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