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The Cypher Event

I’ve written several times about The Cypher, an innovative fundraiser conceived by Roderick Red. Tomorrow night at 7 p.m., The Cypher: Mississippi Edition will debut at New Dreamz Jackson, 426 W. Capitol St., Jackson, 39203. Sponsored by Hope Credit Union and The Pigott family of Jackson, this hip-hop video performance by six of Mississippi’s finest young artists raises money for Parents for Public Schools of Jackson, specifically for its Ask for More Arts Initiative.


Please come if you live close enough. The suggested donation at the door is $10. This is hip-hop music that is family friendly, and celebrates the voices of the young people who are our neighbors.

Rod had a dream, and he convinced Jessica Simien and me to help pull it off. Along the way, we had help from Carolyn Jolivette, executive director of PPSJ;  Brad Franklin, an artist aka Mr. Franklin; Margaret and Brad Pigott, patrons of the arts, education, and the intersection between the two; and Bill Bynum and Richard Campbell, CEO and CFO at HOPE.

I appreciated the opportunity to meet and work with the artists: Dolla Black, IG, J Skyy, Hollywood Luck, Slimm Pusha, Trey Parker (not pictured above), and DJ TLewis. You can see my previous blog posts here.


Action from The Cypher

This is my final installment of photographs from The Cypher’s video shoot. Richard and Rod (Red Squared Productions) spent some time last night on post production. Everybody’s learning new things.


Dolla spitting
Dolla Black

Slimm spitting
Slimm Pusha

The Audience
An Audience

The Cypher Video Shoot-0019
Jordan lays the tape.


TLewis scratching.

Jessica Simien recording the PSA for Parents for Public Schools of Jackson.

Jordan cameraman
Jordan shooting.

mercedes shooting

Mercedes Lott.


The Cypher group, including from left: Dolla Black, IG, J. Skyy, Hollywood Luck, Slimm Pusha, Kamikaze, and TLewis.

Rod picked up my camera while I was working. He took these last few.

Sarah with Pusha

Sarah running lines with Slimm Pusha.

Sarah with cue cards
Shooting PSA with J. Skyy. Sarah holding cue cards.

Faces from The Cypher

Here are some of the people involved in The Cypher project, a first-time-ever-in Mississippi project featuring Hip-Hop artists raising awareness and money for increasing the arts in public schools. See my previous post for information on organizers and partners.

Jordan Red

Roderick Red Jr
Roderick Red Jr.

Jessica Simien
Jessica Simien

Mercedes Lott

Jared Moering
J. Skyy

Brandon Howard
Dolla Black

Donnie Sanders


Slimm Pusha
Slimm Pusha


My First Hip-Hop Video Shoot

For more than a year now, I’ve been working with Roderick S. Red Jr. on a number of different projects. Some have been for Hope Credit Union (see post here). Others have been for The Clarion-Ledger’s Voices blog project. The latest, which is called The Cypher: The Mississippi Edition is the biggest, hardest, and in lots of ways, the most satisfying. First of all, it’s Rod’s baby. He had the idea, he gathered partners ( and me), he convinced stakeholders (Parents for Public Schools of Jackson, Kamikaze), he raised money, and he’s pulling it off — with style. On Saturday, I helped shoot the video.

rod with jib
Rod is adjusting the jib.
Explaining the concept.
consulting with the crew
Giving notes to his brother Jordan, the most experienced among the crew.
checking the shot
Checking the shot.
checking mercedes shot
Checking the straight-on camera, operated by Mercedes.
notes to Dolla Black
Giving notes to Dolla Black.
Rod directing J Skyy
Giving notes to J.Skyy.
still shot
Getting the still shot, after “It’s a wrap.”
rod and slimm
Showing images to Slimm Pusha.