Professionally, he’s known as “HighTyde” and his alter ego, Ryan Evans, wishes he had a better story for how he came up with the name.
“I was watching the Discovery Channel one day and I just heard how the announcer said ‘high tide’ ” Evans said. “It was like ‘high tide’ and I thought that was pretty cool.” He smiles. “That’s about it,” he said.
But that’s not it, at least if Evans has anything to say about it.
He’s 33 years old and admits his days as a hip-hop performer may be coming to an end. He grew up on a farm in Homer, he studied graphic design at Kellogg Community College, his dad is a retired farmer, his mom is a nurse and he has a job he loves at FireKeepers Casino. Not exactly a typical resume for a hip-hop performer. Then again, that’s Evans’ message. The self-professed lover of all types of music has been involved in hip hop for more than 15 years. His background includes the recording of several records and his triumph last year in the inaugural Midwest Music Challenge held in Battle Creek. It’s music he loves and he wants others to, if not love it, at least understand it.
“Hip hop has a negative connotation,” he said. “It’s guns and violence and drugs. My goal is to take it out of the negative light. It can build instead of tear down.”
To that end, he has taken on the duties of creator, founder, host and headliner for a hip-hop event May 16 called Project Cypher 2 at The Warehouse performance venue in Battle Creek. It will feature a lot of music, to be sure, but Evans said it will be more than that. It also will be a benefit to help Carter Buffum, a 6-year-old boy from Jackson who is suffering from Mitochondrial Disease, leaving him unable to walk or talk. It is Evans’ second foray into charity work after he took part in a benefit last year for Battle Creek 4-year-old Christian Schenkel, whose mom Brandie was trying to raise money so she could purchase a therapy dog to help Christian contain his seizures. Evans was hooked after that.
“It really starts on an emotional level,” he said. “Carter’s a medical mystery and I wanted to help. It touched my heart.”
Evans contacted Scott Paige, executive director of Brighter Days Ahead, a nonprofit group that put together the Schenkel benefit, and asked for a project he could dive into.
“I told him I had a perfect family for him,” Paige said.
After getting the OK from Josh and Sierra Buffum, Carter’s parents, Evans has taken it from there.
“Any kind of benefit, he doesn’t even think about it,” Paige said. “You ask him and he says, ‘I’m in.’ He’s always right there.”
But this one’s different since Evans is basically handling all aspects of the performance. He contacted his friends in the hip-hop community and all agreed to perform for free. And while each will perform on their own, the evening will conclude with all of them doing what Evans calls a “cypher,” where they all perform at once, using lyrics they make up on the spot. Evans believes this kind of event is exactly what the local hip-hop scene needs.
“The local hip-hop scene doesn’t really have any leaders,” he said. “Nobody’s taking charge. I feel the scene is kind of struggling to be heard. I just want to expand the community.”
He sees benefits like this as just the start and he’s already committed to performing at a benefit 5K run in August.
I was looking at what I wanted out of life and this is it,” he said. “I want everyone to be part of a bigger goal. It’s a pay-it-forward situation for me.”
Call Chuck Carlson at 966-0690. Follow him on Twitter: @ChuckCarlson4
If you go
WHAT: Project Cypher 2 concert fundraiser for Carter Buffum, 6, who has Mitochondrial Disease.
WHEN: Saturday, May 16 starting at 8 p.m.
WHERE: The Warehouse performance venue, 1299 E. Columbia Ave.
MORE INFO: Performers scheduled to take part are Erika Scherry, Gerald “G-Ride” King, A.C. 3, Griffin, Saint with special guests La Famil, T-Gillz, HighTyde, Beanzarelly, Ckyttlez and others.
Cost is $5. For more information, call 269-979-9273.