About six months ago Corey Charron, a white Canadian rapper, won a freestyling competition called March Mayhem on 106 & Park’s Freestyle Fridays. The competition is a tournament style, single elimination contest and consisted of multiple, weekly episodes on national television. The winner of each match was decided by three guest judges. Footage of the show, including his final match against rapper Interstate Fats, can be found on youtube.
During that final, the host of the show, Bow Wow, clearly says that the winner of that match would receive a spot on the 2013 BET Awards Show Cypher. Black Entertainment Television recently released the list of artists who will appear on the Awards Show. Notably absent from this list? Charron.
Corey Charron won his competition. He placed first and beat every American opponent. He was awarded a $5,000 check, a pair of shoes, and around $300 worth of Taco Bell gift cards along the way. He was also promised spot on the BET Awards show cypher.
When Charron told me that BET e-mailed him that they changed their minds and will not allow him his spot, I was shocked. The first thing I thought of when I heard this news? Sue them. It seems like he could make a strong case that they broke their promise to him. A promise that he relied upon. Since his win, he has promoted himself as soon-to-be on the BET Awards Show Cypher in newspaper articles and on TV. He was quickly ridiculed by fans on the internet for his exclusion. At this point, my thought was, if they exclude him, then his reputation will have been irreparably harmed.
Charron then released his B.E.T. Cypher Verse in which he expressed a great deal of indignation toward B.E.T. and other mainstream hip-hop artists. Perhaps fueled by his exclusion, Charron comes with some of his best material to date, taking shots at Gucci Mane, Lil Twist, 2 Chainz, Kendrick Lamar, Miley Cyrus, Usher, and Justin Beiber. It has already received 100,000 views and climbing.
In his verse, Charron sums up the controversy:
“. . . Image of a nerd. I sense a little hatred. I won fair and square. No invitation and no indication, this is from a station, originally created, to fight discrimination. I don’t have the look that you’re company wants…”
Ultimately, it appears that Charron has benefited substantially by being excluded from the B.E.T. Awards Show. Not only did it inspire him to write some of his best material, but he’s received more media attention than ever before. He has recently garnered some attention from the mainstream media with two XXL articles as well as numerous underground hip-hop blogs.
When you’re a rapper, this kind of thing follows you around your entire career. Look at Eminem. In 1997, he won second place in a freestyle competition called the Rap Olympics. Legend has it that, even though he lost, his mix tape was given to Dr. Dre and the rest is history. Later Eminem would win an Oscar for his part in the semi-biographical film, 8-Mile, a movie which featured free-style rap battling competitions.
Charron was the only March Mayhem champion to not receive his spot. Notably, he is also the only white person to have ever won the B.E.T. tournament.
It sounds fishy. Black Entertainment Television excludes the only white person to have ever won their tournament. Other white rappers have also alleged that that they were unfairly excluded from competitions by BET. It seems so counter intuitive. You would think that the television channel that identifies with, and promotes itself to, the minority would be sympathetic to Charron’s position. In rap, white people are the minority.
According to Charron’s twitter, he tried out for years to appear on the show. Each year he was told no. Eventually, his followers successfully campaigned for his spot on the show. Once BET agreed to put him on, he won the entire tournament.
Charron told me that the spot on the cypher was the only reason he even competed in the show. He had to travel from Canada to the United States for 8 weeks straight. He spent $3,000 in travel and hotel rooms only so he could compete. Notable artists who made it on the cypher include some really well known stars including Royce Da 5’9″, Nick Cannon, Nelly, Kevin Hart, Joe Budden, Joell Ortiz, Crooked I, and Kendrick Lamar. Several lesser known artists also appeared.