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The Hennessy Cypher has been one of the major support of the rap culture in Nigeria. Over the years, this major rap event has birthed new acts and exposed the rap audience to how much their faves have evolved.


For the 2020 cypher, there were 3 episodes, with 4 rappers in each one. We saw rappers such as the rap duo, SDCGhost and Tec -, Falz, and Indigenous rapper CDQ on the first episode. Payper Corleone, Barrylane, Vader the Wildcard and Phlow for the second episode. Which was more of a young blood category, compared to the other two episodes.

The third and last episode featured Vector, M.I Abaga, Jesse Jagz and Teeto Ceemos. This was the climax of the series; it featured two rappers (Vector and M.I) who had just squashed their beef, and the ‘been away from the booth in a while’ Jesse Jagz and Teeto Ceemos.


This year, the cypher followed the same structure, introducing new acts like Preacher Kingz, Legendary Styles, Alpha Ojini, Psycho YP, Matosan, Escore Gatti, Laud Reyes, while retaining older ones like the brand ambassadors – M.I, Vector, Barrylane, Ladipoe and Ycee.

The three episodes were released on consecutive 3 Tuesdays. The first two featured the new ballers and upcoming acts, while the third featured the top dawgs.


The Scale

Here are the 5 metrics I’ll be rating the verses with; Punchlines (Wordplay and Bars), Quotables, Theme, Rhyme schemes, and Delivery (Flow and Cadence). These metrics are each rated over 10 and their average equals the score of the verse.


The Verses

As with the cypher arrangement (alphabetical order), we’ll start from the first to the last (Ladipoe, MI, Vector, Ycee).


Ladipoe 

The multitalented veteran rapper who is signed to Mavin Records came through with a fiery verse. Opening with “My middle finger acting up again” and went ahead to deliver his bars with ease and confidence like he produced the beat. 

He was also caught throwing shade to God-knows-who, but my sources say it’s between Blaqbonez, M.I or Lyrical Joe; we really don’t mind. 

Poe gave props to the Ghanaian legend Sarkodie, and Nigerian economist Pat Utomi in one of his lines where he said “he’s what you get when you mix Sarkodie and Pat Utomi.”
Overall, he had a good verse, great delivery, Punches and references here and there and maintained a good rhyme scheme with a theme that was focused on bragging as the rap messiah and showing the other cats who he is. 

Delivery8
Punchlines8
Rhyme7
Quotables7
Theme7
TOTAL SCORE7.4

MI Abaga 

The Ol’G came with the boss energy. His verse was themed around him losing focus in the rap game while switching to the corporate world. M showed this in the verse by digressing from the theme and rapping about other things (you get it?).

Asides from being thematic to the T, he delivered his verse with the smoothest flow, cadence, punchlines, and infused humour in it. 

He took subtle shots at a Nigerian veteran actor in his line “By the way, some of y’all are sexist AF like Pete Edochie”. 

He maintained a good, though basic rhyme scheme from the beginning to the end and smoothly ended his verse with ‘It’s MI… The Guy’. A tag I suspect to be the title of his next album.

Delivery8
Punchlines8
Rhyme7
Quotables7
Theme8
TOTAL SCORE7.6

Vector

As always, the Liafiaji emcee came as though he had nothing to prove. Riding out with a laid-back and relaxed flow, he delivered his lines with less wordplay than we know him for. 

His verse relative to others we’ve reviewed so far comes last, as he really had some weak bars… like the line where he said “lines so thick, you would think I spit stout.” I get it, but there is no other stout in that bar, pun intended. Though, he came correct with his delivery.
He used the opportunity to pay homage to the late legend Sound Sultan, thereby making his verse multi-themed. 

Apart from the fact that he didn’t come correct as expected by listeners and even some of his fans, he also received backlash in the comment section for supposedly promoting cultism in one of his lines. 

Even though it’s glaring that Vec didn’t come as hard as we thought he would on this cypher, some of his fans are still parading the lifelong ‘you have to be smart to get Vector’s line’ BS.

Delivery8
Punchlines6
Rhyme7
Quotables6
Theme7
TOTAL SCORE6.6

Ycee

Ycee can be tagged as the underdog in this episode. He came with a different energy, clearly surpassing people’s expectations. He came with a vibe and bopped on the beat, raising the room temperature that Vector tried to cool.

For traditional hip-hop heads, Ycee’s verse was more fit for a song than a cypher. But generally speaking, he was beastly on it and it was a good rap verse. He also had good delivery with quotables like in the line he said “how can you be schooled by a Unilag dropout”. 

The Omo Alhaji crooner wasn’t really thematic as he was just showing off his rap skills. Probably to prove the point that he is truly skilled beyond the hype, and to shut ‘he can’t rap’ haters up.

Overall, he was confident while delivering his verse. Having to go as the last and final verse on a song/cypher comes with pressure, and he handled this pressure well. He also mentioned in his last line that in whatever rating there is, he’s not coming last, let’s see how true that is.

Delivery7
Punchlines7
Rhyme7
Quotables6
Theme6
TOTAL SCORE6.6

Shout-out to the rappers and their fans, and if you have a contrary rating or idea to the reviews, let us know in the comment section.

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