It’s An Infinite Cycle Interviews… Cyrano
I’m glad that I got a chance to interview Cyrano because there are a couple of things that you and I wouldn’t have caught just by listening to his music. In this interview, he goes into detail about some of his past, present and future projects as well as gaining connections through websites, including It’s An Infinite Cycle.
Who is Cyrano?
Cyrano de Bergerac is the main character in a play by Edmond Rostand. He was a multi-talented dude, from dueling to writing, etc. And he was well-versed with women, but his “achilles heel” was self-doubt because of his big nose. Because of this, he never stepped up and approached the woman he loved. He gave another man the words and sentiments to woo her and win her heart.
How did you gain “Cyrano” as a stage name?
Well, I started rapping around 1996-97, just putting together freestyles under the names Potential Untapped, Jimmy Ca$h, and some others I’d rather forget. Then, Black Star dropped “Definition” in 98. This song was (and still is) one of my favorite collabo joints EVER! If u go back and listen, Talib drops the science on my “nom de plume” near the end:
People follow me and other cats they hear him flow
And assume I’m the real one with lyrics like I’m Cyrano
After that, it was a wrap. Cyrano the emcee was born.
Describe the music scene in North Carolina.
The music scene in North Carolina can best be described as hodge-podge. Just a broad mix of rock-n-roll/alternative, jazz, HipHop, rap & country music lovers bouncing off each other, creating music that they like. From the HipHop standpoint, we are the bottom of the Underground barrel so to speak. Underground HipHop doesnt get its due in most places, but here it’s EXTREMELY underrepresented and respected (in my opinion).
Who and/or what influences you and your music?
Truthfully, all the influences I just listed. Rock, Alternative, Jazz, even Country. I grew up listening to and appreciating all types of music. At different stages in my life, I was drawn to specific genres. But overall, HipHop influenced me the most. My HipHop influences were broad too. From lyrical emcees Rakim, KRS-One, Big Daddy Kane, & Common to fun-loving rappers Kid-N-Play, Heavy D & Kwame. Groups from West-coast’s Pharcyde and NWA to East Coast’s Public Enemy, ATCQ, Brand Nubian, De La Soul & Digable Planets.
How is your music different from anyone else’s music?
Lyrically, nobody sees words like I see them, so nobody blends words and phrases like I do. In school, cats used to pick on me and call me “encyclopedia man” cuz I always used big, complex words. And I actually did READ the encyclopedias and dictionaries when I was young. I always loved words, and what they can do if u put them together carefully and correctly. But besides the lyrical creativity that I bring, you also dont get the range of topics, styles and subject matter with any other rappers out there. Everybody else wants to be in a niche’ or genre. I just do me, and that encompasses a WIDE range of thoughts, emotions, experiences, goals, dreams and stories.
I hear you’re working with a Colorado/Hawaii producer for a free EP. Who is he and how did this connection come about?
Yes yes. Me and the illustrious Kid Hum are working on a album/EP right now called SOBEIT. Me and Hum hooked up online, actually through It’s An Infinite Cycle and RockTheDub.com. I was impressed with Kid Hum’s production after hearing Whygee & Sunkenstate’s Suicide Watch, and then I was BLOWN AWAY by his solo effort Fossil Fuel. So it was a given that I stepped up when I heard he was putting together a mixtape with various emcees for online release. We started talkin then, and realized we had mutual respect for each other, and we both felt we could bring something new and exciting to the HipHop table for 2009 by doing a complete project together. And SOBEIT was born.
Since you are located in NC and Kid Hum is in Hawaii, do you think the long-distance partnership is affecting the music’s quality?
Not at all. In this digital age, studio sessions are virtual now. A major part of the creative process for me has ALWAYS been individual, even when collaborating with a producer. There’s a seperation I draw similar to Smoke in Biker Boyz where I just see the road (or in this case, the track). Kid Hum is the same way in that he produced beats for OUR project, it wasnt just gathering up leftovers and whatnot to put out a mixtape. So, whats happening with SOBEIT is the quality is increased because the music is being streamlined and we’re cutting the filler tracks out that you get with a lot of mixtapes and EPs nowadays. Its concentrated. We’re making expresso, not cappuccino.
You have recently stated that you don’t take a lot of input before a project is finished. Do you think people outside of your circle would see this as being stubborn?
Hell, people INSIDE my circle see it as stubborn! I cant tell you the number of music friends I have lost or at least pissed off in my complete dedication to what THE MUSIC says to me. But, when I decided to do this, it was going to be on my own terms. To me, this is personal. Everything I do over the mic is personal. Its not business. So I cant allow business to interfere with the personal process. I’m not a “strike while the iron is hot’ kinda artist. I’m the “its always hot so handle it carefully” artist. What you have in music nowadays are people TRYING to be different. TRYING to push “boundaries.” When they’re actually recycling or regurgitating the last point in musical history where somebody thought they were pushing boundaries. I’m a firm believer that music conveys a message whether you want it to or not. So, when you become famous or known for your music, people have identified with what you are saying. So none of us are really as NEW or ORIGINAL as we wanna believe because other people THINK what we do and say musically all the time. My stubborness is just that. A dedication to putting out what I want people to identify with and gather from my music.
