CyHi deserves all his flowers. Known for his elite lyricism, out-of-the-box metaphors, and spitfire flow, the Stone Mountain, Georgia native was discovered by Kanye West back in 2010, eventually becoming a pillar for Ye’s G.O.O.D. Music imprint.
With a standout feature on Kanye’s “So Appalled” off My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, Cyhi returned to unleash his debut studio album called No Dope On Sundays in 2017.
If there’s one thing you can count on from Cyhi, it’s real hip-hop with substance… something we can all appreciate in today’s oversaturated music industry.
But while the rest of the world was chillin’ on any given day last month, Cyhi experienced a near-death incident that he deems an assassination attempt. Going 140 mph in the high-speed chase as his assailants fired shots at his vehicle, Cyhi ended up crashing his car into a pole and tree which left him with minor injuries.
Beyond the music, Cyhi has been extremely passionate in turning his efforts into the film and television world, with hopes to screenwrite and eventually write and star in his own film.
AllHipHop: First off, you good?
Cyhi: Absolutely. We made it. We blessed. We recovering, I got a few stitches, but more so we’re good.
AllHipHop: I know you were going 140 mph. What was going through your head?
Cyhi: Survival. It was an unfortunate event. Things like that happen to the best of rappers, you don’t even have to be the worst one. You can be a positive one and it still seems to find you when you’re in the industry. Understanding Atlanta is a hot spot for everyone right now, so you gotta be careful. Not even Atlanta, from the East Coast to the West Coast, rapping is a rough sport.
AllHipHop: You feel like it was targeted for you?
Cyhi: I can’t say because I’m not into nothing to be targeted. In a nutshell, Black men are targets period. That’s the biggest thing of being in the music industry: being safe. Understanding your environment, where you at. Especially in the pandemic, that’s an unfortunate thing that Atlanta’s the only place that’s open and I was there.
AllHipHop: You were there the whole time?
Cyhi: For the most part, I was moving from LA. I was in Wyoming, different places.
AllHipHop: Wyoming for G.O.O.D Music?
Cyhi: Nah, but I wouldn’t mind at this point. I move around with my guys so I’m everywhere. Out the country, in the country, wherever. For the most part, that space is so hot right now for every ambitious young man. That’s why it’s good to be out here in LA, do the opposite.
AllHipHop: LA’s shut down still.
Cyhi: I like places that’s shut down. I been somewhere that it’s not and it’s chaos. A little shutdown is good for me, I’m a homebody anyway.
AllHipHop: Are you an introvert?
Cyhi: I wouldn’t say that. I’m more cruise control so I don’t have to do too much. If it doesn’t involve me or doesn’t involve money, something to feed my family or see my family, I could stay out the way. It doesn’t take too much to please me.
AllHipHop: How you feeling in 2021 with this rap s###? You’ve always been a well-respected lyricist.
Cyhi: I feel good, it’s almost like a reset in music. Not just in music, but the universe in so many words. It’s a fresh start. We don’t know when venues are gonna open back up, when touring’s gonna start. I’m being very creative and stockpiling my ammunition to be able to put out a large body of work in the next 12 to 18 months, try to get into some films. Script writing, venture off and add other things to my catalog and portfolio.
AllHipHop: What does it mean to be the “Black Superhero”?
Cyhi: We all are. We got this street thing about us that has to be upheld, when we’re way more than gladiators. A lot of times, we get pitted to be just warriors when you have intelects, doctors, lawyers, actors, ball players, fathers, teachers. We more than grab a strap, sell some dope, throw on some chains. Nah, we real deal saving and changing lives. Hip hop has done that for a lot of young brothers as well, that’s the whole theory of “Black Superhero.” Myself, I feel like that everyday.
AllHipHop: You say Cyhi the GOAT…
Cyhi: N*ggas know, the real ones know. The people who study the artform on the low, I’m one of their favorites.
AllHipHop: What inspired your musical, BARCODE?
Cyhi: That’s my official sizzle. I look at it like a television show without a TV in so many words. It’s a Jimmy Kimmel mixed with In Living Color, SNL vibe with Tiny Desk in so many words. The pandemic was here, what can I do differently? I don’t want to shoot videos so a big thing of mine had been musicals. My last album was gonna be the Hardway Musical: not the Broadway, the Hardway. That’s a teaser of what’s to come with my visuals, I’m looking to transition into film, scoring, and screenwriting.
AllHipHop: Is this the first time you’ve written a script?
Cyhi: I used to write for plays in high school and middle school, but this is my first time officially doing it on my own on screen and having the 8K cameras. The real film crew, that was pretty cool.
AllHipHop: Meaning behind the prison imagery?
Cyhi: It’s a lot of different parallels to it. One, I felt mentally encaged like most people are that are creative. You can’t go on stage, you can’t go out and mingle with people because the world’s shut down. I seen the basketball players in the bubble and they felt that way. A lot of people figuring out ways to still get out of this quarantine, so me too. What can I do that mentally puts me in that place? My imagination was yeah, let’s do it. Put all these creatives and influencers in this film, almost like we’re stuck in here and can’t get out.
