Concert Recap: Project Cypher 2

HighTyde was in for a big surprise, and was there to see it. The indie hip-hop star’s 2nd annual charity/unity concert, Project Cypher 2, was close to getting underway at The Warehouse in Battle Creek, MI on May 16. Proceeds from the event benefit Carter Buffum, a 6-year-old suffering from Mitochondrial Disease. There is currently no cure for the cellular disorder, which has left the boy without ability to speak or walk.

Carter had recently been comatose due to related issues, and at last word was awake but still hospitalized. His aunt was at The Warehouse on his and his parents’ behalf. While standing outside the venue going over last minute details, HighTyde noticed Carter and his parents approaching us from nearby parking area. No one, including his aunt, expected their attendance. The guests of honor entered the building to a standing ovation.

“Turning and watching Carter and his mother, and his father, walking toward me,” HighTyde says, “was quite possibly better than anything I experienced in the building all night!”

And what happened inside was outstanding. After receiving glowing local, regional, and national press, not to mention a ton of positive word-of-mouth hype, Project Cypher 2 was a night of great music by skilled artists in an atmosphere of spirited giving. HighTyde says the night exceeded his expectations. “I came in with the idea to do a charity and bring awareness, to raise money for a little boy and his family, and there was so much excitement. The buildup was crazy! I don’t think there’s any way I’d have been let down.”

HighTyde didn’t let down the faithful with his set. With DJ FX behind the music, producer/DJ Prezidential Poe in his corner, and featuring fellow spitter Nemoniq and singer Erika Sherry, he got the crowd moving with favorites “Make It,” “Believer,” “Get Up To Get Down,” and “Welcome to Cereal City,” Let’s be clear, though; the night was not about him, and HighTyde made sure it was known. “I’m not better than anyone else out there,” he says. “I’m not trying to be better, I don’t want to be better. I’m trying to earn respect for hip-hop, and show this culture does positive things too.”

A native of Battle Creek, HighTyde gathered together some of the top independent hip-hop artists in the Midwest region to make his hometown and the Buffum family proud. K3vlar Kruz, T-Grillz, Gerald “G-Ride” King, A.C.3. The Artist, Nemoniq (with an assist from Ckyttlez), and duo Sick Daze gave standout performances. Headliners Griffin, Rook Roca, and SEA-winning living legend Tye Ramos, aka Latino Saint (originally from Battle Creek), each added their acclaimed heat to a well-established blaze.

“I was so impressed with everyone,” HighTyde says. “Sick Daze was just mind-blowingly awesome, as they were at last year’s Cypher. They killed the stage. I wanted to work with Griffin for so long, and this was the first time we could match schedules and do this. Having someone like Saint say ‘Yeah, I’ll come all the way up from Tennessee to do this because I respect what you’re doing’. To see Rook and Erika and everyone come together is beautiful!”

On the way to The Warehouse for Cypher, held a conversation with hip-hop legend Big Daddy Kane, describing to him the pending event. No stranger to giving back, having been part of charity events Hip Hop World Series, HERO 2 HERO, and also Positive Seeds in his own native Brooklyn, Kane offered insight on the importance of hip-hop representing for something greater. “Hip-hop is the music of the youth, so the younger generation really respects hip-hop music and the artists who present it,” Kane says. “For artists to be positive roles models, and give back to the community, be the voice of many different situations – hard times or whatever the case me be, I think all of that is very important.”

Kane says the right person has to be the representative. HighTyde has accepted, and shared, the role.

“Going into [Project Cypher], it’s always a ‘pay it forward’ situation for me,” HighTyde says. “I never go into any event thinking it’s about me. This isn’t a HighTyde show; this is Project Cypher. This is a group of people, this is a community of artists here to do something for other people. We’re not here to get money or to get famous, we’re here because we’re trying to do something good for the community. That’s hip-hop!”

Project Cypher 3 has already been announced, returning to The Warehouse May 14, 2016.

“Project Cypher is my baby, and I now have two under my belt,” HighTyde says. “All I can do is keep learning from this and asking, ‘What can I do better?’ What can I keep doing? How can I push this even further? Where can I take it? It’s trying to reach you goals, and exceed them a little bit more every time.”

For more on HighTyde, Project Cypher, plus how and where to donate, visit Download the album HighTyde Live at HighTyde Presents…Project Cypher 2 for free.

—Mr. Joe Walker

Known as “The Word Heavyweight Champion”, Mr. Joe Walker is a biographer, author, entertainment journalist and columnist, currently a senior writer for, staff writer for Muskegon Tribune Newspaper, and consultant/writer for Liquid Arts & Entertainment’s Also co-creator of, Walker’s acclaimed, award-winning work has been published thousands of times regionally, nationally, internationally, and online. Follow him on Twitter @mrjoewalker, connect with him on Facebook, and also visit his blog