From Eminem’s 2017 anti-Trump freestyle to Kendrick Lamar’s 2013 Drake diss, the cyphers are always the highlight of the BET Hip-Hop Awards. And this year was no exception. While lacking the star power of past years, this year’s lineup included notable names like Vic Mensa, G Herbo, and BlocBoy JB, as well as rising MCs like Phora and Shawn Smith.
The ladies also showed out, with an all-female freestyle including Bri Steves, Sharaya J, Neelam Hakeem, and Chika, plus Erykah Badu, who played DJ and spit some bars.
But it was Vic Mensa who had everyone talking with his thinly-veiled XXXTentacion diss, which occurred during his cypher with G Herbo, Taylor Bennett, and Nick Grant. “Only time you bear arms is in a wifebeater, loser / Your favorite rapper’s a domestic abuser,” rapped Mensa, referencing the late XXXTentacion’s alleged abuse. “I don’t respect ni**as posthumously / Homicide ain’t new to me.”
XXX’s mother Cleopatra Bernard was in the audience when the cypher first aired, which didn’t sit well with many in attendance. Mensa later took to social media to address his controversial comments.
“I had no idea a grieving mother would be in the audience to honor her lost son,” he said. “I never intended to disrespect her and I offer my deepest condolences for her loss at the hands of gun violence.”
But he didn’t back down from his original comments. “I vehemently reject the trend in hip-hop of championing abusers and I will not hold my tongue about it,” he continued. “I don’t give a fuck about getting attention. I care about bringing awareness and holding people accountable for their actions.”