It’s that time of the year again: The BET Hip-Hop Awards are back, and with them, the highly-anticipated Cyphers. The Cyphers have been a highlight of the show for some years, with previous editions providing star-making moments for such talents as Boogie, Nicki Minaj, YBN Cordae, and more.
In 2017, 6lack, Belly, Cozz, Cyhi The Prynce, Denzel Curry, JID, Kodie Shane, Ski Mask The Slump God, and Tee Grizzley stood out, while in 2018, Chika, Duckwrth, Nick Grant, Reason, Tobe Nwigwe, and YBN Cordae impressed. And who could ever forget the standout 2017 Eminem freestyle that divided hip-hop fans for weeks after he drew a battle line in the sand?
This year’s group returns to lyrical form with some of rap’s hottest rising stars and some truly surprising names interspersed throughout the performances. After unequaled breakouts Megan The Stallion and DaBaby opened the show with a performance of their shared hit “Cash Sh*t” (as well as a solo performance of Megan’s “Hot Girl Summer”), the first cypher showcased the rap skills of Kash Doll, IDK, King Los, Travis Thompson, and NBA star Iman Shumpert, who received the loudest round of applause from the crowd.
After their performance, 2017 standout YBN Cordae returned to BET stage as a performer to rip through an upbeat rendition of “RNP” with Anderson .Paak, followed by Saweetie, who paid homage to her favorite era during a set of “My Type” by bringing out the producers of “Freek-A-Leek,” the original hit she sampled it from — Petey Pablo and Lil Jon.
Meanwhile, for the first time ever, BET is also hosting a live rap battle during the Awards, courtesy of the Ultimate Rap League.
There are more surprises sure to come; stay tuned.
Update: The second round of the Cypher turned out to have a twist: Each of the rappers were also comedians. Jess Hilarious kicked things off, followed by a back-and-forth stanza from Chico Bean and Karlous Miller, with a double-time flow from Affion Crockett afterward. The final verse was offered by show host and “Smile” rapper Lil Duval. Check it out below.