After ranking the 2019 XXL freestyles, it’s only routine to rank the cyphers as well. A cypher is essentially a group freestyle, where the MCs rap one after the other. It’s typically very competitive and the aim is to out-rap the MC before you. But due to the nature of current US rap no one’s out to beat each other, it’s more about creating an entertaining verse. That’s a key factor I’ll be considering when ranking, along with lyricism, performance value and cooperation with the beat.
Before ranking the performances individually, these are the rankings for the cyphers as a collective:
3. DaBaby, Megan Thee Stallion, YK Osiris, Lil Mosey
The cypher with DaBaby, Megan Thee Stallion, YK Osiris and Lil Mosey is 50% hit and 50% miss. DaBaby and Megan provide the best performances out of the whole class, but Mosey and Osiris bring the cypher down with the worst performances of the class.
2. Comethazine, Roddy Ricch, Tierra Whack
All three MCs impress in this cypher. Comethazine brings ruthless lines, Roddy Ricch is above-average and Tierra Whack is the most lyrical. The cypher would have been even better if Tierra Whack didn’t cut the beat and rap acapella.
1. Rico Nasty, YBN Cordae, Blueface
The cypher with Rico Nasty, YBN Cordae and Blueface is easily the best cypher of the class, and may be one of the best cyphers of recent years. There is impressive chemistry between the performers, like when Blueface and Cordae dance during Rico’s performance, Blueface ad-libbing for Cordae and Cordae referencing Blueface and Rico at the end of his verse.
10. Lil Mosey
Mosey knows himself that he didn’t try his best on his freestyles, acknowledging it in a tweet. There is nothing standout about his bars, and his performance is enough to put you to sleep. Easily the worst cypher performance of the class.
9. YK Osiris
Just like in his individual freestyle, YK Osiris sings his way through his portion of the cypher. His voice and melodies are mediocre, but at least he was having fun.
8. Roddy Ricch
This is where the performances begin to get good. Roddy Ricch may still be low but he held his own with a decent performance, he just didn’t provide any standout lines.
Blueface was the rapper who was expected to bring the most charisma to his performance. Unfortunately it underwhelmed, but his ‘ooh’ adlibs and standout line “I need a Kim Possible to play with my Roofus” were hilarious standouts.
Comethazine brought what was expected of him; ruthless lines delivered in an angry fashion. There were some funny lines and the flow was laidback yet engaging.
DaBaby improves on his solo freestyle with his cypher performance. He employs his usual triplet flow but the performances cries for some sort of switch-up as Baby goes well over a minute and a half.
4. YBN Cordae
Cordae’s performances featured some great wordplay and rhyme schemes. The flow wasn’t too engaging but he referenced his fellow cypher-mates in the bars, which is something to appreciate.
3. Tierra Whack
Tierra Whack brought the most lyrical performance out the entire class. There are numerous standout bars, such as “Used to want to be lighter but I still shine bein’ dark” and “My next pet is a giraffe ’cause I’m coming for necks”. Whack prevents herself from reaching a higher ranking due to her unstable flow and decision to go acapella.
2. Rico Nasty
Rico brought great flow, solid rhyme schemes and personality (“It can get surgical, personal / Everything I do be goin’ up, I’m on my vertical”). The only knock to her performance is that some of the delivery of the bars were rushed due to the fast-paced flow. But nevertheless, Rico Nasty had the second best cypher performance overall.
1. Megan Thee Stallion
Just like in her individual freestyle, Megan Thee Stallion brings a lot of charisma and energy thanks to her fast-paced flow and delivery. It is engaging and energic, even bringing a few memorable lines (“Your n****a in my DM and he writing love letters”). It isn’t the most lyrical performance out of the class but Megan brought heavy performance factor compared to her peers. Her delivery, flow and energy trumped every single one of her fellow freshman’s, providing standout one-liners alongside it.
All three of the female MCs make up the top three of the XXL Cypher rankings. The men have a lot of work to do to get back to the top positions. Let’s wait and see if they conquer the rankings next year.