King Los Kicks The Best Verse Of The Night In The Last Standing BET Cypher
Last night (October 8), BET broadcast the 2019 Hip Hop Awards. The event included a tribute to Lil’ Kim (featuring a Junior M.A.F.I.A. reunion of sorts), performances by Rapsody, YBN Cordae, Anderson .Paak, Chance The Rapper, Rick Ross, and a salute to Battle Rap. Notably, a TV event recognized for groundbreaking Rap cyphers that previously involved the likes of Eminem, Black Thought, Kendrick Lamar, Yasiin Bey, Slaughterhouse, and others had just one such grouping of MCs.
King Los teamed up with Kash Doll, IDK, Iman Shumpert, and Travis Thompson for 2019’s lone cypher. This time it was backed by DJ HED. The former Bad Boy Records artist showed his knack for substance and swagger together. The veteran freestyle sensation with several releases under his belt stood out. After Detroit’s Kash Doll, P.G. County’s Jay IDK, Seattle’s Travis Thompson, and Oak Park’s Iman, the Baltimore veteran shows why he’s been wearing the crown for years.
“We said, ‘Black Lives Matter, please let us be’ / Then they put on body-cams just to let us see / We said, ‘Loosen up the chains, master, set us free,’” Los opens, in a set that uses compound rhymes. Politically and racially charged, Los points out things in our society. His slick rhymes deal with police brutality, fast food phenomenons, and JAY-Z’s recent NFL partnership. “How we beg for reparations, disgracefully, disadvantaged / Wastin’, since there’s five million just chasin’ a chicken sandwich / Well, I ain’t come to ball or vent / You mad Kap’ took a knee? I’m glad Hov took an arm and a leg,” he says, before moving his blistering bars to religion. Pacing in a circle with the other cypher artists and addressing them as a peer, Los eventually finishes in a turbo tempo.
Notably, 2019’s sharp decline of cyphers marks an apparent end to a memorable television era for Hip-Hop fans. With DJ Premier famously behind the wheels of steel for years, these events created groupings that were exciting, curated pods of great MCs. The stage was a space for MCs on the rise to be knighted. It was also a platform for Hip-Hop’s living legends to show why they earned proud places in music history.
At the inaugural 2006 show, one of the cyphers featured Lupe Fiasco and Papoose alongside Styles P. The other assembly was Rhymefest, Remy Ma, Sway Dasafo, and Saigon, with DJ Scratch behind the decks.
Since ’06, the cyphers became an annual mainstay. Past highlights include 2009’s Em, Mos Def, and Black Thought together, 2011’s Kendrick, Big K.R.I.T., Tech N9ne, B.o.B., and MGK cypher, as well as label showcases for Shady, Top Dawg Entertainment, and G.O.O.D Music. These on-stage moments became benchmark moments for acts such as Slaughterhouse, Eminem (in a 2017 political lambaste), and a reunited Def Squad.
Although 2019 lacked the volume of these verses, Los reminded that lyricism still looks excellent on TV.
#BonusBeat: Earlier this year, King Los & Mark Battles released several singles, including “Go”: