Rap cyphers are a cultural norm in rap history, greatly hinged on the culture of Emcees flexing their lyrical dexterity. Cyphers are a more controlled version of freestyle rap.
Unlike freestyle rap, where rappers are expected to jump on a beat and spit from the top of their heads, Cyphers can be pre-written or pre-recorded with the rappers involved choosing the beat they want to flow on.
Primarily, the overall idea of a cypher is to rap on a myriad of topics and deliver bars, but most rappers come to cyphers with one goal – to ‘kill’ or out rap every other rapper on sight, so it could also pass as a controlled rap battle.
It should be noted that a rap cypher is different from a Posse cut. While Posse cuts, which are rap songs with two or more rappers, could have hooks or chorus, Rap cyphers do not. So, it is safe to say, every rap cypher is a posse cut, but not all Posse cuts are rap cyphers.
First Nigeria’s major cypher was the BET Cypher 2011 featuring Naeto C, M.I Abaga, Ice Prince, and other heavyweights. Since then we’ve seen brands like Hennessy and Martell organizing rap cyphers as one of their marketing strategies.
On the flip side, cyphers based on rappers’ location have been released over the years; 1442 Cypher (Edo), SARS on Bars Cypher (Akwa Ibom), The Five Fingers of Death Cypher (Abuja). Other cyphers based on rappers’ schools, faith, beliefs etc., have also been released.
M.I Abaga, a big name in the African rap scene, has been involved in cyphers and is responsible for the continuity of this rap event in the country. Recently, TOJ Rappers, an arm of his fanbase – The Tribe of Judah – a group of young, creative and exceptionally talented supporters of the rapper and his craft, jumped into the booth and birthed The TOJ Rap Cypher.
Six dope rappers from The Tribe – thellO, god femcee with heavyweight bars and flows to sink rivals, cross60, Jolliano, Sentinel, Gregrics and E-stunner – jumped into the booth for a fiery bar-fest. Every one of them came with bars and punches with different flows and styles carefully laid on a sick beat.
According to them, this is the first version of it and TOJ Rap Cypher 2.0 should be expected from now to the next quarter and they promised to make it sicker and harder with new acts and better beats.