The Cipher

During the spring semesters of my High School years, my friends and I ran track and participated in most of the same events. At practices, whenever the coach was late or whenever we finished the workout early, we would relax together on the infield or in the equipment shed with an iPod, speakers, and our amateur rap skills. It’s called a cipher and it is defined on popular website as “Two or more rappers freestyling together in an informal context. They could be battling or simply playing off of each other.” A freestyle is when a rapper rhymes and creates a song without having anything written down, which is also called “spittin a freestyle.” Freestyle and ciphers are a huge part of the Hip-Hop and Rap music culture, because it is a form of art created by African-Americans that allows anyone with something to say, a chance to say it.

My friends and I would join up, usually one of us would have beats to provide and we would just rap for fun. Sometimes the rhymes were clever and funny, sometimes they were boring and lame; sometimes we would battle each other, sometimes we would attempt to create songs; and sometimes we would just rap for as long as possible without running out of material or messing up the lyrics and tempo. Ciphers incorporate so many aspects like jokes/punchlines, metaphors/similes, and creativeness/originality that it became a competition to see who could produce the best combination of it all.

However, ciphers are not just about who is the best; ciphers were about displaying our talent and hanging out with friends. When a good cipher gets going, energy is present, people feed off one another and it is almost like a tangible feeling coursing through your body. In a cipher, people do not judge what you have to say because you are free to say whatever is on your mind. Ciphers act as a type of therapy, letting you express stress and frustration in the form original creations that might make a person or two laugh. Basically, a cipher is held when friends want to have fun with each other and it eventually transforms into tradition, something we looked forward to annually because it brought my friends and I closer for the period of time and made us all happy.