Ideas you can’t get out, so we did it from inside. It’s an initiative for prison reform as well. I have a friend I’m working on getting out now, his name is Greg Styles. He been there 18 years so I put BARCODE together to reflect that and understand there are talented people behind bars. They’re real people, regular people like us that made mistakes. I have this initiative called the Jail Initiative: Judging Another Innocent Life. That’s the whole theme of my show.
AllHipHop: So many people are locked up for s### they didn’t do.
Cyhi: You know me, even if you did or didn’t do it: the time should actually fit the crime. In this situation, he’s done more than his fair share.
AllHipHop: What was his charge?
Cyhi: Armed robbery. He wouldn’t tell on his brother they said was with him, so they hit both of them with it. Different circumstances like that, kill 2 birds with one stone.
AllHipHop: That’s why people love Bobby Shmurda.
Cyhi: He didn’t switch up, he held it down. He was responsible, that’s how you’re supposed to do it though. You don’t complain. You don’t tell on nobody or do anything to get out of it. He even held it down for his other crew to be able to come home soon, that’s honorable.
AllHipHop: Who do you listen to, artist-wise?
Cyhi: To be honest, I don’t really listen to rap. I hear rap, but I don’t listen to it. I listen to myself mostly. I hear new songs out, I’m a person who hears it one time. Some artists are so good that you’ll find yourself sounding like ‘em if you listen to them too long. Oh that’s what he on? That’s what he sounds like? He sounds dope. My top new artists would be Kodak, I love Kodak.
AllHipHop: I love Kodak but he’s canceled.
Cyhi: Damn, for real? These guys getting on young, super young. When you look at dudes that got on young like Nas, he was 19, 20, 21. Back in our favorite rapper days, we couldn’t follow ‘em around 24/7. They probably said a lot of things, done a lot of things that could’ve canceled them but you only heard from on an interview or BET, MTV, and it was over with. I think it calls for a little forgiveness, but he’s dope. A lot of young artists I like: Rod Wave, DaBaby, the list goes on. I go through a lot of them, those are the new guys I listen to.
AllHipHop: Have you ever been canceled?
Cyhi: I don’t believe in the canceled, that’s a bunch of bots that galvanize a group of people and try to put out a certain rhetoric on a certain concept. When you’re being 24 hours a day due to social media, you gotta be careful what you say and put out.
AllHipHop: I’ve been wanting to ask you this, you have writing credit on “Sicko Mode”!
Cyhi: I have to break this down for us as a culture. When you’ve already accomplished everything you could accomplish in rap, in your division — say if it’s football, you go to the Super Bowl and you’re representing that full division. That division is hip hop. If you’re putting up against country, pop, rap, alternative, jazz, those people are in the studio with multiple creators. They got different musicians, writers, vocalists.
AllHipHop: You were in there strictly to contribute to the writing?
Cyhi: Yeah, ‘cause Travis is shooting for the top spot. He’s shooting for the Grammys or the Pulitzers and whatever great awards you can get when you’re a hell of a musician. Hollywood Walk of Fame. Some dudes want to get some money. Let me get some money, yada yada, rap, take care of my family. You get to a level where you have enough money that the respect of your peers and the fans of how good your work is and where their value it, is when you take the whole genre of hip hop to help you speak and give out your message. When you’re on the Grammy stage, you can compete with all these other people who have multiple musicians, multiple thinkers in the room with them. I don’t look at it as I’m writing it, me and Trav spent 6 months together before we even picked up a pen.
AllHipHop: What are those hangout sessions like?
Cyhi: Oh, Travis it. Let me tell you that, he’s lit. He’s a young, real successful superstar. He has his way around where he wants to live, how he wants to drive his car. We went to the games, we went to the mall. We did regular things, but on a high level.
AllHipHop: Where at?
Cyhi: We’re in Texas. We did some there. We did a few months here, then we did a few months in Hawaii.
AllHipHop: How did y’all get so close?
Cyhi: Through Ye. When he first came in, that’s around the time I came in. We built that bond there. He’s super cool, we do a lot of work together. They help me.
AllHipHop: Did anything change when Travis blew up?
Cyhi: Nah, he’s just lit. He more lit, got more Dior shoes, Nikes, and everything else. [laughs] McDonald’s commercials. He got a child now so that occupies more of his time but when I first met him, he was super raw. Stuck in the studio, super lit. Jump on the speakers.
AllHipHop: You get the exclusive Cactus when they come out?
Cyhi: I mean, I can. I haven’t been on top of him but I know everybody been down his throat with ‘em: “I need those!” But anytime I want them, I can get on the phone and call.
AllHipHop: What lines in “Sicko Mode” did you do?
Cyhi: I can’t get that deep into it, because it’s not really that deep. But that’s him. Like me and you, we going back and forth. “Astronaut. Oh! Have a not. No don’t say have a not, afterthought. That’s the one!” I’m not Lil Bow Wow’ing nobody. No disrespect.
AllHipHop: How much were y’all smoking?
Cyhi: One thing about it, back when that was happening, it was a plethora of et cetera. That’s part of the environment at this point. Especially in LA, it’s not taboo or nothing. It’s smokey, it’s drinky, it’s all the above.
