Chronicle’s Black History Cypher taps into local hip-hop talent

March 03
09:15 2022

While it may be exported and recreated across the world, no art form is more rooted in the Black culture than hip-hop. And for the second year in a row, to celebrate hip-hop and Black History Month, The Chronicle has given local artists the opportunity to showcase their talents with the Black History Cypher. 

This year artist Marl3yWrld Marko, Banks, Fresco From34, Terrell From Yonkers, OffSkrentch AC, and Big D-Money got their chance at the the beat provided by Grammy award-winning producer 9th Wonder, who is a graduate of Glenn High School. 

The idea for the cypher came from marketing director Shayna Smith and office manager Deanna Taylor. Smith said she saw young poets from the local nonprofit Authoring Action perform and the next day she showed Taylor clips of the performance and talked about how she wanted to do something similar. “I showed her a few clips and she said what about a cypher … then we came up with the details and then it just took off,” Smith said. 

People across the country viewed and shared the first cypher in 2021, and the 2022 edition already has more than 2,000 views on Facebook. 

The cyphers are curated by local videographer and graphic designer Gregg Penn. Penn said with the first cypher, which featured Ricky Ruckus, Chris Lewis, Cali Madrid, 14K Numbers, Young Dirt, Piiiiipe Extras, and Royal P, he wanted to bring in MCs, wordsmiths that represent the style that hip-hop is built on. This year, Penn said he wanted to highlight younger artists and the style that dominates hip-hop airwaves today. 

“Last year I wanted MCs and this year I wanted to bring in a younger crowd because they take a different approach and have a different perspective on things,” Penn said. 

In the sport of hip-hop, especially in a cypher, it can get very competitive, but Penn said he tells all the artists that this cypher isn’t about that. “I let everybody know that it’s not a competition; more than anything, this is about coming together. 

“This is about coming together and doing something positive.”

Calls from artists asking how they can be a part of the 2023 Black History Cypher have been coming in since the video was posted on YouTube last week, and Penn said he is already planning. “I might hop on there myself next year,” Penn laughed jokingly. He said in the future he wants to highlight more female artists. Penn also mentioned the possibility of getting 9th Wonder to join the cypher. 

“I definitely want to bring in more female artists and I know I want to continue to highlight younger artists because I want the younger crowd to have something to do and look forward to,” Penn continued. “It would be cool to have 9th Wonder, but that has to be something big … maybe year five.”

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Tevin Stinson

Tevin Stinson

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