This year’s BET Hip Hop Awards aired earlier this week on Oct. 16, but were filmed back on Oct. 7 at the Miami Beach Convention Center. That night, DJ Scheme, a musician who attended the taping, tweeted that during one of the program’s cyphers (which themselves were pre-recorded), a rapper criticized by name the recently murdered South Florida rapper XXXTentacion, focusing specifically on his credible history of alleged domestic violence. DJ Scheme, who was an XXXTentacion collaborator, did not name who the rapper was, but he later implied the diss came from Vic Mensa.
Regarding the specifics of Mensa’s diss, Scheme tweeted:
yo bro how u gone say “Your favorite rapper is an abuser” and then follow it with a line saying “some shit X some shit so I won’t live long” u can deny it but everyone who was there heard that shit
The next day, Mensa confirmed he was the rapper in question, posting a video to Instagram in which he defended his verse but apologized directly to XXXTentacion’s mother, Cleopatra Bernard, who attended the taping to accept her son’s award for Best New Hip Hop Artist. “I had no idea a grieving mother would be in the audience to honor her lost son,” Mensa said. “I never intended to disrespect her and I offer my deepest condolences for her loss at the hands of gun violence. However, I vehemently reject the trend in hip-hop of championing abusers and I will not hold my tongue about it.”
In the week leading up the show’s airing, Mensa speaking out about XXXTentacion was by far the biggest news to sprout from the program. But when BET aired Mensa’s cypher during the broadcast on Tuesday—and shared the video on its website, YouTube, and social channels—his verse was censored. The rough lyrics Scheme mentioned can be heard in Mensa’s freestyle, but XXXTentacion’s name is absent. The general public heard Mensa’s verse as follows:
Only time you bear arms is in a wife beater, loser
Your favorite rapper’s a domestic abuser
Name a single Vic Mensa song
[Censored] we all know you won’t live that long
I don’t respect [censored] posthumously
Homicide ain’t new to me, catchup with Akademiks at your eulogy
After BET’s broadcast, online shit-stirrer DJ Akademiks, who was mentioned in Mensa’s verse and who also co-hosts Complex’s news commentary show Everyday Struggle, tweeted the section in question but without any censoring. Per Akademiks, the lyrics went as follows:
Vic Mensa rapped these lines infront of xxxtentacion mom
“Your favorite rapper is a domestic abuser.
Name a single Vic Mensa song,
XXX we all know you won’t live that long.
I don’t respect niggas posthumously, homicide ain’t new to me,
catch up with Akademiks at your eulogy”
It’s unclear why, when, or by whom the decision to censor Mensa’s verse was made. XXXTentacion was honored by BET with an award, and the rapper has generally been eulogized as a groundbreaker and hero by his peers in the industry. A BET publicist ignored multiple questions from Spin about the genesis of the censorship, and instead directed Spin to a publicist for Roc Nation, Mensa’s record label, saying that we “may want to reach out to her directly.”
The Roc Nation publicist has not responded to multiple requests for comment on whether the company had anything to do with the censorship. Mensa’s manager, as well as his PR team, which exists at a third party firm, have not responded to multiple requests for comment.
Last year, Mensa said that Roc Nation head Jay-Z personally advised him to remove a diss against an unnamed rapper from his debut album The Autobiography. Jay-Z later contributed a verse to “Talk Up,” a track off Drake’s Scorpion, that lamented XXXTentacion’s death. “Y’all killed X, let Zimmerman live, streets is done,” he rapped.