Dead Prez Lead The Most Meaningful BET Cypher Ever. It’s Bigger Than Hip-Hop (Video)

Tonight, BET aired its annual Hip Hop Awards. The show honored Snoop Dogg as the recipient of the “I Am Hip-Hop Icon Award,” which was presented to him by Kendrick Lamar, and included performances by Gucci Mane, Travis $cott, Lil Uzi Vert, Young Thug, Young M.A., Quavo and more. Big K.R.I.T. also performed a moving a cappella verse addressing the state of the nation.

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As is the case every year, the show’s Cyphers were also heavily anticipated, and they included verses from State Property, Chris Rivers, Michael Bivens and Ronnie DeVoe, Nick Grant, Kevin Hart, Lil Wayne and more. Perhaps the most powerful performance of the night, however, came by way of a live cypher.

After a rousing introduction by Sway Calloway, who was the host of BET’s rap competition One Shot, and M-1 of Dead Prez took the stage, along with Locksmith and Oswin Benjamin. Though many may not be as familiar with Locksmith and Benjamin, they are some of the most ferocious and substantive spitters in the game right now, and fully held their own with the legendary Dead Prez.

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As stic and M-1 famously told the world in 2000, some things are bigger than Hip-Hop, and each of the MCs used the genre’s biggest televised platform to speak on some of the issues that fit that description. Benjamin kicked things off, flexing lines like “I promised my mama I wasn’t gonna curse on television, but f*ck Trump with a condom from the shelter system.” Locksmith followed with scorching words calling for self-accountability in the Black community. “But everything Black ain’t white, so take ownership. Conflict existed before we were on the ship. No justice, no peace, but what’s worse, the promethazine or the police?” M-1 (though he is labeled as Stic) follows, and Stic (labeled as M-1) closes with lines like “America eats the young like cannibal breakfast. Wall Street is swarming with Hannibal Lecters.”

While there have been politically-charged verses in Cyphers from years past, notably those of 2014 and 2015 by Rain 910, this is the first overall cypher to take on such heavy issues throughout, and it does not come a second too soon.