Soul Food Cypher

Atlanta, Community, Timeless

"The cypher is a community - a place where lyricist[s], under the guidance of meter and rhyme, share stories, exchange knowledge and speak freely." This quote from Soul Food Cypher's website attests to the power of hip hop to bring together a community around the innovative performance of flow and lyricism.

A cypher is a circle first and foremost, a closed loop but one that widens and contracts to make each member feel a necessary part of its totality. It is also one of the earliest forms of hip hop culture, and an integral part of the development of rap music. The cypher as a platform of exchange of information, stories and ideas, together in one's community and between broader groups, actually predates hip hop by thousands of years—African griots captivated audiences and drum circles were prevalent long before inner-city youth in America began gathering as social practice.

And core to the cypher is the art of freestyling, where streams of consciousness pour out over instrumentals and breakbeats.

Like jazz, the freestyle thrives on the moment, on pulling from, pairing off and swapping rhymes with other emcees. As the cypher circle grows and widens, the ideas become more diverse and reflect the authentic interests of the community.

As a hip hop-based non-profit in Atlanta, Soul Food Cypher's mission is three-fold: to maintain this tradition of the cypher and solidify the art of freestyling as an aesthetic, to give the lyricist community a place where they are safe and feel at ease to gather, and to support and foster the history and arts education of kids and teens in schools, community centers, and youth detention facilities around Atlanta. To be a Soul Food Cypher member means having a space and a time to express yourself and feel free and at ease, but it also carries a responsibility: to pass on the respect and knowledge of the emcee throughout the community. Thus, with its artistic and grassroots work, Soul Food Cypher is helping generations of emcees further their legacies as modern-day griots.
Statement by Omar El-Sabrout

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Same beats + Expanded slide deck
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Enter the Soul Food Cypher Experience ↗︎

A conversation with:

Soul Food Cypher

Alex Acosta
Mark Montgomery
Zano Ludgood

Original music for the Soul Food Cypher Experience created and produced by Zano Ludgood

More at: ↗︎