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Artist of the Month: CYNE 'Cultivating Your New Experience'
Akin wrote:'I'm passing Gods conception approaching near the land deception adjust the mirror
in my rearview i see reflection
at times my highways lead to bleak direction so i seek confession speaking to beats
i call it resurrection cuz i got my soul back...'
Gainesville, Florida. 2003, a hip hop group named CYNE (Cultivating Your New Experience) release an album entitled 'Time Being'. An album that will lay the foundations for one of hip hop's most timeless groups of the past decade.
Based around two producers and emcee's, CYNE are a hip hop group with foundations of knowledge (in the form of Cise Starr and Akin) and depths of soul (in Producers Enoch and Speck). A mix that is rare in the hip hop scene and most definitely missed. Sure, one could refer to the CunninLynguists or take it back to the Tribe Called Quest days, but in the modern era, a group with introspective rhymes that ask questions of faith and life are few and far between; even in the moments when we share an ear with emcee's such as this, they are usually backed with boring monotonous beats, ruining the emcee's shine and resulting in an album that's barely listenable.
However, CYNE are the opposite to this, they are made up of two talented producers who make soulful landscapes that fit emcee's Cise Starr and Akin like a cape fits Batman. The result is something poetic and brilliant, hard to find yet totally worth the wait. Six releases later and CYNE are an Independent Group with a following of sorts, the unsung heroes if you like, in an otherwise appreciated community.
Time Being (2003)
Following two 12" releases, CYNE stepped up with their debut LP, Time Being. Experimental, at times funky but always uplifting, CYNE's debut showcases the groups strengths. The beat choices are varied and at times, distracting but each track hits hard all the same. One standout in particular samples Nas discussing his purpose in life, before one of the most tranquil beats of the 00's kicks in... if rain ever made a beat, it's this.
Cise Starr wrote:I was a child of the 80s, growin up in the 90s
A small black child of power you couldn't find me
Because I shyly, would hide away from the faces
They used to look me in the face, Baby you'll make it
And told me to stand strong, because you're gonna be
Gone beyond the darkest sunshine hard
A new day
So I pray I'm gonn make em right I fight for life and make sure my lifes right
I stand strong on my own two
SO what you gonna do? I hold you
In the web of my speech and mold you
Into my past cuz this verse is a looking glass
Silk past the evil, and serve my people
A timeless track in every way, Cise Starr begins to question life, a Mother's passing and the forming of CYNE with clarity. The questions begin to set the motion in place for what this writer sees as their best LP, Evolution Fight.
Time Being Standouts:
Evolution Fight (2005)
If Time Being was CYNE biding their time, they wasted no time returning with direct rhymes that questioned life, critiqued society and above all, delivered hip hop that made you press rewind - the best kind. From '🤬 America' to 'Growing', CYNE were walking a new line of life during 2005 and it shows with this album as they proceed to uplift:
Cise Starr wrote:As days go by my world get colder
I'm older, experience got my heart bolder
Hold up, better days ahead that's what I hope fa
There's beauty in the eyes of the beholder
I told ya...
Although the first half of the album starts off pretty much hit and miss, the second half of the album hits with a barrage that would forgive a new ear for mistaking the album as a Greatest Hits. Outstanding record after outstanding record, the creative beats switch to conscious questioning of 🤬 's presence at the switch of a track. Moments of questioning 'the meaning of life' are ever present, as are moments of heaven and the re-uniting of loved ones. It's with this deeply personal tone and incredible music backdrop that CYNE create a soundtrack to your life. This is real hip hop in the same vein as it's real music, something we can feel in our every day lives and something we can relate to. Whether it's the Arrow of 🤬 that's set to strike you or if you're flowing like an autobot in Automation, Evolution Fight has something for every mood, yet still sounds seamless. A far cry from flawless, yet you could be forgiven for stating it as perfect.
Evolution Fight Standouts
Starship Utopia (2008)
Following a great album such as Evolution Fight is always a difficult task, but in 2008 CYNE decided to drop two albums, instead of one. First starting with their Japan only release, Starship Utopia, which can be described as futuristic electronic music with a message. A move from the left side, maybe; but nonetheless a strong release that fits well in relation to their catalog. Unfortunately, this album only runs in at 30 minutes and has one true standout track in the opinion of this author; the album-titled track sounds inspired by Del and his 3030 project as the duo describe a new world and the Solar System in fast pace 'zooming to the rapture, watch out for image capture' over a mesmeric beat from the underrated Enoch and Speck.
Starship Utopia Standout:
Pretty Dark Things (2008)
CYNE's second LP of 2008, Pretty Dark Things, was stated to be released in the same year due to their extensive work in the studio. No doubt the quality of music that was produced hand in hand with Enoch and Speck alongside the Ghanian-originated emcee's had something to do with it and this is evident here. Continuing with their uplifting rhymes of choice, intelligence and knowledge, whilst never straying away from politically fuelled rhymes ("Now we all caught in police state/ do you want to escape or pray?"), CYNE continued to show that no sound was their own, forever experimenting with loops, beats and rhymes. One standout, 'Elephant Rome' loops a fantastic guitar riff alongside electronic sounds that brings the best out of the emcee's who rhyme on a mesmerising level... 'The ice glass prism in the sun that blinds others, the serpent in the rainbow, he bright like day glow, colours within the black light...' A solid release that towers above Starship Utopia due to its length in particular.
Pretty Dark Things Standouts:
Water for Mars (2009)
Following up their duo-album year of 2008, CYNE stepped back into the studio to release their latest release (as of this writing), Water for Mars. With 2009, it was clear that CYNE was ready to 'get it on, this year' and 'find liberty and equality for all, this year.' This Year being the album opener and arguable standout of Water for Mars alongside The Jux, which re-sights a college black kid falling for 'the (white) devil' and making her pregnant whilst in college. The script flips when the middle class black kid is dropped by the white girl due to her families opinions with regards to their relationships and pending abortion... a great story-telling track...
Water For Mars Standouts:
Overall, CYNE have crafted a soundscape that has pleased many. They understand how to uplift and they definitely question life to the fullest, which, in turn, broadens the horizons of the listener. If you like soulful beats, dope emcee's and a question to ponder, then look no further than CYNE. A great group, undiscovered by many, but treasured by all (in the know). As one draws to a close, it should also be mentioned that CYNE have generated a following in Japan as well as the States, working with the late Nujabes and arguably blessing one of Nujabes greatest tracks, Feather. As I close out, breathe in, the soulful sounds of Nujabes blessed with the rhymes of Cise Starr and Akin:
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