Once a year BET networks turns back the clock and strips the Instagram-filtered facade away from hip-hop and gives a coveted slot to the bare bones building blocks of the art form: beats and rhymes. The BET Cypher at the Hip-Hop Awards was introduced in 2006 as an extension of the popular Rap City Basement Freestyles. While rhyme styles have evolved to emphasize melody and cadence over delivery of spartan metaphors and similes, there is still an appreciation for the pugilistic linguistics and the gladiators who wield speech as their hammer.
During the 2015 cyphers Redman, Keith Murray and Erick Sermon mashed out under the flag of Def Squad and raised eyebrows like Dwayne Johnson in his sideburns and Versace shirt days. Coming mere weeks after Murray took a surprising loss to Fredro Starr of Onyx in a highly publicized battle, the trio’s performance was as redemptive as it was cathartic, with many viewers declaring them the unofficial winners of the noncompetitive broadcast.
“It ain’t like Def Squad just jumped up on the Cypher and got nice, we been cookin,” Redman tells WatchLOUD.com. The verse he performed was from the song “Bars” on his new project Mudface. “We been rockin, y’all just forgot a little bit and the new audience just wasn’t up on it. I’m just glad we brought awareness to real MCin’ and showing how to kick bars and shit. It was a breath of fresh air.”
In our second “Verse Behavior” video Redman walks us through “Bars,” sharing stories of hanging with “Nas in ‘9-4,” his crush on LisaRaye, whether or not he thinks OJ Simpson did it, and why his era of the ’90s was the best.