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So what the hell is Cryphy and how does one "get" it? In short, Cryphy (pronounced cry-fee) is hip hop's answer to turducken, the Thanksgiving chicken-duck-turkey supermeat — a sonic dish assembled here in Minnesota: Start with freshly picked Flyness, stuff it inside Hyperactivity, then jam them both into the finest, de-boned Cranked Up. The dish is best served accompanied by several of your favorite cocktails.
In order to Get Cryphy, one must be inside First Avenue's Record Room the first Friday of each calendar month, except when the party expands to the mainroom for the annual anniversary parties. This Friday marks five years of Get Cryphy's residency at the downtown Minneapolis venue, and it's an accomplishment. Somehow, in the middle of the conscious, fiercely indie rap scene of the Twin Cities, DJs Plain Ole Bill, Jimmy 2 Times, Last Word, and Fundo have sustained a dance party built out of club bangers. To quote Brother Ali, they're making Midwesterners "smile, dance, and have fun to music they thought they hated." It's party rockin' without a whiff of LMFAO.
Their playlist is largely inspired by regional scenes far from the Midwest, both culturally and geographically, that developed in the late '90s and early aughts. Rappers like E-40 and Mac Dre ruled Oakland's East Bay Hyphy scene with tracks laced with handclaps, fast tempos, and witty hooks. Down South, Lil Jon and Three 6 Mafia popularized Crunk stylings — fingers snapping, call-and-response wordplay, and tons of bass. Meanwhile, forward-thinking acts like Outkast and producers like Timbaland and Pharrell were sneaking this stuff into the mainstream, with Snoop Dogg's 2004 hit "Drop It Like It's Hot" as a prime example.
Get Cryphy Five-Year Anniversary, Friday, Feb. 8, 9 pm; 701 First Ave. N., Minneapolis, 612.332.1775.
"What makes [Get Cryphy] unique? They've done an incredible job of keeping up with new music and incorporating it into their night," says Mike 2600, who has designed the DJs' Nintendo-inspired flyers since the second-ever Get Cryphy night in 2008. "Their fans really trust them to let them get creative and do what they love. Plus they're just good dudes, funny as fuck, and enjoy excellent pizza and steaks."
"I've always thought of it like a really intense game of Capture the Flag," says 29-year-old Bill Hebl, a.k.a. Plain Ole Bill. "Like, 'Your turn to run, dude! You ready? You're gonna run that way, and I'm gonna run that way. Cool? Cool.'"
It's the first Friday of 2013, and the night is off to a slow start in the Record Room. The upstairs venue at First Avenue has an official capacity of 150 but ins-and-outs push it close to twice that on Cryphy nights. At 10:20 p.m., there's no line at the bar, and no shortage of open floor in the triangular dance space. A few girls with ripped skinny jeans and their hair in dreads angle their bodies near the far wall across from the DJ booth. Over the course of four hours, the four DJs spin between 200 and 250 songs.
"People are shufflin' in for that first hour, so we'll play whatever we want," Bill says. "We'll play eight Scarface songs that we really love. And there might be a kid there that's like, 'Hell yeah, they played eight Scarface songs!'"
In teams of two, constantly swapping out, the guys start integrating more and more caffeine-paced party bangers. Visually, they're four scruff-faced, playboy scratch nerds — stylish, but sans thuggish bling. Bill is distinguished by his longer mane of hair and height, Fundo is also tall and has tattoos out to his fingers, dark-haired Jimmy 2 Times has eyes that are constantly spiked with intensity, and goateed Last Word alternates between a pilot's calmness behind the decks and a towel-waver on the sidelines.
While Police Academy plays on the large screen next to them, each Cryphy team member keeps his surgical tools sharp — Technics turntables, MIDI controllers to trigger samples, and MacBook Pros running Serato DJ software. There's a goal to shift the beats per minute (BPM) up and down from the 60s into the 100s as the night goes on, with only the choicest hooks, exclamations, and beats blended into a frenetic surge.
A girl with a Janelle Monae-style pompadour, a couple of thrift-shop dandies, and a guy twirling glowsticks arrive separately, and the room starts filling up. "If you ain't drunk, get drunk!" shouts one of the Cryphy hosts. By 11:25 p.m., dank smoke hangs in the darkening room. Hippie kids in baggy, drooping hats start twitching as the Big Boi-Yelawolf collaboration "You Ain't No DJ" roars through the speakers, and the song-to-song transitions come faster. Was that "Brand New Guy" by A$AP Rocky back-to-back with Ludacris's expressive "My Chick Bad"? Almost on cue, several couples are necking in the crowd, and the Record Room really starts reeking of weed. It's 11:45 and the night's sold out.
A kid in a baseball cap is asking around for rolling papers, and about 10 minutes later, another guy is on the hunt for Zig Zags. He's 20 and has a leather biker jacket on. While he's more of a rocker, he says he's here with his friends, and adds that this is a great place to meet girls.