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FREESTYLE: GATEWAY TO THE BEYOND WITHIN
They Were Having a Cipher
Six youths gather on a corner in any given city in the world. They form a circle and engage in a few seconds of discourse concerning what is about to happen. One opens the top to a 22 ounce of beer, pours some on the ground for “those who ain’t here,” drinks some and passes it to his comrades. Members of the neighborhood glance in from the outside and wonder what is about to occur. A concerned citizen thinks that they should call the police before a crime is committed, thinking, “There has been an increase in break-ins and thefts in the area lately, and someone has got to do something about these drug dealers.” All of a sudden one creates a rhythmic pattern using their mouth, hands, a foreign object, voice, or all of the above. The others begin to move their heads in unison, and one opens his mouth and begins to speak, juxtaposing his words over the rhythm. The neighbors calm a bit and watch out of curiosity what they are witnessing: six youths moving in unison to one rhythm, each expressing different emotions and thoughts through different styles. There is no fighting, drug dealing, or crime committed. The event lasts for two hours and then the circle disperses, promising to meet up the next day and do it again. The neighbors watching catch on to what just happened. “Oh, they were just rapping,” says one. A youth watching smiles and says, “Naw… they were having a cipher.”
1. Code, hidden meaning.
2. Nobody, a non-entity.
3. An enclosed circle of Hip-Hop practitioners and listeners, engaging in authentic discourse (Freestyling) with the aim of strengthening self-awareness, self-worth, knowledge of other practitioners and their styles, lyrical skill, or one’s connection to a creationary force, through
offering words of harmony (verbalizing a connection with group and creator),
awareness (verbalization of issues which cause difficulty within one’s life or issues that bring joy into one’s life),
actualization (verbalized plan of change or continuance),
alignment (verbalized understanding of one’s issues as being their own),
and synthesis (verbalized unity with creationary forces of change and continuance as to actualize new behavior or continue old behaviors);
sharing a message of personal importance with the congregation in order to increase another’s self-awareness, self-worth, knowledge of one’s self and style to another practitioner, and the collective’s ability to connect to a creationary force by maintaining harmony, balance, interconnectedness, and authenticity.
Creation within the Urban Placenta
To a Hip-Hopper the cipher (or cypher) represents the womb, an urban placenta that gives birth to emcees and beatboxers through the sharing of spiritual energies, transferred around and through a cosmic circle of combined rhythms. It is the training ground for those who aspire to reach the heights of the greatest emcees, a soapbox for the believers in a higher mode of expression and communication, a forum for those who wish to just enjoy in an individual-collective experience, or a combination of all three. The cipher embodies the sacred principles and dynamics of relationship found in and between all things, even if the practitioner is not cognizant of the subtle events taking place.
Think of Hip-Hop as being the binding energy of the cypher, existing between things and individuals. It is what helps Hip-Hoppers acknowledge each other and distinguish between authenticity and falseness of an individual, group, or their beliefs.
It is important to note that the description of this energy or force is not done for convention, but to describe an existing non-entity that would be associated or equitable with chi, prana, spirit, essence, the All, Ultimate Reality, Truth, etc. These words are used to describe an ever-present Reality that pervades all substance, but which could never be fully described.
To practitioners and listeners, Hip-Hop is that force which allows one to create, provides the atmosphere for creation to exist, and is the foundation for all creation of the music. It can be described as a feeling of elation, bliss, ecstasy, that one feels when one is in the environment that Hip-Hop is played, cultivated, or demonstrated.
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This is an excerpt from an unpublished article. To hear more from this article please listen to the podcast: