One of the best new additions to the Soul Train Awards is undoubtedly the Soul Cypher. These posse cuts feature some of the hottest R&B singers in the game coming together to perform verses and freestyle together — all while actually singing the music and not rapping it. With a live band behind them, these cyphers are beautiful extensions of the R&B culture that the world celebrates and loves so much.
The focus of today’s reflection into the history of the Soul Train Awards is the 2018 Soul Cypher that featured BJ The Chicago Kid, Queen Naija, Luke James, and Kelly Price. Their spectacular collective performance has amassed more than three million views in the time since — proving that music fans everywhere just can’t get enough.
Check out five reasons that the Soul Cypher was the highlight of the night at the 2018 Soul Train Awards below.
The Soul Cypher is a legendary new edition to the Soul Train Awards, and it’s only right that a legend would preside over the event. Erykah Badu controlled the mood of the 2018 rendition with class and poise, giving each of the involved singers space to flex their voices after she kicked things off.
BJ The Chicago Kid has worked with everyone from Rick Ross to Rapsody. He finds the bass in his voice next to the mikiness, creating a bone-chilling timbre that artists have long-salivated over. That voice was the star of the 2018 Soul Cypher and he provided a calling card for artists to reference for years to come.
Queen Naija threw daggers into the hearts of her exes with “Karma,” which explores how what goes around comes around in the game of love. She performed its accusatory first verse in the 2018 Soul Cypher and added some powerful voice runs to let fans know that her talent is heaven sent.
With Robert Glasper on the piano, Luke James performed to the backdrop of the majestic instrument, singing a freestyle of epic proportions. Having the ability to come off the top of the head with not only vocals, but melodies as well, made his turn instantly memorable.
Kelly Price came right after Luke James with a tale of a broken friendship. With her booming voice that could break glass with its powerful beauty, she crafted a narrative that Luke James joined in on with some mesmerizing adlibs. The crowd loved the two singers’ interplay and connectivity as they helped to seal the moment in a beautiful closing set.
(Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images for BET)