I’m sure you know what battle rap is, because who hasn’t seen 8 Mile? But do you know about today’s cypher rappers – like Chris Rivers – who are killing the underground scene?
Story | Sara Loretta
Image | The Source Magazine
Many rappers started in the battle rap scene, whether that was in the parking lot at their high school (6LACK) or in an underground club (Eminem, Oswin Benjamin, Token, LL Cool J, etc.), but not all battle rappers stay in the ring after they gain popularity because record labels snatch them up.
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However, there are certain battle rappers who are known for their responses on the mic, like Chris Rivers. As the son of Big Pun, an early hip hop rapper from the Bronx, Rivers grew up around the sounds of Grandmaster Flash, Afrika Bambaataa and his own father celebrating and also defending the culture.
Rivers jumped into the rap scene at an early age and has continued to gain respect from the community because of his use of alliteration and swift responses during each performance. Chris Rivers is a part of TeamBackPack – a platform for underground artists to showcase their bars through cypher rounds with similar artists.
The difference between cyphers and traditional battle rap is primarily the vibe. As you had seen in 8 Mile, there is a large audience responding by disses or booing the rapper off stage; whereas in a cypher, these artists may not have an audience at all. Instead, each rapper is feeding off the other (usually there are 3 performers on stage at a time).
Being a cypher rapper is a completely different craft from the rap we’re hearing in mainstream today. These artists become successful based on their extensive references of pop culture, ability to discuss an idea or person within the overall message and using a beat they may have never heard before. Usually during a cypher series, artists only have one to two minutes to provide their story without having the comfort of a chorus to catch their breath. As seen in the video above, Chris Rivers is so good he spit over 100 bars without a beat, something only a true cypher can accomplish.
You can find Rivers on Youtube, and listen to his latest album Delorean, below.