When it comes to award show cyphers (not that there are too many, to be fair), it’s hard to look past the BET Hip-Hop Awards cyphers, where the biggest established and upcoming names battle it out for the coveted title of GOAT, laughing in the face of the actual award winners. For the uninitiated, the cyphers (freestyles) are done in teams, groups of four or five artists who usually have something in common, whether it be the same record label, or from the same stage show (as seen the in the Hamilton Cypher this year).There were some standouts from this years cyphers, from Redman’s Def Squad to Black Thought’s Hamilton cypher, and I was beginning to think these would be bookmarked under ‘dope’ until the 2016 rounds.
But everything changed this week after the 2015 Soul Train Awards. The very first R&B/Soul cypher took place, and we have no doubt it’ll go down in history as a moment of legend. Lo Down Loretta Brown, aka Erykah Badu, introduced the R&B/Soul cypher, which features K-Ci Hailey, Lalah Hathaway, Chrisette Michele, and the legendary Eddie Levert from The O’Jays. With Badu on the decks and Omar Edwards on the keys, the supergroup delivered a stunning live rendition of the cypher classic, Mobb Deep’s Survival of the Fittest which samples The Barry Harris Trio and Al Cohn‘s Skylark.
I’ll admit it seemed unlikely that a cypher would work in another genre, but these four absolutely nail it and all come together at the end for an amazing scat session. It is just one of those things you will have to check out for yourself below, it is the life-giving experience you need to get you through the week. Fingers crossed this isn’t the last soul cypher we get to hear!