What is your connection with Backpackers’ Anonymous (BPA)?
Well, they would probably say I was one of the unofficial founders, but I dont see it that way. I feel that they blessed me with the opportunity to make history. I am a member of Backpackers Anonymous Music Group, started by Chicago-producer JSLIKK and Toronto-producer Cynergy Soundz. We are a collective of producers/emcees/singers dedicated to putting out undiluted True School Hip Hop until we can’t make music anymore. I was first approached by Cynergy Soundz back in 2004 to do a collaborative song. That song turned into “Get Laid,” then I was asked to be on the BPA mixtapes Foreign Currency Vol 1 &Foreign Currency: The Bootleg Sessions. This led to me and Cynergy doing a collabo EP (my first), 2007’s Ya’ll Gon Soon C.Y.Then after being featured on JSLIKK’s Drum Major mixtape series, me & JSLIKK decided we would get busy on a collabo album. That album is the soon-to-be-released Soul Train Dancer: A Tribute To Rosie Perez. It goes without saying, BPA is family. We’re family for life.
You have released many mixtapes, yet you haven’t released a full-length, debut album. What is the status on that?
My official debut, Back 2 Lyfe, executive-produced by Centric (Free At Last Music) is almost complete, and will be released digitally this year. As you said, I have released a TON of free music to the public, and we just wanna take time with this project to effectively spotlight our collaborative efforts, and make sure that everyone understands this is a continuation in Cyrano’s music. The title itself is elusive, because it lets the “dead” remain unspoken, and focuses on regeneration or resurrection. If you remember a couple years ago, the phrase “HipHop is dead” was popular culture. Well, here we are in 2009 and…how much has changed is STILL debatable. Now, it could be said much more than just HipHop is dead, feel me? So, like Mighty Mouse, Here I come to save the day.
Cyrano’s Republic is your most recent release and it was bulit around Nas’ “If I Ruled The World”. How so?
“If I Ruled The World” was a dream-like thesis about Nas’ version of utopia. I agreed wit Nas on a lot of the changes he would make to the world, most of em in fact. But, what Nas failed to do in his song, I intended to do on Cyrano’s Republic: contemplate if this utopia is possible, AND explain a little about how we get there. I’m a philosopher/theorist at heart, and I yielded to that part of myself for the title. It’s taken from Plato’s Republic, a collection of fiction drawing comparisons to real-life struggles, intended to spark thought and action from society. So thats the fork in the road where Cyrano’s Republic is found.
In a short description of Cyrano’s Republic, it was written that “Cyrano’s Republic dares you to answer the question ‘Can there be freedom without sacrifice?’” What is your personal opinion on that subject?
Personally, I dont thing there can ever be TRUE freedom without sacrifice. There are about 20 different “definitions” applicable to the word freedom. Probably many more. And that says enough right there. What kind of freedom? For how many people? Where? When I break freedom down to its smallest application, it is a thought. A electrical impulse of the brain. It’s individual, small, intangible. BUT, for it to exist in your brain, how many other thoughts have to be forfeited at the moment that thought is born? Feel me? So, if freedom in this small cross-section comes with a cost, all other applications MUST have at least one cost or sacrifice associated with them. Whether we choose to ignore the sacrifice or pay attention and yield to it, it’s there staring us in the face.
Madicinal Libationz is your newest endeavor involving Dub MD and Madlib. Can you provide more details on this collaboration?
Sure thing. Last year, I put out 2 mixtapes, Still Lovin It: A Mixtape Ode To McDonalds (produced by JSLIKK) and Back 2 Lyfe: A Return To Greatness (produced by Centric). These mixtapes caught the attention of world-famous DJ DubMD, who was in the process of recruiting emcees for his mixtape Hip Hop Renatus. DubMD invited me to have a slot on that project, and I took a classic Madlib beat and did my thing over it (the song was called “O.K. Corral“). After that, DubMD offered the opportunity to do a promotional mixtape paying homage to the supernova that is producer Madlib (the lesser promoted half of JAYLIB). We both had large collections of Madlib material, so it was on from there. What we’re doing is putting together a mixtape that will show you what Cyrano can do, no holds barred, no genre-labeling, no train-of-thought limits, etc. We called on some excellent emcees to join me on this one, including Junclassic, Wordsmith, Ill-Poetic, and Silent Knight to name a few, and I’m just extremely thankful to them and to DubMD for the opportunity. Its gonna be released 4/2, I released a leak already (Bolsheviks, over Jaylib’s “Red”) so be on the lookout. Its a classic, if I must say so myself. lol
We’re nearing the end of the interview and I want to thank you for spending this time with It’s An Infinite Cycle. Do you have any last words or shoutouts?
I just wanna say thanks to you and It’s An Infinite Cycle for supporting me, BPA and Free At Last Music. I promise to keep giving my best in all that I do to represent Real HipHop at its finest. Stop by the BPA blog, the Free At Last website, and my Myspace to keep up with what I’m doing this year. There’s gonna be a LOT of music, backed by some of the best producers in the game right now (up-n-coming AND established!). This is what I do, I thank all of you for supporting me. You can also download all of my current mixtapes (including Cyrano’s Republic) from Datpiff.com. Lookout later this year for my debut, Back 2 Lyfe, coming to a website near you! One luv