If you know the local Hip Hop and Rap games, you've heard of DJ Exile. He's curated 'Cyper - Rock The Block' down at The Woods tonight - offering the perfect excuse to exchange parlance, shedding some light on the scene he's been pretty personally responsible for bringing to the come up.
What does it mean to ‘cypher’?
In the context of the Hip Hop or Rap realm, it means to enter into a sacred space of the emcee. Not everyone can enter the CYPHER, only those that have had the calling - a strong burning desire to say what is on their mind.
The space is usually defined by a circle, where people have the opportunity to express their art of wordplay, and deliver in the manner they see fit; each person has their own unique style, flow, content and identity.
What does the scene look like in New Zealand?
In terms of New Zealand, the CYPHER scene is very small in numbers - however this allows quality control, I think. At the moment there are two kinds of Cypher that exist in New Zealand, there’s the ONE OUTS rap battles, which have been developing for the past 5 years, and have a strong following (shouts to DLAR MADWAR for developing this platform in NZ). This type of CYPHER manifests in raps that are all out war - on a personal level - with each emcee setting out to destroy another emcee’s character and existence. It’s very funny, entertaining, and a lot of skill goes into preparation and delivery on the day, sometimes furious and raw!
1 year, 12 events and 70 emcees later and hours of DJ EXILE beat mixing, beat searching and DJ’n solo for the majority of the events (6 hour sets), CYPHER AK/NZ creates a positive and uplifting platform (inspired by the early 80’s in the U.S) that allows emcees to showcase their talents and skills in an environment that supports the underground AK/NZ hip hop movement, open to all those that have skills on the mic - essentially it was a Hip Hop open mic night! Now CYPHER has developed into a showcase, Open Cypher and a freestyle battle! It was only an idea that DJ EXILE came up with after watching the CYPHER develop in the states, it was then that DJ EXILE decided to get some emcee friends together and start a CYPHER in the studio who got together to share written rhymes and have fun freestyling.
How and when did you get involved?
January 2015 was the birth of CYPHER, I started this mofo gangsta ish...
I decided one night after going out on the town in AK City that I was bored with your average Hip Hop club nights, and set out to bring something different and change the game. The focus was bringing underground Hip Hop to the forefront of the nightclub scene, and providing a premium event as a positive outlet for rap. There’s many negative perspectives on what Hip Hop or Rap is today, and I believe it’s due to the fact that no one is setting standards - you can pretty much get away with mumbling in the mic over the top of a generic beat and be called a rapper.
To perform at a CYPHER you need to have one or more produced music tracks, and a performance track record; you need to have supported the CYPHER movement from its early conception, or be doing cool stuff (I’ll know who you are), and you will be entered into the CYPHER showcase where you will perform a 10-15 minute club banger set!
Do the emcees we produce have our own distinctive sound?
Every emcee brings something different to the CYPHER, and now the movement has caught the talents of a good number of female emcees as well.
I love the variation of vocal tones, subject matter, delivery techniques, moods, energy and rawness of the emcee, “Unhindered vocal kungfu,” is what I like to call it. The energy is amazing in the right atmosphere!
If I know the emcee personally then I’ll put them on, some emcee’s have had repeat shows which is great as it allows a wider audience to check out their sound.
Subject matter is always a concern with me. If I don’t like it then I’ll tell you, or I simply won’t put you on in the first place.
Could you introduce us to some of the acts on your bill for tonight?
On the bill we have a great showcase of new talent to the Cypher stage, and a couple of veterans which will be a good cross reference; nu-blood meets the vets.
Each emcee for the night has been hand-picked to bring different styles to the stage! Get familiar over on our Facebook event page.