Saturday was 713 Day, the unofficial day to celebrate all things Houston. Downtown’s Market Square Park was buzzing with activity all evening as people went in and out of surrounding bars and shops while dodging scattered showers. The second floor of Henke and Pilot, which overlooks the park, was also active as MCs from all over Houston met up to participate in Houston Bar Code’s 713 Cypher. The crowd chattered as Dante Higgins stood before them dressed in his signature all black with red shoes and hat.
“They told me to come and spit so I’m here. I’m gonna rap until you stop me,” he exclaimed while adjusting the brim of his cap as the DJ dropped the beat which quieted the room. The MC worked through each line of his freestyle and continued in acapella after the beat trailed off. The rapper, hailing from Southlawn spoke with the Houston Press about the importance of 713 Cypher.
“This event is so important to me because it’s showing that Houston has rappers. Every time they call me to come out, I show up to prove my ability against other MCs in the city that know how to spit. I bring my bars and I hope that others bring their bars.
The 713 Cypher is the brainchild of Scotty Raps and Buretta Blaze, two battle rappers that formed Houston Bar Code.
“We used to go out of town to do these battles but we realized there was a void in Houston,” explains Scotty Raps. “I was doing shows in Houston and they weren’t selling out but then I put together a battle and it sold out, so I knew we were onto something. After doing it for a few years I got with Buretta Blaze and we built the team up from there. Now we’re the biggest league in Texas and the city loves it. We pulled in about 700 people at our last event. People don’t know that Houston is the No. 1 market for battle rap.”
Buretta Blaze adds “when you think about this platform...we didn’t have this. We didn’t have anything like Houston Bar Code. We had the concrete...outside...rapping rain, sleet, or snow. Now we’re able to give lyricists something that we didn’t have. Some place for them to come to and showcase their talent.”
The talent showed up Saturday as cypher after cypher showcased established MCs alongside rising newcomers. Rappers including Surreall, Chucky Trill, GT Garza, Imanii Monroe, Big Bad Kab, Doeman DYNA, Bigg Fatts, Ronan Banks, and others rocked the stage over the music provided by Mo City producer Pugtunes. The crate digging creator spoke on connecting with Houston Bar Code and what 713 Cypher means for the city.
“I think this event is good for networking purposes. You get a chance to meet other rappers, producers, and brands. They reached out to me and I just really liked what they were doing. They ran the concept by me and I provided all the music.”
Freon Icy Cold got attention and applause from the crowd during his cypher. He took a break from taking pictures and giving people his contact info to explain what he wants to get out of participating in the cypher.
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“A lot of people assume we can’t rap out here. Our culture is prevalent in the world, but people don’t think we can go bar for bar with people from other cities. I’m just here to bring some respect to our culture and respect to the city.”
The night capped off with Doughbeezy showcasing his lyrical prowess spitting 64 bars in his rapid fire, staccato flow. The MC who released his first EP in 2010 knows the importance of having events like the cypher in Houston.
“I work real closely with Houston Bar Code for events like this as well as other things. The art of MCing or spitting is not what I’d call a lost art... but it is under appreciated. When events like this happen it’s just real healthy for the city. We have our own lane right now and things just keep growing and growing. The crowd keeps getting bigger and bigger. We’re just trying to maintain consistency and be the frontrunners for bars in the city. When you think about lyricism and your pen game we want you to think of us.”