Arizona Cyphers: The Movement Keeps Moving Like A Rollin’ Stone
Every music scene has it’s story, and one of the strongest elements in a scene are the artists and city’s ability to support one another. This can really make a city’s scene stick out. Being an indie Hip Hop artist in the Phoenix, Arizona music scene for almost 20 years, I have witnessed a lot of changes. On a positive note, they have been for the better. Artists are taking more action in their careers and creating opportunities for themselves. We are even now playing catch up and creating Hip Hop Cypher videos, something many other states have been doing for some time now.
Cyphers add a sense of community and togetherness in the Hip Hop culture, as each artist displays their skills in front of a crowd and one another. As random smiles and head nods appear on the faces of those, who hear a punchline they like, it’s like a lyrical equivalent to a jam session.
I always believed that creating a solution to a problem leads to better things as opposed to just complaining about the situation. I had originally created the “Arizona Inspiration on Fire” (AZ IOF) series in 2013 as an answer to the disconnect I would see in the local Arizona Hip Hop music scene. Artists on the east side and west side really didn’t know about each other’s movement, and the small cyphers that were out there were put together just for people in their own clique to shine under the guise of representing for all of Arizona. I made sure not to fall under this category by making sure I researched and reached out to artists in the scene I had not heard of, or had only seen in passing at different shows.
The result was a six person cypher made of myself ,and five other artists from all over The Valley of the Sun. It was done in the style of the BET Hip Hop cyphers, with us rhyming over a J-Dilla beat, and an intro by Arizona Home Homebase Poetry founder, HB.
2013 Arizona Inspiration on Fire Cypher, filmed and edited by Negro Tarantino.
The roster for the video was as follows:
We even had a behind the scenes video done by Occhi Magazine’s very own, Tiffany Unscripted:
In 2014, I followed up with Arizona’s first ever parent/child cypher, called The Bring Your Child to Work Day cypher. It had me and four other vets in the scene rhyming with our children. It was a really great experience because all the kids wrote their own verses, and we got to show a more personal part of our lives lives-we got, to show the world why we do this music, and who we sacrifice for whenever we record, do a show, and are out on the grind. This received both local and national recognition from media outlets like, INE Radio, Real Talk Louanna, and a mention in raprehab.com.
The Bring Your Child to Work Day cypher shot and edited by Negro Tarantino.
The child/parent roster included: King Arik/Huni, Nekaybaw/Thaahum, Young Pretty/Cee Alpha, Born Justice/True Father Allah, and Savyour/MPRESS. This DLC Marketing sponsored cypher had a remix done by DJ DN3 and also Nashville producer, Soulmates Project creator, Amerigo Gazaway 2014 AZ IOF Bring Your Child To Work Day Cypher (Soul Train Remix) Prod. Amerigo Gazaway.
Fast forward to this year in 2017, you still have artists breaking barriers, and coming together to create dope cypher projects. Just recently Phoenix, Arizona artist Boom Tha Vixen organized and all female MC cypher video. Shot and edited by DJ Pest, the cypher features a line up of both new seasoned talent who show their lyrical game can go head to head with their peers. Continuing the spirit of Hip Hop, what I like about this cypher is that it has artists from different parts of the Phoenix Hip Hop music scene. Each lyricist brings their own unique style, coming together like Voltron, and they all have a quotable you will remember. This roster includes Boom Tha Vixen, E Sauce, Kray Cee, MysticBlu, and MPRESS.
2017 Arizona All Female Cypher, shot and edited by DJ Pest.
Just as Hip Hop should be the energy behind this cypher is felt by the fans and artists alike. When talking about her experience in this new cypher, Phoenix lyricist MysticBlu shared her enthusiasm, “I loved the fact that all of us women came together with different styles and different backgrounds, and showed how diverse AZ is. We came together in the name of Hip Hop and represented for the ladies in full force!”
Some movements take longer than others to gain momentum. That is okay, as long as movement starts somewhere and keeps going. I know personally the time and effort it takes to put together Hip Hop cypher videos, so the fact that a young new artist, Boom Tha Vixen cares enough about the art of Hip Hop and her local scene to organize a new cypher video speaks volumes. It says a lot about the positive direction Hip Hop will always gravitate to. Sometimes, all it takes is for one person to take the reigns (or create the reigns where there are none), to spark something potentially world changing. Fellow lyricist, E Sauce, felt the impact of the cypher as well. “Working on this project with all these talented ladies was an empowering experience, this cypher is a statement that were here and we’re taking over making moves within the highly male dominant Hip Hop community. Every Queen on this cypher is highly talented, motivated, and genuinely striving to achieve success in the music industry. I’m honored to be apart of this project making History for Arizona Hip Hop.”
It really gives me confidence that this next generation of lyricists are still preserving the essence of Hip Hop just fine.
Connect with Thaahum:
He has over ten years of journalistic writing experience. He started his writing career with XPOZ Magazine out of Phoenix, Arizona. Additionally, he wrote for Film Writer and Director Kevin Smith's Quick Stop Entertainment, an online entertainment website. Additionally, Thaahum is a polished Hip Hop MC. Many of his songs and projects appeared on several television and direct-to-DVD releases. His experience as an artist expanded his network. It granted him personal access to the music and film industry. This resulted in an in-depth knowledge of pop culture. Thaahum's column on Occhi Magazine is called "Peripheral On Center." It will focus on showcasing projects of emerging and rising talent. This unique and fascinating column will access the heart of the business side of entertainment, to provide an insider's view. You can support Thaahum's upcoming projects at Patreon: www.patreon.com/Thaahum