you.
B.O.B.: Way to stand up for your boy T.I. Martha Stewart disses will always be super hip-hop.
Pill: Thank you for saving Maybach Music Group.

And then there’s Busta. While I admit including Chris Brown in my initial top 10 was ignorant, you initially leaving off Busta is one of the ruder things imaginable. You actually had the nerve to write down “Reek Da Villain” but not “Busta Rhymes”? Wowza.

Anyway, Busta killed it. He has the elder statesman rap game down to a science (LL, take notes. Lengthy notes.). He talks about how rapping is fun now, how rappers can call him “cat daddy” (because he’s the boss), and how he has so many rings on his fingers, a satisfactory nickname would be “Ringling Brothers.” In 2011, Busta Rhymes officially became the fun uncle funcle of rap.

That’s all I have to say. Overall, I’m surprised we only had a few hiccups, but that’s in most part due to the fact nothing else really matters outside of Marshall’s Lezakian performance.

Eminem, Yelawolf, and Slaughterhouse (including Royce)

Big K.R.I.T., Tech N9ne, Machine Gun Kelly, Kendrick Lamar, and B.o.B

Reek Da Villian, 2 Chainz, Busta Rhymes, and Ludacris

Filed Under: 2 Chainz, Eminem, Hip Hop-Ology, Kendrick Lamar, Rick Ross