Toronto-based battle rapper Corey Charron has a point. After winning this year’s Freestyle Friday competition held on BET’s 106 & Park this March, he was promised a slot at the BET Hip-Hop Awards Cypher, which were filmed last month but will debut during the Award show tonight on BET. After more than six months of waiting, that didn’t happen. “The last time I heard from them was two weeks ago,” Charron explained in a telephone call with XXL. ”I got a call from the guy that was ducking all my emails, saying, ‘Sorry, we already pre-filmed the Cypher, there is nothing we can do. You can’t be on this year.’ His reason was that they changed the format of the Cypher and they only allow artists with bigger buzzes on this year.”
Annoyed but undeterred, Charron hit back in the only attention-grabbing way he could think of—he dropped his own three-minute verse, attacking everyone from Gucci Mane and Lil Twist to Rick Ross and Kendrick Lamar. Charron spoke to XXL about his exclusion from the Cyphers, why he attacked who he attacked, and why he thinks that BET just refuses to recognize White, Canadian, non-traditional battle rappers. He’s not the first they’ve ignored, he says, but he wants to be the last. —Interview by Emmanuel C.M. (@ECM_LP)
Give us the background behind the BET Cypher incident.
From the beginning I was a huge fan of BET, especially the 106 & Park freestyle portion of that [Freestyle Fridays]. I auditioned online via an application for a few years and wasn’t accepted. I already have an international fan base from battle [rapping], and [BET] just didn’t have any Canadian rappers. I kind of forced their hand this year by starting a Twitter campaign, getting all my fans to tweet at 106 & Park and say, “Just give Charron a chance and let’s see what happens.” They took the bait. We got in contact with them and they told me, “We’ve never really had anyone come out this far, we don’t provide hotel or travel accommodations.” I told them that’s fine, because the prize of the BET Cypher, the exposure of that alone is definitely worth the investment.
So I went down and auditioned. Jin was actually there at the audition; he predicted I was going to win the whole thing. I ended up winning the whole thing, eight weeks in total. Beat every American rapper that I faced. Won in March and won $5,000 as well, which I did receive. For the BET Cypher, they told me last time I was there that [they would] be in contact, and [I would] be on the Cypher this year. I waited a few months until June, didn’t get any word. I messaged them, still nothing, kept messaging them. The last time I heard from them was two weeks ago. I got a call from the guy that was ducking all my emails, saying, “Sorry, we already pre-filmed the Cypher, there is nothing we can do. You can’t be on this year.” His reason was that they changed the format of the Cypher and they only allow artists with bigger buzzes on this year.
But they contradicted themselves, and I called them out, because they have another contest from Sprite—the 16 bars contest—and all you have to do is upload 16 bars from YouTube. The winner who gets the most votes on the site gets on the Cypher. Some guy won, and I checked out his YouTube account—he averages 200, 400 [views], nothing even over 1,000, whereas in the past three months I’ve [had] videos with a million, 1.5 million views in the Philippines, and just had a video come out with 150K a week before. And they didn’t really have an answer for that. And yeah, at the end of the day I would have gotten a lot of promotion for being a Canadian on the BET Cypher. Instead of trying to do a lawsuit, I just thought [I'd] fight back and try to get some exposure. So I made this YouTube verse.