UPC brings rap to UNT with cypher in Library Mall

UPC brings rap to UNT with cypher in Library Mall

UPC brings rap to UNT with cypher in Library Mall
February 27
18:50 2018

At 7 p.m. on Monday, UNT’s Library Mall was relatively quiet. The sun had gone down, and the flock of people who usually congregate around Willis library had gone their separate ways. The only people passing through seemed to be on their way to study with a caffeinated drink in hand.

Just an hour later when UPC members arrived with a DJ and sound system, the deserted Library Mall came alive with a little help from a thing called rap.

The flood of students who had arrived to the sound of beats from both classic hip-hop songs and remixes were encouraged to crowd together as the first three rappers delivered verses about everything from student loans to personal relationships.

Clarissa Medrano, UPC’s live music coordinator, proposed the idea of hosting a cypher after noticing that the music on campus was all of a similar genre.

“A lot of the influences that we have here are primarily indie; [there’s] more of a rock feel here in Denton,” Medrano said. “I wanted to implement some newer things, some more diverse music. Doing a cypher was definitely different than just having an indie band.”

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Entrepreneurship junior Albert Harris raps at a rap cypher hosted by the University Program Council on Feb. 26 at the Library Mall. Sara Carpenter

Rapper and UNT sophomore Alejandro Cervantes engaged the audience by asking people to suggest words for him to rap about, resulting in verses about everything from biscuits to soap.

“Rapping has always been something I just did for fun,” Cervantes said. “We’d be at the library and instead of actually studying we’d start making a beat, and I would just start spitting.”

The size of the tightly packed circle grew as the rappers traded the microphone back and forth. Some people in the audience were familiar with the music and ritual-like event of the cypher and freely danced and cheered on the rappers. Others who were experiencing it for the first time either stood completely still or steadily bobbed their heads to the music while taking it all in.

Among the crowd was freshman Selena Coronado who considers herself a fan of rap, but had never had the opportunity to attend a cypher before this.

“I like it,” Coronado said. “It’s really lively; really loud. People seem to be enjoying it.” 

At one point, the sound cuts off for a about a minute, threatening to bring silence back to the now exuberant library mall. However, it’s not long before the instrumentals of Jay Z and Kanye West’s “Otis” picks up where it left off, and so did the cypher.

Despite being the first live cypher she rapped in, one of the participating rappers who goes by the stage name Qween X Fenti, was immediately at home 

“I’ve been rapping since I was small but only been taking it seriously for the past year,” Qween X Fenti said.

While Fenti doesn’t plan to pursue a rap career, she doesn’t intend to stop anytime soon. 

“I believe hobbies are something you really want to do for the rest of your life,” she said. “So for me, hip-hop and rap is a hobby, but I want to hold onto it forever.”

Medrano hopes to present another cypher with UPC next semester, but the possibility of that happening rests mostly in the hands of those that attended on Monday.

“If we have a good turnout and if people enjoy this, then I will definitely propose it for next semester,” Medrano said.

Given the size of the crowd and the high level of energy, the possibility of another cypher at UNT might not be ruled out. In fact, the cypher brought people together and even turned some of the bystanders into hip-hop stars for at least a few minutes. 

Featured Image: Entrepreneurship junior Albert Harris raps at a rap cypher hosted by the University Program Council on Feb. 26 at the Library Mall. Sara Carpenter

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Nikki Johnson-Bolden

Nikki Johnson-Bolden

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