BET Hip-Hop Awards 2014 Cyphers

On Tuesday night, October 14th, was the 2014 BET Hip-Hop Awards. This year the awards show was hosted by legendary emcee Snoop Dogg, or is it Snoop Lion still?  Hmmm, I don’t know. Anyways, the show is…uninspiring for the most part. It’ s still a fairly new awards show, so the kinks are still being dealt with. Personally, the one redeeming quality of the BET HIp-Hop Awards are the cyphers. Now, I know some of you are looking at me like, “what is a cypher?” Well pumpkin…allow me to explain.

A cypher is a basically a freestyle rap battle of sorts. Except, there’s not much battling. You have several emcees, a single beat, then they each take turns dropping bars over the beat. Now, there is a common misconception that “freestyle” equates to “off the top of the dome,” but it doesn’t. Freestyle simply means free of style. It can be improvised, it can be rehearsed, it can be previously recorded, etc. Just needs to be free of style.

At the BET Hip-Hop Awards they often have upcoming emcees on the cyphers sprinkled with legends and big-hitters in the game. Previous cyphers included upcoming emcees such as Nicki Minaj, Iggy Azalea, Kendrick Lamar and Wiz Khalifa. All have gone on to have international success. These cyphers have also included legends in the game such as; Snoop Dogg, KRS-One, Ice Cube,  Eminem, Lil Kim, Snoop Dogg, Kanye West and Rev Run among many others. So, basically, this is a pretty big deal.

Finally, with all the formalities out of the way let’s discuss the hits and misses of this years BET Hip-Hop Awards cyphers.

The Bad:

  1. Charron. The Canadian rapper. Sir, I’m so sorry, but those struggle bars are not cutting it. Time to go back to the drawing board. Great battle rapper, but when put on the spot on a national platform…he fell very flat.
  2. The entire Taylor Gang Cypher: Just….no. Please, don’t come back.

The Good:

  1. Detroit Che: This chick spits bars! Her flow? Nigh perfect. Her content, very timely. As the name suggests she hails from Detroit and she, in rapid secession, speaks about the troubles in detroit and government apathy. Then she goes into the string of black boys murdered by authority figures. Very well done.
  2. Snow the Product: While I couldn’t understand most of what she was saying, I enjoyed her bilingual freestyle. Her flow was on point, her delivery was perfect and the parts that I could understand was sound critique of her as a female emcee in a male dominated industry. Very well.
  3. Papoose and Remy Ma: Everyone knows this couple can spit. After her six-year bid in federal prison Remy Ma has hit the ground running these past few months. Interview after interview, mixtapes, records, etc. Her husband held her down for all those years and they showed that this year on their cypher. They rapped flawlessly in a conversational freestyle. Their point on black love had the crowd cheering. All hail Remy the Ruler.
  4. Logic: First things first, I want him. He’s so fine. Sorry, had to put that in there. Logic is a biracial man but looks almost indistinguishable from your ordinary white kid. His skin is white, his hair is straight and aside from his full lips, his facial features are white. But, don’t let that fool you! He bars are some of the realest I’ve heard in a long time. He attacks racial stereotypes, the media and politics. Which just adds to his attractiveness.
  5. David Banner: Last, but not least, we have my man David Banner. An OG in the game, Banner has taken a more cerebral turn in recent years. Trying to be a more conscious rapper. And he definitely delivered. There’s nothing more to say really, I’ll just leave you with his parting words.

“Where were the white rappers when they mowed Mike Brown…down! Nowhere to be found.”

However, don’t just take my words for it, conclude for yourself. Check out all the cyphers below.

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#FergusonOctober and a disturbing report on police homicide and race

Over the weekend, October 10-13, Ferguson October was in full affect. A weekend of protests, demonstrations and even concerts were scheduled, advocating change in police departments while remembering the life of slain teen Michael Brown. Headlined by many high profile thinkers, clergymen and even rappers, these events focused on racial disparity and discrimination and saw over 1000 people come out in full support. Some of the more awesomely shocking support came from people who traveled all the way from Palestine to show solidarity with their black counterparts in America.

Ferguson October comes perfectly, almsot as if planned, on the heels of a recent ProPublica 32-year analysis of police homicides as reported by the FBI’s Supplementary Homicide Report. In their analysis of the FBI’s Supplementary Homicide Reports ranging from 1980-2012, ProPublica solidifies the fear, apprehension and cynicism many black Americans feel towards police officials.  One of the more disturbing parts of the in-depth analysis was the finding that black boys were 21 times more likely than their white counterparts to be slain by police officers from 2010-2012, the three most recent years of available data. Yes, that wasn’t a typo. 21 TIMES more likely to be killed by police officers!

Of course, many of these officers I’m sure had justified reasons for killing some of these boys.  However, what was telling when reading the report was that after the 1985 Supreme Court decision which said deadly force can only be justified if the suspect posed a threat to the officer and others, almost immediately police homicides increased. Not only did the number of people killed by police increase, but the “officer under attack” defense increased as well. Before 1985, the “officer under attack” defense was used in  33 percent of the police homicides. Now looking at recent data from 2005-2009, note that all crime has drastically decreased over the decades, “officer under attack” was cited in 62 percent of police killings. I find this to be very telling.

While a said truth has been solidified by the reporters over at ProPublica, there always exist a silver-lining. These demonstrations in Ferguson, Missouri sought to rally against the seemingly sanctioned killing of  black people, men and boys most egregiously. The recent happenings in Ferguson has sparked a national debate and hopefully, this time, it bodes well. Hopefully, this time, we get actual reform. No more killing officers, these kids just want to live like everyone else