In the first cypher of the night, Polo G, Chika, Jack Harlow, Flawless Real Talk, and Rapsody joined musical forces at the 2020 BET Hip Hop Awards on Tuesday (October 27). It was already expected that the union was set to produce some evocative commentary with each rapper being highly-regarded lyricists of the next generation in their own right. And sure enough, their cypher delivered powerful commentary on the current state of America.
Chicago rap star Polo G was up first. In the opening verse of the cypher, the 21-year-old touched the history of oppression that Black people have faced, from lynchings and the racially-motivated war on drugs to the assassinations of Civil Rights leaders Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X.
“They really are the threat but that’s how they trying to portray me / When you spit the truth, they try to view as hate speech / Chi-town outspoken, hope they don’t try to ‘Ye me,” he rapped. “They quick to say you crazy when you wake up and question them / Like tell us if this virus is fake or what. Segregation, generation, we’ve had to take enough / Can’t wait for them to change / Gotta show that we got faith in us.”
Chika followed after Polo G and, in tandem with his verse, she paid homage to those who came before us in the long fight towards social justice.
“Now, we summon all the spirits of the Baldwins, the Malcoms and the Kings / Freedom ringing when we call them / People in the street, they tryin’ to vindicate the fallen / Tryin’ to find our way back / Reparations paid back / My money go to grieving’ mothers / I don’t need a Maybach,” she rapped. “My drive is dedicated to my people under attack / Been rapping about the same oppression back then / In hopes that every melanated person get the lay back. And we gon’ get it come hell or high water / Expecting peace a delusional tall order / ‘Cause we ain’t free until it apply to every man / We gon’ kneel until we finally get to stand.”
In his turn, Jack Harlow took aim at the state of Kentucky’s bungling of Breonna Taylor’s case, the coronavirus pandemic, the wave of Black Lives Matters protests, the Trump administration and more.
“Thinking about the future because I’m sick of the present tense,” he rapped. “$15,000 cash bond / Now we back in the streets with masks on / Kids from the ‘burbs ask pop and ask mom / That's how these old ideals get passed / Something gotta give when the pressure gets stacked on / Is you ‘bout action or is you just acting? / I ain’t gotta post donations / Rather just donate / But when I’m back home, I’m dropping the location.”
Rhythm + Flow star Flawless Real Talk locked in on the political landscape that has been marked by division in recent years.
“Added fuel to the fire, they ignited history is now / Is we gon’ be the ones to write it? / I look at both parties, I don’t know if we invited / Ironic how this country’s first name is United / I don’t think it ever was / Cities being overran / ‘Cause we’re sick of asking for change like a homeless man,” he rapped. “After Barack, I said I would never vote again / Hard to stand by waiting for the circus show to end.”
Flawless went on to touch on a number of political issues that have dominated headlines over the last few months such as police brutality, the rise in white supremacy, school shootings, and the Trump administration’s mishandling of the coronavirus pandemic. He concluded his verse with a call for people to hit the polls on November 3.