Soul Cypher 4: Friday

By Brett Roegiers

B-boys and b-girls, emcees, deejays, graffiti writers, enthusiasts and spectators together to take part in the first night of a three-day outpouring of hip-hop culture.

The HipHop Collective’s fourth annual Soul Cypher kicked off Friday night at the Santa Fe Community College gymnasium.

The theme this year is Vibe, Culture and Respect, and you could definitely feel the positive energy from the estimated 500 people in attendance.

The two main events were the two-on-two breaking battles and the first annual Emcee Olympics. Behind the turntables, deejays Dirty Digits, Research and Basic took turns providing the beats for the all-night cypher, which ended at about 2 a.m.

Although there were winners in each of the competitions, it was apparent that it wasn’t about winning or losing, as cliché as that sounds. It was about raising awareness and embracing hip-hop as a cultural movement.

During intermission, The Gainesville Groove League played live funk music and there were open cyphers for the break-dancers to do their thing while they waited for the next competition. Throughout the night there were also emcee performances from members of the HipHop Collective, including El*A*Kwentz, Grasshead and Voice of the People.

Starting with the break-dancing battles, the participants competed in the center of the SFCC basketball court, and audience members were encouraged to come down from the bleachers and sit around the court closer to the action.

The participants in the breaking battles fed off the energy of the crowd as they gracefully leaped, flipped and spun to the dance, funk and hip-hop music. The participants were also the judges, and after a number of elimination rounds, Affiliated and Koro ended up the champions.

The Emcee Olympics were not a typical freestyle battle. They were broken down into five rounds with different criteria, and the focus was not on insulting the opponents but on flow, creativity and delivery.

In the preliminary round, each emcee had to draw three cards with words written on them that they had to use in their freestyle.

In the next round, they had to rhyme about three objects that they selected from a box of props, which included deodorant, a flip-flop and a surge protector.

After that there was the “Whose rhyme is it anyway?” round in which audience members provided a location and a situation for the emcee to freestyle about.

In the fourth round the emcee was able to do whatever they chose with no specific criteria other than to get the crowd going. They could freestyle, use something pre-written or whatever else they thought would elicit the best response from the audience.

After these four rounds, the competitors were narrowed down to two finalists who competed in a two-part final round. In the first part, the emcees had 45 seconds each to have a traditional battle on stage. After that, in a similar format with the opposite goal, they had to give each other props.

Madness, an emcee from Orlando, walked away the winner of the Emcee Olympics, and Basic Lee from Savannah, Ga., was the runner-up.

Sunday there will be a barbeque with open graffiti walls and an open cypher at UF’s Plaza of the Americas.

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