The Cypher: AllNat Prelo white productions

That Time I Caught Brooklyn Breathing

I’m not sure where you’re from but if you’re from Brooklyn you know what a Cypher is. You know that it’s an everyday stoop thing. It was something that was inevitable. If a bottle, a roll up, and a group of aspiring rappers were all in front of the same building, it was going down. The Cypher was the one thing that could bring everyone together even if you weren’t the most liked on the block. I remember growing up being the only girl and only singer in the huddle. Being the real live hook to the made up songs we never remembered after that night was my job and I did it well. I was the harmony that brought soul to the grit and it was by far my favorite pass time.

I remember a couple of songs my homeboys and I created. Those were the one hit wonders for the hood that made everyone remember you. To this day a couple of my childhood friends would ask me about a song I wrote. I used to write a lot. I’d bring ripped out notebook pages to my boys as if we were actually going to the studio to record. But we weren’t. We were in a hallway, on a stoop, or in someone’s crib.

When we grew up we became adults, the Cypher was something the kids did. We were too old for it. When the next generation did it we sat back and smiled as we watched history repeat itself. Sometimes watching it take someone out of the 'hood. When we listened to the kids, we’d tap each other on the arm and try to remember lyrics to that one hit wonder. “Ayo, you remember when…”. We never could remember all the words though but we knew exactly what each other were talking about. That's because the Cypher was the embodiment of Brooklyn nostalgia. It was a Brooklyn blocks heartbeat. It always seemed to happen at the right moment at the right time.

The right moment and the right time was what happened when I went to see AllNat perform. They were at this underground joint in Bushwick. I went to film them to get raw footage to promote the upcoming art battle I'm hosting in February. To be honest I didn't even want to go out but Amanda thought it was a good idea. Frankly, it was good business for LUXYLOADED. After the band performed everyone went outside to chill. Standing outside I noticed a huddle forming. I immediately turned on my camera and started to record. I’m so glad I did. It was such a dynamic performance between everybody involved. It had everything a cypher could have to be great. The real rappers, the jokester, the one girl who thinks every bar is fire, and the one who controlled the hot ass beats. It was perfect. Only this time I wasn’t in the huddle. I just watched it. I was okay with that. I needed to see it. I needed to see it again.

Brooklyn hasn’t been the same after all the gentrification and newcomers. That night made me forget, for a brief 5 minutes, that Brooklyn wasn't the same. I was reminded of what home used to be. This time I got to capture it. I got to capture a memory that I won’t be able to forget. I caught nostalgia. I caught Brooklyn breathing.

Created By
Prelo White


Created with images by Franck_Michel - "New York facets - York Street" • kevin dooley - "Urban" • Ryan Vaarsi - "In passing, Front St., DUMBO, Brooklyn" • Rob de Vries, - "untitled image" • kevin dooley - "Diana does Brooklyn" • schaerfsystem - "new york brooklyn usa" • Unsplash - "brooklyn bridge cables pylon" • Activedia - "escalator metro stairs"

Made with Adobe Slate

Make your words and images move.

Get Slate

Report Abuse

If you feel that this video content violates the Adobe Terms of Use, you may report this content by filling out this quick form.

To report a Copyright Violation, please follow Section 17 in the Terms of Use.