Kyprios
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Kyprios
biography


The classic definition of the term MC is one that has the ability to grip a mic and control the crowd, and Kyprios has more than earned this title. He is a commanding presence on stage – able to hold the crowd in silent rapture as he drops an introspective piece that draws heavily from spoken word, only to suddenly flip it and incite a sea of thrusting hands with a rapid fire set of punchline-laden lyrical flows. Able to deliver a seamless blend of rapping, singing and harmonizing, The Vancouver, BC native’s larynx is a potent stash of varied lyrical weapons.

Kyp turned to rhyme 12 years ago after his older brother started hanging out with Degree One, a member of Sound Advice; the first hip-hop outfit to represent the city of Victoria, BC. “My brother was going to school with Deg and they became good friends,” Kyprios recalls. “I started to get all of these underground tapes from Degree through my brother. I had already started to write poems and thought; ‘Wow, maybe I can turn these into raps.’ That’s really where I began writing, studying and building.”

A few years later, Kyprios was introduced to a hungry, battle seasoned MC named Prevail (of Swollen Members), who would become a tutor to the developing talent. “I met Prev when I was about 16 and he became my mentor. Shit, that guy was at least 10 times better than me when we first met, so it gave me someone to look up to and bounce ideas and flows off of and truly develop my own style.”

In 1998, Prevail invited Kyp on a last minute road-trip that brought him to New York City for the first time. “It was summer, and the Swollen Members were traveling to New York to participate in the 21st annual Rock Steady Reunion,” he remembers. “So, Prev and a couple of other friends were planning on making the drive and invited me to come. I saved up a bit of money with the plan to get there and stay and check it out for a while.”

Once he arrived and soaked up the vibe of the birthplace of hip-hop, he knew that he had to return and spend an extended period of time. A year later, he was back in New York as a temporary resident. “I had all of these misconceptions about how hard the city was, but when I got there all of the stereotypes I had formulated in my mind were washed away. The people were very kind, and I had never seen a city that is so vibrant and moves at such a fast pace. I have never seen the caliber of artists on a day-to-day basis, never walked into freestyle ciphers with street MCs who were at that level of talent. It was very humbling in that aspect and really drove me to improve.”

While in NYC, Kyprios expanded on his background in theatre by enrolling to study acting at the well-respected HB Studios. The skills learned there added a level to his performance rare amongst his MC peers. “The most important thing I have taken from my acting is the knowledge that every moment is an opportunity to entertain. