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Cypher club provides alternative freestyle and beat forum

Photo by Garrett Wang. Reed Essex '19, Jacob Leder '20, Hameed Weaver '17, Dhruv Gupta '17, Logan Stuart '19 and Deniz Sahin '20 come together to share homemade beats and practice freestyling. A performance is coming up soon.
Photo by Garrett Wang. Reed Essex ’19, Jacob Leder ’20, Hameed Weaver ’17, Dhruv Gupta ’17, Logan Stuart ’19 and Deniz Sahin ’20 come together to share homemade beats and practice freestyling. A performance is coming up soon.

If you walk into Gardner Lounge on a Wednesday or Saturday night, you’ll hear homemade beats and rotating freestyles from the Cypher Club. This club is a student-run organization intended to provide a freestyle forum that serves as an alternative space different from other parts of campus.

Cypher Club came from a Facebook status. Hameed Weaver ’17, the founder of Cypher Club, decided he wanted to start a freestyling group, so he reached out to the Grinnellians on his Facebook page to try and find a group of students to help him out. Dhruv Gupta ’17 and Abraham Mhaidli ’17 showed interest, and they all got together and just started rapping.

“Cypher is just the concept of, you get a beat and people keep rapping around it and passing it on,” Gupta said. 

In past years, the group found beats on the internet to help them with their improvised rapping. This year, they decided to incorporate Grinnellians who produce beats, so the music they make is “100 percent Grinnell,” Gupta said.

“Here at Grinnell, there are a lot of people that do things as hobbies that you just don’t know about, just because there isn’t a community or a group where people can share these talents,” Weaver said.

As producers join the Cypher Club, they’ve started to create a new space that has a more hip-hop-y vibe for production.

“I was talking to Hameed about Chicago over the summer and we’re trying to produce more hip-hop here, because FreeSound can have a rock vibe,” said Reed Essex ’19.

Weaver started rapping his second-year at Grinnell. He was at a house off-campus one night late into the morning and he started freestyling to some beats his friends were playing. He liked it and kept at it.

“I’ve always been around hip-hop music because of my brother. I’ve always liked hip-hop music but I’d never rapped,” Weaver said. “I was like, I like this, and I kept freestyling.”

Gupta began his rap career when he was in eighth grade, and he hasn’t stopped since. He freestyles all the time, even when he’s just walking around campus. He attributes his skills to the length of time he’s been practicing, as well as the practice itself.

“I would change countries every three to four years so I didn’t ever have consistent friends or family or anything like that. I wanted a skill so people would like me, so I started rapping,” Gupta said. “If you see me walking around the road, I’m probably just muttering to myself and it looks like of crazy, then you come down here and it doesn’t seem as crazy.”

Although the members of the Cypher Club make freestyling look easy, it takes lots of preparation. Having a large rhyme vocabulary is one way Gupta is able to rap off of a single word.

“Each word that there is, I usually have a bunch of rhymes in my head, pre-prepared and then [I] just mold it into that. There are verses I go into that I know every single rhyme that’s possible there, so if I had proclamation I could say generation, patience, sensation, radio station, anything like that,” Gupta said.

Attending club meetings is not the only way to hear some of these freestyles and beats, however. Weaver and Gupta plan to coordinate with FreeSound to throw a concert sometime soon.

“With the new beat makers, eventually we want to incorporate DJs and the Grinnellian Hip-hop Society in a performance,” Weaver said. “It’s an umbrella for Cypher Club, DJs and beat makers.”

Cypher Club’s goal is to have rappers and beat makers come together to show and cultivate their skills, and expand to incorporate more aspects of hip-hop.

“What I wanted to do was cultivate a community where people can come and distribute and show their art to other people whether that’s a beat making or rap,” Weaver said. “[We’re] just finding diamonds in this field we call Grinnell.”


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