Double Issue: Why is it so hard for us to Appreciate Classic Hip Hop, and 2012 Year-End Cypher Awards!

By Daniel Paiz

Hello everyone, and welcome to the last post of 2012 for Cypher Sessions. Luckily for all of you, it’s our first ever double-issue! We’ll be exploring why some artists from yesteryear continue to make music but don’t get the attention they deserve. We will then switch gears from the first part and give out our first ever Cypher Awards for 2012, as well as one award for 2013, which we plan on making a tradition for years to come. Without further ado, let’s jump into the first part of the double issue.

After attending one of my top three concerts ever, I recall for several days after reflecting on the show. If you are familiar with the Downtown Denver area, there is a fantastic theater called the Ogden and on this cold and slightly snowy Saturday night in December, Public Enemy headlined the Hip Hop Gods Tour, which also included many other legends including Wise Intelligent, Monie Love, and X-Clan among others.

The show, as I said earlier was one of my top three shows that I’ve ever seen (and up until this point, Brother Ali, Kanye West, Lupe Fiasco, De La Soul, Rakim, and Murs were battling for those slots). One of the most interesting things that I noticed during the show however was that my significant other and I were the youngest people at the show, by a lot. Now I’m not complaining at all about the audience, as the show was very relaxed, drinks weren’t being spilled everywhere, and people were pretty respectful (what a concept for a Hip Hop show).What bothered me was the lack of people my age there due to the likelihood of not knowing who these artists were.


Now when one looks at it from a financial perspective, it can be understandable that one would not buy tickets to this Public Enemy tour, as tickets were about the same price as a Big Sean concert, more expensive than a Kendrick Lamar show but less than a Jay-Z or T.I ticket. However, the interaction with the audience, the time taken to interview each other during the show, and the showmanship presented by each and every artist could not be rivaled by any of the artists listed above, which is something that this generation of Hip Hop concert goers is missing on a regular basis.

This may seem a bit elitist of me, but ask yourself how “live” or engaging the artists you have gone to watch in the past year have been energetic every single minute of the show. That’s hard to do, and it’s not to say that there aren’t artists giving their all when they perform (part of the reason why Murs, Brother Ali, and Lupe Fiasco are in my top three discussion is because of how they perform like this).

What is central to this debate is if we as the next generation are going to back up our talk of how we “love” Hip Hop from before our time with our walk to concerts like this that are getting harder and harder to find every year. It is difficult to pay for these things with the way the economy is going, but it is definitely, without a doubt worth it to pick a show like this over newer acts when it comes to seeing one or the other if hypothetically the shows were to be the same night.

Without the dedication, passion, effort, and struggle from artists from the generations of Hip Hop before us, there would not be the artistic and musical freedom that there is today. It’s important to look back at what got us here along with looking ahead into where Hip Hop is going. Have any questions on the first part of this double issue? Comment below to discuss this first portion. Public Enemy: I Shall Not Be Moved


Moving into our second issue of this double issue, it is time for our inaugural Cypher Awards to commence. In 2012, there has been yet again a large outpouring of brilliant music, popular music, and of course unexpected music. Here at Cypher Sessions, because this is our first year we are going to keep our awards section much shorter than other websites. There are plenty of websites that have a “Top 25” of this and “our favorite 10” of that, but the Cypher Awards are much more scaled down, and our simply about recognition for those acts that we believe did not get either enough spotlight, or, for those acts that just simply were above everyone else.

The categories that follow are: The Seven Best Albums of 2012 (including our Album of 2012), The Most Underrated Artist of 2012, The Hardest Working Artist of 2012, The Most Controversial Artist of 2012, The Artist That We Wish We Had Known More About Award, and The Next One Up Award, which will be an artist Cypher Sessions believes will make their mark in the upcoming year (starting with the artist that will do that in 2013). Let’s Begin.

The Seven Best Albums of 2012 are:

7. Blu & Exile: Give Me My Flowers While I Can Still Smell Them

6. Murs & Fashawn: This Generation

5. El-P: Cancer 4 Cure

4. Killer Mike: R.A.P Music

3. Matisyahu: Spark Seeker

2. Brother Ali: Mourning in America and Dreaming in Color

1. Lupe Fiasco: Food & Liquor II: The Great American Rap Album Part 1

Honorable Mentions: The Reminders: Born Champions, Slaughterhouse: Welcome to: Our House,  Kendrick Lamar: Good Kid, M.A.A.D City

The Seven Best Albums were selected by the message that each album presented, as well as the delivery of the message and the lasting impact that each album had. Some of the above were discussed all year, while others were under the radar but were quite good. Lupe Fiasco tops the list because while all seven (as well as the Honorable Mentions) present a tremendous message, Lupe’s does so on another level. There are many who would argue Blu, Killer Mike, Brother Ali, and Kendrick Lamar give Lupe a run for his money, and those are legitimate claims; however, Lupe just had that extra something that took the top spot.

