Cypher Junkies Interview
“Dope beats, dope rhymes, what more do y’all want?” Phonte of Little Brother fame once asked. It’s a great question, and one the Cypher Junkies embody. Check out their words, their music, and everything else as we put y’all up on another dope group to watch out for.
Congrats on a well-deserved Demo of the Month. First things first, how did you guys come together?
MC Bravado: I think we all have varying counts of the “Cypher Junkies Creation Myth” and that the truth is somewhere in between; it was a hazy time lol. I was in a group with my dude Ganiza who doesn’t really rhyme anymore but I was always closely affiliated with C-Nature and Marxman, another member of our group who wasn’t on our last project but will be on our next one. Marxman and I were friends since middle school and I met C-Nature through the local battle circuit. We kinda joined forces and I vaguely remember being at C-Nature’s house with McNasty and the three of us coming up with our group name after a long night of partying. NoName came into the fold around that time as well and we’ve all been rocking with each other ever since: a period of about ten years.
McNasty: We were formed when the big bang happened, we just didn’t know it for a few millenia.
Please take us through the making of a Cypher Junkies song.
C-Nature: First you’re gonna need a lot of reefer. Then we meditate on a beat and brainstorm some concepts. After that we sit in the studio with the beat playing for a couple of hours while No-Name paces back and forth.
McNasty: When we’re together we get in the studio, we let the beat ride for a long time, we talk some smack about what we think it could become, we may vote on a topic or idea if it comes down to it, but usually we’re on the same page, and once the small shit’s handled we just attack it.
MC Bravado: Generally we’ll just play a beat and people will just start suggesting ideas. Once one is agreed upon, we iron it out, reach a consensus, and structure the song. We’re all perfectionists so there is a lot of recording, listening, and re-recording/remixing that goes on which ultimately makes for a better product.
No-Name: We all certainly have our own process of writing, but we pick a beat, either create a topic or chorus and mold around it. Sometimes we just all write to what emotion the beat gives us, and then agree to what direction we wanna go on it. Each song is definitely its own monster.
From watching the video “The Cypher,” it seems as though you guys have a lot of natural chemistry. How important is that when you create your music?
No-Name: Chemistry is everything; we have an organic chemistry for sure. It is what kept us together as a group for the last ten years. It really shows in our on stage performance more than anywhere else i would say.
MC Bravado: It’s as crucial as anything. I think skill wise that we are as good as any group out there, plain and simple. Everyone in this group is a rapper’s rapper that brings a different intangible to the table. But more importantly than that we can be honest with each other due to said chemistry. If something sounds whack, we will tell each other and honestly make fun of each other about it which makes for a no half stepping kind of environment. We bounce ideas off each other well and get the most out of concepts by adding our own unique input. Plus there’s the simple fact that as much as we get on each other’s nerves sometimes, we fight like brothers and know each other that thoroughly. It makes for a cohesion and an authenticity in our music that can’t be duplicated otherwise.
C-Nature: It’s definitely important ‘cause we have a lot of fun doing it and it shows in the music. We all pretty much been through the same things when we were kids, so it’s easy to stay on the same page when we are writing songs, yet we all have very different personalities.
How do you guys balance your solo projects along with the group work?
MC Bravado: We just stay in constant communication. All of us work pretty consistently on solo endeavors or groups within the group side projects, like the “Dope Perspective EP” from C-Nature and I. That’s a free download on Bandcamp. Go get that! (laughs) But when it comes time to knock out a song for a Junkies project then we make it a priority. None of us live together so as emcees, there’s always going to be the natural inclination to write when we feel like it and knock out solo work, but we never let the group slip from being a top priority. The fact that we rarely do solo shows and perform as a group 90% of the time also helps the cause.
No-Name: When we do solo projects it’s primarily in between our group ones. We encourage each other to stay busy. As of late it’s good, because we have so many songs and projects we work on that there is never any downtime which is a great problem to have. We always rep each other and feature each other so its just as if it is group stuff.
C-Nature: We are pretty much always writing so it’s no problem. We usually just do our solo projects in between on our own time, but when there’s a group project to be done we put all our focus on that.
How do you balance being in different locations and still coming together for songs?
MC Bravado: The internet is our saving grace. Group convos, postal service collabs, etc. I have to give the rest of my group a lot of credit too because I’m the only asshole that moved out of state hahah. They do a great job of keeping me involved though, and I go up roughly two weekends a month to record, shoot videos, do shows etc. Plan on moving back to NY this summer though so things should get easier.
What are your goals for Cypher Junkies?
McNasty: The sky is the limit. I don’t wanna choose personal goals or say mainstream success as much as we’d love that, we just want the music to reach a lot of people, and I guess in the process we could take over the world. That would be cool.
MC Bravado: I don’t see why we can’t be a huge hit within the hip-hop community. I think we’re a little too raw for the Grammy crowd, but have the potential to be a colossal success in the game. I want XXL articles, I want 5 Mics in the Source, I want to tour the world, and simply and most importantly, I want to make a living with some of my best friends, doing what we all love. No-Name said it best, we’re a “Wu-tang and Beastie hybrid”, and that alone makes us fucking undeniable.
No-Name: Our goal is to keep making quality material. We really need a booking agent and want to tour very badly in the near future. But in the meantime we are building material and rocking as many shows as we can, until we can shop our stuff to a label that can meet our needs and really propel us to the next level of notoriety.
What’s the focus for you guys this year?
MC Bravado: Our turnaround rate with regards to projects is pretty crazy so there will undoubtedly be another Cypher Junkies album dropping in ’14. Our last project was sample-free, produced entirely by We Are the Stars, but we expect our next one to sound a bit closer to our mixtape roots. There will be more sample heavy boom-bap ish with production from our in-house producer and fellow emcee, Militant Marxman, and we will have some noteworthy features in terms of guest emcees and producers this go round as well. As for solo endeavors, I know everyone is working on something. I have a project called “Walk the Line”, clearly inspired by Johnny Cash, who is one of my 10 or so favorite songwriters ever. It’s one part conceptual EP and one part tribute to his work, that drops this Spring and features everyone in my group, along with SC Static and another guest feature that I’m gonna keep to myself for now. And for late summer/early fall, I plan on releasing another EP. I’ll reveal the title and handful of real noteworthy guests at a later date but gotta play my cards close to my chest for now.
No-Name: Also, I’m working on an EP with our boy SC Static called the Slashy Breese EP. I just dropped an EP called Front Stoop Chronicles. We want to make our LP but stay busy in between rocking as many EP’s as possible. This year should be a great one as far as material and ambition. Whoever catches wind of this group is gonna benefit big time..So we are just waiting to see who is gonna win the Cypher Junkies sweepstakes. (laughs) But in all seriousness, we are all very excited for this year considering the momentum we have created in 2013. CJ’s all day. Remember the name!