By Ryan Anderson
Soulbody Cyphers Presents: Battle Royale - The Last Artist Standing
The Boxyard Tulsa
July 29, 2023
Soulbody Cyphers is a showcase performance event for artists from all over Oklahoma. Theirmission from their Facebook Page states; SoulBody HipHop Cyphers highlights underground hiphop talent all around the nation. A typical Soulbody Cyphers event would be 10-plus artists gathered in a building rapping some of their best bars over the same beat. But today’s event was anything but typical. This time around the Soulbody Cyphers did a competition for which this was the first round. 20 performers from Tulsa going head-to-head, performing one original song, and only the top 8 advance. To what? For a chance to be selected to go to an AirBnB to do music-related challenges and skill development programs.
The Judges. These weren’t just anybody pulled off the streets, each judge carries an impressive resume. Kode Ransom is a well-known poet and songwriter who has written most notably for the Grammy award-winning artist B.o.B.. MidWest BJ is a popular radio personality for 105.3 who also hosts a radio segment called the “Midwest Artist Takeover” that features songs from local artists. Thomas Who? is one of the most lyrical rap artists in Oklahoma who has also appeared on the Fire in Little Africa album and is a PPBC Trailblazer award recipient. And the final judge 2 Peece, who is one of the most sought-after producers from Tulsa whose music has amassed millions of streams, he’s worked with the likes of Steph Simon, Devin The Dude, and Lil Flip. so you can see, these are the real deal.
The Performances: The performances featured a wide array of talent, but a narrow list when it comes to genres, mainly Hip-hop and R&B, and a sprinkle of Neo-soul. The performers had a wide range of experience, from the veteran to the new kids on the block. You get the gist of it. Each performance was by itself unique and authentic. Each artist brought something to their performance that they thought would be worthy Soulbody Cyphers. That’s because Soulbody Cyphers is a community. One that has been built brick by brick by the artists and supporters. Support being a very keyword. Because when Anonymous Vox, decided on the unconventional method of performing acapella backfired into what became a recurring retry of forgotten lines, it was support from the artist and audience that helped him finish his song and still cheered for him. But don’t forget, this was still a competition, but few competitions exhibit this sort of support. And at the same time, few competitions had a Thomas Who? as their judge. Similar to a hip-hop Simon Cowell, Thomas Who? was the only judge out of the 4 that was willing to score an opponent below a 6. It was Thomas Who? who gave out a score of 4 out of 10 to an artist, and deservingly so. But with that, he gave the most honest and the most helpful critique of all the judges. On the flip side was a surprising performance from JediahKO, a performer that took control of the crowd from the beginning. He’s also a younger artist, so it was refreshing to see his command of the stage and to hear the depth from his bars. “How you supposed to put the Rugers down when niggas is Ruthless now.” This bar left all the judges amazed. His performance was an assurance that hip-hop was in good hands.
Another performance that caught everyone’s attention was Ace Da Kid's, because it was filled with raw emotion. Seated in a chair and with a phone pressed firmly against his cheek, an emotional Ace Da Kid rapped a voicemail let to his father about the lies and abuse that he could never tell him until this now. This was a special moment where he himself could not contain these raw emotions, breaking into tears, which created pauses in his verses that invited waves of emotions throughout the audience. Afterward, the crowd ran to the stage and embraced the performer. The performance even moved the judge Thomas Who? to feel this performance enough to give out the rare 10 of the night.
And then there was Kendra Bars. There aren’t enough words to express just how great of an artist she is. Her bars. Her flows. Her bravado. Misses bars take a bow, take a bow. She is someone that is making waves in the town. You’ve got to see a Kendra Bars performance for yourself.
Soulbody Cyphers may be moving to this new battle royale format. Who knows? But what’s not changing is the support from the community that has been built. I left the event with a newfound respect for some of the artists while also seeing the potential of others. So, to make it clear. Soulbody Cyphers got talent!
The Top 8 were:
Midwest BJ also picked JediahKO and Kendra Bars to be featured artists on the Artist Takeover which will put 10 radio-edited songs from these artists in rotation on 105.3.
2 Piece also gave away a collab studio session.
Kode Ransom picked an artist to do a songwriting session with as well as a studio session.