Legendary Cyphers Bring Hip-Hop Back to Union Square Park

Eddie Soto
MC Elijah Black Freestyling at Legendary Cyphers
"Hip-hop was set out in the dark/ They used to do it out in the park" begins MC Shan's classic rap track "The Bridge." But while the almost 30-year-old track refers to rap's park days in the past tense, hip-hop in the park is more alive than ever thanks to Legendary Cyphers.

Started in August, 2013, Legendary Cyphers has quickly become one of New York's most beloved hip-hop institutions. Every Friday from 8 p.m. - Midnight, Union Square park comes alive with beats and rhymes as rappers take turns exchanging lyrics back-and-forth. With crowds typically reaching numbers in the hundreds, the free weekly all-ages event has drawn a mix of rap scene regulars as well as curious visitors who want to see what all the hip-hop hubbub is about.

We spoke to two of Legendary Cyphers co-founders, rapper/host Majesty and videographer Dayv "Mental" Cino about how Legendary Cyphers came to be.

See also: The 10 Best Male Rappers of All Time

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1984: A Great Year for Hip-Hop

Rap's First Album.
We've just passed the half-way point of 2014 and, and if you've followed the hip-hop newswire with even a passing curiosity, you're probably already up to your medulla oblongata in "20th Anniversary" retrospectives. That's not to say 1994 wasn't an incredible year, but the high praise it's been getting has somewhat overshadowed another important milestone a mere 10 years prior. We're correcting this error right here and now with Hip-Hop's 30th Anniversaries that deserve recognition.

See also: The 10 Best Male Rappers of All Time

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Top 5 Michael McDonald Samples of All Time

DBKing via Wikimedia Commons
Michael McDonald, helping you regulate for over 40 years.
Tonight, June 26th, the great Michael McDonald plays Town Hall. An artist whose music has been as emotive as it has been inspirational, his smooth funk has even lent itself to be the centerpiece of some all time hip-hop classics. Given that these classics never go out of style, we've combed through the times his work with both The Doobie Brothers and his solo career has been sampled to put together the top five Michael McDonald samples of all time.

See also: Michael McDonald: Mystery White Boy

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"Several Crates" of Afrika Bambaataa's Record Collection Are Going on Sale

Last summer, the good folks at Boo-Hooray and Gavin Brown's Enterprise held an open archiving of Afrika Bambaataa's 40,000 deep record collection prior to its delivery to Cornell University's vast Hip Hop Collection (CHHC), the largest archive of hip-hop materials in the world, spanning over four decades and over 200,000 objects. Remember? We told you all about it. Well, the sorting and tagging is done, and next week the coolest parts of it will be on exhibit at Gavin Brown's. And, oh yeah, "several crates" of Afrika Bambaataa's incredible record collection will be made available for purchase to the public.

See also: Finding Hip-Hop's Beginning in Afrika Bambaataa's 40,000-Deep Record Collection

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Sage Francis' Copper Gone Sees Him Back on His D.I.Y. Grind

Sage Francis
Friday, May 30th, Sage Francis plays Le Poisson Rouge as one of the first dates of his new tour promoting Copper Gone, his first album in four years, due out June 3rd. A lot's changed since his last go-round, having said his June 2010 NYC show at the end of his last album Li(f)e's tour was going to be the last performance of the last tour he would ever do. Since then, the underground hip-hop world has flipped several times over, as has Sage's world. Having experiences everywhere from working with HIV-Positive orphans in Africa to maintaining a longtime home as it begins to fall apart while tending to a sick cat, he's seen a lot since we last heard from him. We spoke to Sage about the new album, how the indie hip-hop grind has changed and his issues with those who've attempted a, in his words, "radio friendly version" of his particular hip-hop stylings.

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Five No Limit Albums Better Than Memorial Day

No Limit
Full Blooded on Memorial Day

Memorial Day in America is the day we remember those who gave their lives for this country protecting our freedom. It has also signified the unofficial start of summer with the first outdoor get-togethers of the season. There's plenty of albums that wind up in the Memorial Day playlist shuffle, one of which is the No Limit Records album Memorial Day by Full Blooded. While its red-plastic case and memorable pen-n-pixel cover art is unforgettable, Mr. Blooded's record isn't often included in the upper echelon of No Limit releases. It is with the hopes that your Memorial Day was as bout it, bout it as possible that we present to you Five No Limit Albums Better than Full Blooded's Memorial Day.

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10 Hip-Hop Facts You Likely Didn't Know

Bryan Scheiner
TheBeeShine's Bryan Scheiner with Prince Paul
There are hip-hop interview archives, and then there's TheBeeShine. Launched by Jersey native Bryan Scheiner in summer 2010, it's since blossomed into one of the largest collection of hip-hop video interviews on the planet. Boasting over 1,600 interviews, Scheiner's disarming style has allowed for one-of-a-kind revealing conversations with artists in all facets of hip-hop, even including icons as exposed as Redman and DJ Premier.

We spoke to Scheiner about what inspired the site, and got his 10 most surprising facts he's ever discovered from his interviews.

See also: How Not to Run an Indie Rap Label

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Hot 97 Summer Jam & Brooklyn Hip-Hop Festival: Which is Right For You?

Manny Faces
Redman at the Brooklyn Hip-Hop Festival
"Hip-hop was set out in the dark/ They used to do it out in the park" begins MC Shan's classic 1986 single "The Bridge." Yes, it was a mere 30 years ago that the biggest hip-hop events of the year would go down in New York public parks and block parties. Fast forward a few decades and the neighborhood has become worldwide, including every major venue in the world. New York City is the birthplace of hip-hop, and, naturally, two annual events that the mainstream and the underground gravitate towards: Hot 97's Summer Jam and the Brooklyn Hip-Hop Festival. Both known for storied histories, legendary moments and capturing the hip-hop climate, the just-released schedule for both 2014 events look to be no different. But if you're on the fence, we'll help you decide which hip-hop jumpoff is right for you.

See also: The Top 20 NYC Rap Albums of All Time

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The Lesson: An Open Jam For New York Hip-Hop

Lenny and Phase One of The Lesson
Thursdays at Arlene's Grocery have become a hotbed for New York City hip-hop. Gentei Kaijo presents The Lesson, an open-jam that has not only been drawing love and support from five boroughs worth of rappers, but musicians of all sorts have flocked to become part of the movement. Capturing the community vibe in a way that's become increasingly more challenging amongst the ever changing and more expensive Manhattan music climate, it's allowed a true sense of family that fits anyone's budget perfectly (it's free!). We spoke to host Phase One and mastermind Lenny the Ox, who considers the entire band and the audience just as important to The Lesson's now two-year long legacy as he is, about why the night has been so able to connect with listeners and has truly become The Lesson of the day.

See also: The 10 Best Male Rappers of All Time

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The Five Most Bizarre Rap Songs From Fictional Characters

YouTube Screen Capture
Cookie Monster, Tougher Than Leather
Last week, we reminded you that Jay-Z once wrote an entire song for Bugs Bunny. Along with being the perfect way to close the immortal Space Jam soundtrack, it's also one of the rare rap songs from someone who doesn't exist. In a genre obsessed with "keeping it real," there have been a handful of records that slipped through the cracks where the person rocking the mic isn't real in the most literal sense of the word. From cats to bunnies to muppets, here's the five most bizarre rap songs from fictional characters.

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