Though the improvisational nature of freestyle rapping prevents any true agenda for the cypher, Katz and Rowsey hope the cypher will provide students and observers with an approachable alternative method of dialogue to discuss difficult racial issues related to Silent Sam.
While Rowsey and company will lead the cypher, participation from the crowd is encouraged. Ultimately, Rowsey said he hopes to provide frustrated students a safe place and a musical channel for their emotions that allows them to speak their mind.
“I think it will bring light to how people actually feel. I think a lot of people who feel affected by the Silent Sam statue, what’s been going on nationally and on college campuses across the United States, don’t feel safe at this time,” Rowsey said.
“I think the cypher gives people a safe space to express any hurt, negative feelings they have in a productive way.”
This ideology — that hip-hop can provide a voice to the voiceless — pervades the cypher mentality and reflects the socially influential nature of hip-hop and rap music. As the Black Lives Matter movement combats issues such as racial inequality and police brutality, socially conscious rap artists like Kendrick Lamar and J. Cole have lent their support, speaking out against these injustices in a culturally attractive medium.
Watching Rowsey freestyle in the Pit Tuesday afternoon to promote the Silent Sam Cypher, first-year Pk Krentsil said the merging of hip-hop and social activism sounded like a familiar tune to longtime fans.
“Hip-hop has always been political, especially since groups like Public Enemy and N.W.A. broke out. It’s like history repeating itself,” Krentsil said.