At Cypher at the Hostel downtown, local producers drop beats while hip-hop artists show young world travelers how to rap.
The aggro spirit present in many rap lyrics bubbled up when an impromptu curbside verbal battle between two local crews got physical outside the Tower Bar in May of 2013.
Don’t expect any inter-artist aggression Sunday at Park & Wreck Collective's monthly Cypher at the Hostel.
Local producers are hired to showcase their music tracks during the four-hour session, while local rappers and hostel guests from around the world “cypher” or rap over those tracks as the mic is passed around in a circle.
Hostelling International's downtown San Diego location
“Not only does it provide local hip-hop artists a place to practice, it also gives our international guests a glimpse into our culture they may otherwise have trouble breaking into,” says Joseh Acuna, the hostel’s activities director. “Our mission is to promote cultural understanding through travel.”
The hostel guests, who must be from other countries and who spend about $35 a night to stay at the 150-bed hostel, often join in the circle.
“We’ve been fortunate to have our guests rap in German, Korean, Japanese, Spanish, and Portuguese,” says Acuna.
The night is organized by local production company Parks & Wreck Collective, which has also promoted hip-hop events at the Hideout.
“People were impressed that something like this happens at a hostel as opposed to a venue,” says Park & Wreck’s Chris “Tek” Perry, who is a producer, DJ, and rapper. “I want to showcase local music producers who may not have been heard before.” Perry says the producers are handpicked, while the rappers just show up.
Local producers like Gabo Nano, SP da Ill Kid, and Bonita Basics have provided tracks. He says most of the rappers who participate are locals like Rick Scales, JIDS, 18 Cents, and Dre Trav.
“Some people have their rhymes prepared,” Perry says. “Most people free-style.”
He notes this Sunday’s event will be the first Cypher at the Hostel session since the election.
“All topics are on the table,” says Perry who says there was a lot of anti-Trump spitting before the election and he expects more on Sunday. “The consensus has been ‘fuck Trump,’” says Perry’s business partner Fito Gomez about previous blurted Cypher raps.
Cypher at the Hostel is 6 to 10 p.m., the first Sunday of each month at Hostelling International, 521 Market Street. Free admission, all ages.
“When we started this two years ago there were 30 people a night,” Perry explains. “Now it’s like 70 to 100.”