It will be a “show and prove kind of thing,” says Michael McGuire, chair of the Hopscotch Executive Committee, as the 2nd annual Atlantic hip-hop cypher helps kick off the fifth annual Hopscotch Halifax Celebration.
A cypher, in hip-hop terms, is what happens when MCs gather and rap in a circular order one after another, until their time is up or they can’t keep rhyming anymore. Skills are flexed. Styles clash and connect. Egos are boosted and broken. Unless you rap you usually do not get to witness a cypher in progress. This year’s cypher will feature more than 30 MCs including J-Bru, Critty GetsLifted, Quake Matthews, City Natives, Splash and Maje. The 30-plus MCs have been divided into three groups, with each group paired with a DJ (Uncle Fester,Tom Flemming, DJ HotCue) to work out beats and timings.
One of the MCs on this year’s bill, DonULTRA, says that it’s “about getting together and really pushing yourself and pushing each other in a positive light, you know? Everybody’s gonna come out and spit fire.” McGuire echoes that cyphers can act as catalysts in the creative process, strengthening the hip-hop community. “Everyone gets to see what everyone else is doing. As artists you sometimes just keep your head down and do what you're doing.”
LinA , another MC ready to rock Dartmouth Cove, describes herself as “beyond excited” to be in this year’s lineup. “Being in a group with people who have the same interests, same musical backgrounds, getting together and spitting your craziest 16 bars—the whole vibe you get is amazing,” exclaims LinA, who says as an MC her goal in a cypher is no different than any other show. “You want to go out and you're just mainly thinking about having a good time and really rockin’ it, the way you always should as an MC, no matter what.”
Ultimately the 2nd Annual Atlantic Hip Hop Cypher is an amazing opportunity to witness a range of high-calibre east coast MCs. As DonULTRA puts it: “Everybody just gets to come together for the love of hip-hop.” That being said, when it comes to the cypher it will be clear “who are the spitters," according to McGuire. “You can't hide in a cypher situation, you got it or you don't."
2nd Annual Atlantic Hip-Hop Cypher
Friday, September 26 at 6:30-10pm
Dartmouth Cove, Canal Street