How 'The Cypher Effect' Has Changed the Local Underground Hip-Hop Scene

Categories: Hip-Hop
KRS-One.jpg
KRS-One Gets Down at a Cypher Effect live event

In his dedication to the culture, Jorge Soria had been involved for many years on the local Los Angeles scene helping hip-hop artists by doing promotions, putting shows together and recording music all before taking a break. He returned last year offering his skills in music video production when another idea came along. "Although, it's great to have music videos," Soria says, "It doesn't really guarantee a good following or help with exposure."

A better way, in his mind, was to return to cyphers and film them. "Wouldn't it be cool to get local MCs that have a good following, that kids look up to and have them be in a place where it's just a raw 16 bars?" he pondered. There were skeptics at the early onset. Could such a spotlight uploaded to a YouTube channel really help spur the underground hip-hop movement in Southern California?

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With thirty-one episodes of The Cypher Effect produced by JDS Films for its first season now tallying up hundreds of thousands of views and a big upcoming show this weekend featuring KRS-One, Soria's vision has definitely been vindicated.

The first session dropped on January 23 this year featuring MCs like Self Provoked, MFourMusik and Tony Sicks. The setup was simple: Film in black and white, drop the instrumental and let rappers loose with 16 bars and something to prove."It started growing and helped artists get more exposure than music videos ever did," Soria says. "That was my whole goal behind it."

The most viral episode to date featured all female MCs such as Fawksie1, Reverie, and Gavlyn atop a rooftop displaying their talents. The session has amassed over 230,000 views and, ironically, with all the increased attention, new music video releases by artists achieve now what they didn't before. Fan bases are exposed to each other and collaborations through networking have taken shape. The series has successfully filled a vacuum in terms of television and print coverage. Long gone are the days of The Hip Hop Show that used to air on KJLA, and social media has proven its prowess in the absence of traditional press attention.



As the season progressed, the scope of The Cypher Effect eventually expanded down to Orange County by episode 10 featuring our very own Locally Grown Collective and friends. "It gave us a chance to showcase our talents and create relationships with other dope artists," Dave Allen says of the experience. "Overall it helped set the tone of this past summer season."

Before that episode, Soria helped put together a small scale show that he describes as a "great experience" having seen local MCs not only do their own sets, but also collaborate on stage with others. Now with season one of the Cypher Effect in the books and with its prominence growing, he wants to do another, bigger production, this time enlisting the talents of KRS-One.

"He represents hip-hop from the beginning and he's somebody that people respect for good reasons," Soria says. "It's good to have someone that's been in the business and mastered the art of being an MC and to have him with all these kids that maybe never got a chance to rock a show in Hollywood with a big name."

The prospects have performers on the bill more than ready to roll. "It's been real sick to see diversity from all different areas thanks to the cyphers and this show is not only going to bring many independent artists together from areas all over California to showcase their craft but they're also bringing the legendary KRS-One so...I'm hyped!" says Orange-based rapper Endz of Locally Grown Collective. Also in the mix representing OC is Costa Mesa's Sage One, another Cypher Effect alum.

After the season one celebration show comes to close, Soria is already plotting the next move. A mixtape is in the works and there will be a focus on artist development with an impressive woman rapper named Klassy being one of the first on deck. "We also really want to start going outside of LA," he says of his ambitions to document scenes in cities like San Diego, Oakland, Sacramento, and Las Vegas for the next set of episodes. "We also partnered up with a lot of groups from different countries where they're going to be spitting in cyphers specifically for our series." If all goes well, the scope will expand worldwide to places like Brazil, France, and Japan.

"When I started this, I didn't think it was going to spread the way it did," Soria reflects. "It's been crazy. I've seen a big change in the scene locally and the impact that it has had and I've been happy with that. I never expected this!"

JDS Films and Big Lyrik Entertainment present The Cypher Effect Live at Weber's Place, 19312 Vanowen Street, Reseda, Sat., Oct. 6, 2 p.m.-Midnight. Pre-sale tickets are sold out! $20 at the door. All Ages.

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