The Cipher is a weekly podcast featuring in-depth conversations with the most interesting figures in Hip-Hop
info_outline 86: An Ill Badler Christmas 2014 12/22/2014
86: An Ill Badler Christmas 2014 Our 2nd annual Christmas episode features former Def Jam exec and noted Christmas music obsessive Bill Adler. We discuss the 30th anniversary edition of his yearly Christmas mix (available EXCLUSIVELY from us — visit here) and his part in the new holiday music documentary Jingle Bell Rocks.We also find time to talk about the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, protest movements past and present, and plenty more. Happy holidays from The Cipher! Again, you can listen to Bill Adler’s 30th anniversary Xmas Jollies mix ONLY on our Soundcloud page.P.S. We’re honored to have been chosen as one of Slate’s “Best Podcasts About Music” this year. You can see the complete list here. And, as mentioned in the show’s introduction, you can find Cornell University’s online exhibit of Bill’s Def Jam materials on the university’s website.See http://theciphershow.com/episode/86/ for full show notes and comments.
info_outline 85: Adam Mansbach: You Have to Fucking Eat 12/16/2014
85: Adam Mansbach: You Have to Fucking Eat Most people know author Adam Mansbach from his 2011 “children’s book for adults,” Go the Fuck to Sleep. It became a sensation and led to readings by Werner Herzog and Samuel L. Jackson, a movie deal, a popular GTFTS-themed Obama ad, and countless morning show appearances. Now he returns with a sequel, You Have to Fucking Eat — a funny and realistic take on a whole new parenting challenge.Regular listeners know that Adam does much more than write books with curses in the title. We discussed his literary novels and life in jazz in our first talk. This time, we talk screenwriting, thrillers, middle grade books, and the best child rappers of all time.See http://theciphershow.com/episode/85/ for full show notes and comments.
info_outline 84: 88-Keys 12/08/2014
84: 88-Keys This week, we have an epic sit-down with producer 88-Keys. 88 got his start as a teenager, choosing samples for groups like A Tribe Called Quest while working for a record dealer. He easily moved from there into production, and was a key voice in underground hip-hop during the Rawkus Records heyday. His work on albums by Black Star, Mos Def (now Yasiin Bey), and others helped cement the sound of the era.88 has continued to make music for everyone from Beanie Sigel to Macy Gray, in addition to releasing his own solo album, The Death of Adam, in 2008. In recent years, his name made headlines again when he produced the hit song “No Church in the Wild” for Jay Z and his longtime best friend Kanye West.We talked to 88 about his past, present, and exciting future, including his Locksmith Music label.See http://theciphershow.com/episode/84/ for full show notes and comments.
info_outline 83: Buddha Monk & Mickey Hess on Ol' Dirty Bastard 12/02/2014
83: Buddha Monk & Mickey Hess on Ol' Dirty Bastard Live from Bed Stuy’s Restoration Plaza, we bring you a very special event with Buddha Monk and Mickey Hess, authors of a new biography of the Wu’s Ol’ Dirty Bastard. Occurring only blocks from Dirty’s childhood home, this conversation features not only the authors, but also special appearances from the Wu member’s family and friends. Buddha Monk was Dirty’s close friend since they were children, and had a front row seat to the artist’s rise and fall. His book, co-written with Rider professor Mickey Hess, is The Dirty Version: On Stage, In the Studio, and In the Streets With Ol’ Dirty Bastard, published by Harper Collins. You can buy it here.If you like this episode, be sure to check out our recent article on the Wu for Radio.comSee http://theciphershow.com/episode/83/ for full show notes and comments.
info_outline 82: Nino Bless 11/24/2014
82: Nino Bless Nino Bless got his start in the NYC mixtape scene in the mid to late 2000s. He first came to many fans’ attention with a killer verse on Joe Budden’s 2008 song “Slaughterhouse.” From there, he released a string of increasingly personal and powerful projects that revealed a true artist with a unique vision. His R.O.A.M. series of records, three albums deep, are complex, varied, and like nothing else out there. His latest project is Illuminati Reject.We talked to “the Chomsky of Ebonical speech” about getting encouragement from your idols; how he made “Rhyme of the Year (MK Ultra),” his epic “response to the response” to Kendrick Lamar’s “Control” verse; how New York City has changed; how Drake is truly the realest rapper out; and much more.See http://theciphershow.com/episode/82/ for full show notes and comments.
