Friday, October 24, 2008

The Cipher: Bittersweet

In its short three years of existence, the "Cipher" series has gained quite a bit of recognition as the solely reserved non-industry segment on the BET Hip Hop Awards. On the surface that's all quite apparent. While it's sad that grouping legitimate emcees in a celebration of the true foundation of rap is relegated to a few two minute segments yearly, I'm obviously happier that BET puts them together rather than not. And all praise for DJ Premier scratching every year.

BET Cipher Series - feat. Everybody

But I still feel I'm watching an eerily sold out product even though I enjoy every single addition to the series. It seems that BET makes this the annual equivalent of "Saturday sinners, Sunday morning at the feet of the father." (c) Talib Kweli

It's like the producers are trying to make up for all of the garbage they flood the masses with every single day by putting together a cut that'll have all the hip hop heads celebrating. Here are a few reasons why I so strongly get that vibe in elaboration after I've just got done bobbing my head and cheering.

1. Rappers are prominently featured that BET could absolutely not care any less about.
There was a big debacle that I remember awhile back about a Little Brother video being blacklisted from the station because their video was, infamously quoted, "too intelligent." Fans were in a big ole uproar over it, especially since The Minstrel Show was just such a monstrously dope album altogether. But when the next year came around, Phonte got a lead spot in a cipher. A more recent and even quicker-responding example is Q-Tip, whose video was also disgustingly quoted as being ... "different" as a reason for why it wasn't on online polls to be put on 106 & Park. And guess who gets a closing cipher appearance before his album even drops?

2. Nothing wrong with international rappers, but interlingual?
There's just something about a rapper spitting in Japanese while the dudes around her "ooh" and "uh" as if they're hanging on every punchline. For me personally, it's hard enough to pay attention to Dizzee Rascal's heavy accentuation, much less the aforementioned Hime or the French Flo or K'naan slipping into Somalian. Unless Fuse TV is on the brink of buying out BET, these artists have no chance of ever getting another two milliseconds on the station. And I'm serious, Willy Northpole was sweating Hime's tanka usage.

3. Hurricane Chris got a spot in there ...
Yeah. I know everybody's waiting for next year's Rakim-Lady Sovereign-Soulja Boy spit down.

Now I just gotta say it again, I absolutely love these cipher segments! But you know when something seems a little too good to be true and you just know the motives behind it are in no way honorable? I can't complain about the final aired product, though. I'll suffer through an I-don't-know-why-everybody's-bigging-upping-him Ace Hood verse if it means there's gonna be a Lupe, Rhymefest, or Jadakiss to come correct afterwards. Maybe if BET replaced Rap City with some form of a Cipher show that actually showcased real talent on a regular basis then I'd shut my mouth and actually enjoy the thing.

They say the game got the belly of a beast ... (c) Lupe Fiasco

... and so concludes another masterpiece

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