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To watch video of the #12for12 Cypher Click Here!
Boston is a beautiful city with rich, historical roots and a thriving artistic culture, from the symphony to the theatre district to the numerous museums, but the one thing it isn’t known for is having a prevalent hip-hop scene. But that’s all about to change thanks to #12for12, a movement focused on revitalizing and redefining the hip-hop culture in Boston. WERS was lucky enough to welcome this lively group late on Tuesday evening and it was difficult to say which was more overwhelming: the number of physical bodies crowded into the studio, or the abundance of personality each individual exuded. The enthusiasm was contagious and it was immediately clear that the energy was shared by both the rappers and the three men behind the #12for12 movement, Tim Larew, Blair Lineham, and Guillermo Antonini. Building the hip-hop scene from the ground up in the city is a large responsibility but if there’s anyone who can shoulder the task, it’s the members of the #12for12 movement.
Larew explained how the project got started after he created his blog two summers ago, an event that led him to be exposed to a greater volume of hip-hop music. Upon his return to Boston, he realized just how lacking that scene was in the city and set out to find a way to change that. Larew said that he began to get involved with local artists, and said, “I started to make personal connections with a few of them; I started off just by posting their music, and then I realized I could have a hand in helping their careers and sort of building a local scene.”
Definitely an eclectic mixture of talent, the artists of #12for12, made up of Alage, Avenue, Bigg Dee, Black EL, Caliph, Charmingly Ghetto, D-Note, Dutch Rebelle, Moe Pope, Natural, Reem, and Soupa, each brought their own flavor to the cypher. Rapping over an original beat by Teddy Roxpin, the men went one-by-one and took their opportunity to shine at the mic as the rest stood back and nodded their heads in a natural synchronization, basking in the free-style flowing through the studio. Soupa, the first artist to perform that mix, had an anchored, relaxed presence, his words strong but his body remained relatively still as he spoke, while another who followed him, Caliph, punctuated each word with a gesture, a whirlwind of movement. The styles were vastly different but were connected by a major common ground: the raw talent possessed by both members.
But finding that talent isn’t easy, particularly in Boston.
“We started going through people’s music and going to shows, just doing a lot of work in the local movement scene,” said Larew. He mentioned how a goal of their movement is to get more venues and opportunities for hip-hop artists because the current facilities are over-populated. “It’s hard to read out the actual talent because it’s all these kids going to one place to perform, so you get six or seven openers on every show, and within every couple of shows maybe you’ll get one talented artist, so it’s really hard to weed out who’s moving forward.”
The performers in #12for12 are doing just that. After a majority of the men standing in the studio had had their chance to perform, D-Note stepped up to the microphone and put his own spin on things, telling the studio engineer to cut the beat and launching into an a cappella rap, one of the most intense freestyles of the evening. “No sleep, I’ll catch up at the cemetery,” he said into the microphone, his voice raw and the words especially captivating without the backing beat.
Despite the difference in his delivery than the others that evening, the contrasting styles and personalities of the rappers within this movement help to strengthen the cause. They are a diverse grouping of artists rather than insisting that hip-hop fit only a specific niche, and this creativity and openness is imperative in taking on the task that they are in trying to redefine the hip-hop here. There are undoubtedly exciting things ahead for #12for12 and, as a result, the hip-hop scene in Boston.