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The Voice of the Black Community

Arts and Entertainment

Summer of cyphers at JCSU
Rap, sing and dance through Aug. 27
 
Published Friday, July 5, 2019 9:37 pm
by Ashley Mahoney | The Charlotte Post

PHOTO | HERBERT L. WHITE
Cypher advocate Lala Specific is organizing a series of cyphers at Johnson C. Smith University.

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Welcome to the summer cypher.


Lala Specific made her debut on The Creatives podcast to discuss launching a cypher at Johnson C. Smith University July 16-Aug. 27 on the outdoor basketball court across from Brayboy Gym. They will take place Tuesdays from 8-10 p.m.

“The Niner Cypher will be going to Johnson C. Smith University to host a weekly cypher,” Specific said. “We’ll come together. We’re going to have a cypher. We’re going to rap. We’re going to sing. If people want to dance, they can do that too. We’ve had breakdancers come before. Come out. Commune with us. There’s no signup, so you can just come. If you don’t rap, you can come and just watch.”

What exactly is a cypher?

“A cypher is a group of people, artists, community, anybody who comes together and either raps, freestyle raps, sings, anything artistic that they would like to share in the circle,” Specific said. “Most of the time it will be rapping. That’s all it is. You just come, and you rap. [There are] people beatboxing. You jam out, and you vibe. It’s simple. It’s all about hip hop.”

The Niner Cypher is one of seven cyphers on college campuses across North Carolina. It began at North Carolina State University.

“The name of our organization is Cypher Univercity,” Specific said. “The N.C. State Cypher is the head cypher of all seven locations.”

Specific’s first cypher experience took place at NCSU. For the hip hop artist, philanthropist and Harding University High School math teacher, it was a game changing experience.

“You go there, and it is completely free and freeing, if you need to get something off your chest,” said Lala Specific, an alumna of UNC Charlotte. “When I moved to Charlotte from the Raleigh area I was like, ‘dang, I miss the cypher.’ Nige Hood was setting up the cypher at UNC Charlotte, and somehow I ended up getting the reigns to keep the cypher going. The experience at the Charlotte cypher was definitely different form N.C. State, because different places have different vibes. It was still a positive vibe. It was still the same type of cypher.”

The Niner Cypher evolved into a campus student organization, transitioning from the UNCC Cypher to the Niner Cypher. Their designation allows them to invest in the community, as a student organization.

“From that now to going to Johnson C. Smith University, we’re hoping to keep the same energy and that experience going,” Specific said. “That’s kind of what the trial is for.”

 

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