AllHipHop: How lit were y’all getting?
Cyhi: I don’t really get that lit because I gotta make sure the songs get done, but everybody else is lit. Sheck Wes lit lit, he’s jumping off the balcony into the pool. All that, they’re definitely rockstars.
AllHipHop: Were you there for “Mo Bamba”?
Cyhi: Nah I wasn’t there for that, but most of ASTROWORLD I was there for for sure. I’m there for a lot of projects y’all probably don’t know about. Definitely a lot of Ye projects. Watch The Throne, a lot of people don’t know I was there for that.
AllHipHop: How do they help you?
Cyhi: Hook writing, songwriting, producing. Travis doesn’t produce that much no more, but he’s one of the best producers ever. He mixes his own vocals. Before Mike Dean even touched it, that’s Trav. People don’t understand when Trav first got on, he was an engineer. He’d carry his computer around and record dudes, then he started producing and got into more the rap side. For the most part, he’s one of the geniuses in the music industry.
AllHipHop: Fondest memory from the Watch The Throne days?
Cyhi: These aren’t young guys when I met them, they were more seasoned vets. They got their wives. I don’t know if they’re married or girlfriend at the time, but they’re in serious relationships. Trav was a young guy, but Ye and Hov were more seasoned. When I first met Jay and they’re in the room together, they said “we loved your verse on ‘So Appalled.” You first get your Jesus piece, I was there with both of the builders of the Roc. Those moments were special but that’s more when I was an outsider. Now I’m an insider, so it’s family. I appreciate them more than idolize, it’s a mutual respect. When I first got there, I was starstruck. This is lit! My favorite artist.
AllHipHop: Have they checked on you?
Cyhi: Yeah, absolutely. Everybody somewhat checked on me. That was a beautiful thing, It let me know that I’ve been a great person to a lot of people.
AllHipHop: How are you mentally after that experience?
Cyhi: Definitely it’s traumatic. There’s things you do think about on the side, but you try not to let it control your day. Growing up being young, coming up in an urban environment, sad to say, it’s not your first rodeo. It should never be your rodeo, unless you’re the military. If you think about guys in my city, Chicago, it’s really worse to live there then to be looking for an IED on the ground in Afghanistan or some craziness.
AllHipHop: My girl Saint Bodhi was saying growing up in South Central LA, she’s seen so much she’s numb to it.
Cyhi: Especially young girls, their boyfriends or their friends they grew up with, they gangbanging. You got to show up to a funeral a year later, that hurts. A lot of cultures don’t have to experience that but for some reason, we do. That’s the thing I try to speak on in my music and deter them from that, give them more options. I always said when I grew up, I wanted to have a song so powerful that nggas loading their guns to ride on some nggas, and I say something in the song and it’s like “man, f### it.” [turns steering wheel] Versus insinuating it, some dudes make music to make me like nah, f### that! We going no matter where they at. My s### is: damn man ,it ain’t really that deep.
AllHipHop: What did your song “Elephant In The Room” do?
Cyhi: That was an album me and Ye started work on, but a lot of times he grows past a lot of different things. That was going to be our Dr. Dre/Eminem album. We got a lot of stuff in the stash so anytime we want to do something creative, it’s no problem. It takes a few weeks or a few months to put together at the most, and it’ll be done. When your trailblazing, you don’t want to be that dude to step in front of that. It’s bigger than me. My thing is, let him create his history and create his narrative, paint his picture how he wants to paint his. I’m great, I’m super taken care of. My best friend makes sure I’m good. Everybody around him is where they need to be in life, none of us can complain.
AllHipHop: CyHi in the film world, what goals do you have?
Cyhi: I want to go blockbuster. I named my company EGOT: Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, Tony. That’s the name of my new company, EGOT Records. That’s what I aspire to get.
AllHipHop: Anything else you’d like to let us know?
Cyhi: I have 3 albums I’m putting out in the next 18 months. I was going to roll them out but at this point, might as well give the world something. I was trying to wait to see if the world would open back up and go on tour, but I’m gonna start rolling them out soon. BARCODE is what I’m working on now, a lot of songs I’m premiering on a live level. Most people do the live performances after they put their album out. But mines, I’m doing opposite. I’m doing the live version of the records first, so by the time you hear the real version, you gon’ be like “wow, I didn’t know it sounded like this.” That’s what BARCODE is.
AllHipHop: Is this through G.O.O.D. or independent?
Cyhi: Independent through EGOT Records. We have a lot of people inquiring about partnering with us. You’ll be hearing a lot about it.
AllHipHop: Major labels?
Cyhi: It depends on where it goes. Right now in this environment, but you not being able to tour and everything you might want to get more of your music. When the world opens back up, you’ll obviously want to have some partners come in and make it what it is.
AllHipHop: I feel like you have a game plan.
Cyhi: Absolutely, I got a trick or two up my sleeve.
AllHipHop: Have you always had a game plan?
Cyhi: Yeah but a lot of times, I let God take me where he wants. Now I have a full vision of what I want to do since the world slowed down. I had to slow down, the industry slowed down, gave me a chance to really plan and forecast what I want to do for the next two years.