info_outline 81: Sage Francis 11/18/2014
81: Sage Francis This episode, we have a truly great conversation with Sage Francis. Rising up out of the battle-rap and poetry slam scenes in the late 1990s, Sage first came to many fans’ notice with his incredible 2002 debut album Personal Journals. That started a non-stop grind of running his own record label while putting out five albums and doing countless tours over the next eight years. After 2010’s Li(f)e, he took a four-year hiatus from recording and touring — one that ended with this year’s Copper Gone.We talked to Sage (who was in the midst of a European tour) about what he does and doesn’t owe his fans, how he makes ideas rhyme, what it took to get through hard times and make a comeback, and tons more.See http://theciphershow.com/episode/81/ for full show notes and comments.
info_outline 80: Brian Coleman 11/11/2014
80: Brian Coleman This episode, we talk to author Brian Coleman. Coleman has written three volumes of what he calls “invisible liner notes” — blow-by-blow accounts of the making of classic hip-hop records from the people who were there. The newest entry in the series is Check the Technique, Vol. 2, which you can (and should!) cop here.We discuss KMD, the differences between the two emcees in Black Star, the reason Licensed to Ill never made it into his books, why first or second albums are always a group’s best, and plenty more.See http://theciphershow.com/episode/80/ for full show notes and comments.
info_outline 79: Lisa Leone 11/04/2014
79: Lisa Leone Lisa Leone has lived a life for the ages. She began photographing some of the most important figures in the early days of hip-hop culture (who were also her friends) as a teenager. Then she took some of the best, most revealing photos ever of musical icons like Snoop Dogg, Nas, The Fugees, Mary J. Blige, and tons more. Lisa moved from there into working on music videos, before her career took an unexpected left turn.She turned a short research photo assignment for a friend into four years working closely with film legend Stanley Kubrick on his final film, Eyes Wide Shut. Then she took that experience and co-directed the iconic documentary on sneakers and sneaker heads, Just for Kicks.A gorgeous book of Lisa’s hip-hop photos, Here I Am - Photographs By Lisa Leone, is available now. An exhibit of that name is running through January 11th at the Bronx Museum of the Arts. You can view a slideshow of some of her photos over at Complex.See http://theciphershow.com/episode/79/ for full show notes and comments.
info_outline 78: No Malice 10/28/2014
78: No Malice This episode, we have a wide-ranging convo with Gene “No Malice” Thornton of Clipse. No Malice (formerly just Malice, before a religious epiphany several years back) and his brother Terrance, a.k.a. Pusha T, form one of rap’s greatest duos. Their smart, vicious raps — often about their real-life experiences dealing cocaine — first brought them to prominence with the massive hit “Grindin’” back in 2002. The group quickly became a critical and commercial favorite, thanks to the brothers’ rhymes and some production help from The Neptunes.But after some label issues and legal problems, Clipse went on hiatus. No Malice released his solo debut and a memoir, while his brother joined forces with Kanye West. We talk to No Malice about God, going solo, the past (and future) of Clipse, which lyric he regrets most, and more.See http://theciphershow.com/episode/78/ for full show notes and comments.
info_outline 77: DJ Quik and Eric Biddines 10/20/2014
77: DJ Quik and Eric Biddines This episode, we have a two-fer. We begin with a really awesome interview with a true West Coast legend, DJ Quik. He has a new album, The Midnight Life, and we talk to him about that, his relationships with longtime collaborators Suga Free and guitarist Robert Bacon, “Hitler microphones,” that time Dr. Dre broke his speakers, and a lot more.In the second half of the show, we introduce a new artist. Eric Biddines is a Florida-based rapper whose new project, Planet Coffee Bean 2, came to our attention recently. Eric’s futuristic, imaginative, and caffeinated music — and personality — are not to be missed.See http://theciphershow.com/episode/77/ for full show notes and comments.
info_outline 76: Rittz 10/14/2014
76: Rittz Welcome to The Cipher! Outside the Lines With Rap Genius has been renamed, rebranded, and improved. We begin the podcast’s new chapter with Strange Music’s favorite “White Rapper,” Rittz. We talked to the Atlanta artist on the day his latest album, Next to Nothing, was released. We spoke about syllable matching, the dark side of partying, how the 1996 Olympics changed everything, and tons more.Rittz’ fast-rapping style first grabbed fans’ attention on Yelawolf’s “Box Chevy Pt. 3” in 2010, after a decade of grinding in the Atlanta underground. He signed to Tech N9ne’s Strange Music label, where his fast-rapping acrobatics and introspective, painfully honest lyrics fit right in. Next to Nothing continues and improves on his patented style while adding some new twists — including a fair amount of singing, which we talk about during the interview.Make sure to follow The Cipher on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. Most importantly, subscribe, rate, and review us on iTunes.About the re-launch:The Cipher is a revamp and continuation of the long-running and critically acclaimed podcast Outside the Lines With Rap Genius. We’ve taken the show outside of the Genius family in order to devote the time and attention necessary to really make it great. For those who loved the podcast previously, we still have the same in-depth conversations, the same questions no one has ever asked before, and the same variety of awesome guests. But we’ve improved everything else — the sound, the look, the format, and more.See http://theciphershow.com/episode/76/ for full show notes and comments.
