On a night dedicated to rap music, the highlight of the BET Hip Hop Awards 2020 was four R&B/soul singers. Read that sentence again. And not just any singers but Brandy, Erykah Badu, H.E.R. and Teyana Taylor who showed up not to sing but to spit hot fire for the final cypher of the night that put all the others to shame and clearly saved the best for last.
Dubbed the "Ladies First Cypher," the ladies took turns rocking the mic to Brandy's "I Wanna Be Down (Remix)" as the backing track. Whereas that song featured the lyrical talents of rappers MC Lyte, Yo-Yo and Queen Latifah, Bran and her multitalented crew of singers held it down with their impressive flows.
Badu, who is no stranger to an award's show cypher, channeled her DJ persona Lo Down Loretta Brown to kick things off behind the turntables. First on the mic was Teyana Taylor who kept it sassy, sexy and swaggy as she referenced everything from morning sex to OnlyFans to her post-partum snap-back. Next up was H.E.R. who spit a hot 16 that sounded like it came from a vet in the game and not a new kid on the block as she celebrated her Filipina heritage, her Black Girl Magic accomplishments and the memory of Breonna Taylor. Badu stepped from behind the decks to get next, and she snapped while talking big ish and backing it up. Last but certainly not least came Brandy who delivered a powerful and uplifting verse ending with the lyrics, "And if they say the sky is the limit, then buy a cloud / And if they can’t see us as an equal, they not allowed," and strategically placed a crown on her head before fading to black.
The only thing missing from this performance was a mic drop at the end. These queens earned it.