The Most Underrated Artist of 2012: Killer_Mike-

Killer Mike

Killer Mike has never been an artist that has been front and center when it has come to discussing who has been the best of the best; that is because this man has never been one approached by the mainstream. Mike’s delivery, voice, and emphatic message has always been one that has been almost unparalleled, especially when it comes to social commentary (Ali and Fiasco can give him a run for his money). Mike has always been against the structures of our society, and it’s unfortunate for all of those Hip Hop listeners out there who haven’t heard the brilliance of this Atlanta artist.


The Hardest Working Artist of 2012: kendrick lamar

Kendrick Lamar

K-Dot has recorded and performed with a host of artists ranging from his Black Hippy cohort to Dido (who is starting a comeback attempt with her career, in case you didn’t know already). While most would recognize a certain artist with multiple pieces of jewelry as one who has recorded more (this artist will most likely not be discussed on this blog, FYI), Lamar has been steadily working with many artists that range from seasoned veterans to up and comers like he was not too long ago. This artists deserves recognition for his effort (and to appease all of you out there who may be upset with our placement of GKMC in our Best Albums section).

The Most Controversial Artist of 2012: lupe-bitch-bad

Lupe Fiasco

Lupe has always been an artist who has (for the most part) been one to put forth his perspective on societal issues and how we all generally tend to treat them. He often is outspoken and disliked at times for these views, but he hardly ever shies away from these discussions (a lesson further learned with the Lasers situation). He has called the President a terrorist, challenged our usage of the word B***h, and has debated hotly with many, from talk show hosts to other artists. Again, many would claim other artists who say much less and make much more have been more controversial than Lupe, but that is just not true. If there’s any artist with a target on her/his back, it’s Mr. Fiasco.

The Artist We Wish We Had Known More About Award: capital steez

Capital Steez

This award is one that had been the first brainstormed, and after the passing of 19-year old Capital Steez (Jamal Dewar), it was an easy, albeit troubling decision to make. Many are confused as to whether or not this young talent lost his life via his own hands (suicide), or if there was another explanation. Either way, this skilled member of Pro Era had some impressive bars, intriguing beat selections on his Amerikkkan Korruption EP, and obviously had touched the lives of many with his music and presence. This is a posthumous award, and after this year, this award will be known as the Capital Steez Award.

The Next One Up Award: joey-badass

Joey Bada$$

To not be aware of the impact that this young leader of the Pro Era crew has made would be the equivalent of not having been one of the many who were not paying attention to Kendrick Lamar over a year ago. This young emcee from Brooklyn has been gaining more and more support after many have heard various recordings from the young New Yorker.

The most well-acclaimed piece of work that gained Bada$$ notoriety was his classic-sounding mixtape, 1999. While we are not as of yet doing a Mixtape of the Year category as this writer has not listened to anywhere near enough mixtapes to make that decision, 1999 would be the mixtape of 2012 if we had the category. Pay attention to Joey in 2013, as this leader of the renaissance of New York Hip Hop (along with Action Bronson) will be making noise for years to come.

Well, that does it for this last, double issue of Cypher Sessions. 2012 has been quite a year, and I would just like to thank everyone who has been reading Cypher Sessions from the beginning. For all of you who have joined along the way, I also want to thank you for checking us out, and we hope that you spread the news of Cypher Sessions to other Hip Hop and music fans you know.

Big shout outs to Honors English, Kev Turner, Unk Funk, Big Samir & Aja Black of The Reminders, PhuturePhil, Kaj Kadence, ETC Musik, and all the other artists who have interacted with me, given me feedback, and/or have just shared Cypher Sessions with their followers. Many Thanks as well to Olivia Robles and Esteban Hernandez for always sharing my stuff and supporting online quite a bit. Thank you I Live Hip Hop fam for inspiring me to start blogging, and being supportive as well. To all of you who have read, shared, interacted, and liked Cypher Sessions, I appreciate it and I hope to continue to hear from you.

May the end of your 2012 go well, and may the beginning of 2013 be a fantastic one. Happy New Year, and until next time (in early January!) Peace.


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