info_outline 75: The Best Of OTL Pt. 2 08/19/2014
75: The Best Of OTL Pt. 2 From Broadway stars to legendary DJs to the best of the battle rappers, OTL has hosted a spectrum of voices — each with an individual story to tell. This episode takes us through the very best of OTL — its highs and lows, its most memorable soundbites, and its most resounding voices. Join us as we take you through Part 2 of OTL’s best.
info_outline 74: The Best Of OTL Pt. 1 08/05/2014
74: The Best Of OTL Pt. 1 From Broadway stars to legendary DJs to the best of the battle rappers, OTL has hosted a spectrum of voices — each with an individual story to tell. This episode takes us through the very best of OTL — its highs and lows, its most memorable soundbites, and its most resounding voices. Join us as we take you through Part 1 of OTL’s best.See http://theciphershow.com/episode/74/ for full show notes and comments.
info_outline 73: Christopher Jackson 07/22/2014
73: Christopher Jackson This week, we talk to Christopher Jackson, one of the lead actors in Broadway’s ‘Holler If Ya Hear Me’, the musical based on Tupac’s legacy. When ‘Holler If Ya Hear Me’ first hit Broadway, it was marketed as not just a story about Tupac’s music, but as a story about love — and that’s just what it is, a story about love within a world similar to that which Tupac lived, experienced, and rapped about. The play tackles issues such as gun violence, poverty, and racism head-on — all through the lens of a community that feels its pains together. ‘Holler’ is a play that fights against Broadway’s increasingly homogenized landscape, daring to tell a story that doesn’t fit into the cookie cutter Broadway mold.
info_outline 72: Todd Kreidler 07/08/2014
72: Todd Kreidler This week, we talk with Todd Kreidler, the writer behind the Broadway musical based on the life and music of 2pac, ‘Holler If Ya Hear Me’. Kreidler was tasked with taking on the legacy of legendary MC 2Pac Shakur, an initially daunting prospect. Through his use of 2Pac’s songs, spirit, and description of the world around him, Kreidler crafted a musical that doesn’t shy away from tough topics, that tackles issues such as gun violence and racism head on — through the lens of a community that fights against outside pressure together, that feels its pains together. Kreidler saw the musical as a chance to take the “I” away from the music and take a look into the universe of characters that lived within 2pac’s songs. Comparing 2Pac to Shakespeare, Kreidler spoke of the worlds 2Pac created with his lyrics — ‘Holler If Ya Hear Me’ gets the chance to give pieces of 2Pac’s dialogue and story to many characters, building a community around them similar to the one 2Pac himself got to experience and absorb in his own life
info_outline 71: Saul Williams 06/24/2014
71: Saul Williams Saul Williams is man who can wear many hats: actor, rapper, poet. For Williams, the line was never cut between fields; instead, he was always trying to blend, to collaborate, to draw from one medium to influence another. In third grade, Williams was rapping in Shakespearean English and French — simply because that’s what he was learning in school. By the time he was 16, he was writing one of the first hip hop operas — or “hip hopera”. Williams most recent role sees him taking on the legacy of Tupac Shakur in the Broadway musical, ‘Holler If Ya Hear Me’, based on the songs of the legendary MC. The musical doesn’t shy away from tough topics, tackling issues such as gun violence and racism head on — through the lens of a community that fights against outside pressure together, that feels its pains together.
info_outline 70: YC the Cynic 06/10/2014
70: YC the Cynic YC the Cynic is a constantly changing MC. “You’re Welcome”, his first mixtape in 2010, saw YC rapping over classic New York beats — exploring the lineage of rappers that came before him. By the time he released his next mixtape, “Fall Forward”, the following year, the rapper was already exploring and defining a new space for himself. Containing mostly original production, “Fall Forward” allowed YC to experiment, delving into complex, diverse, and imaginative flows, both in rhyme and subject matter. “Fall Forward” proved to be the breakout tape for YC, the success riding off the project pushing him further towards bigger collaborations and bigger stages. A founding member of the Rebel Diaz Arts Collective, YC has traveled with the group in the context of music, social justice, and community engagement alike, weaving the three into a tandem mission.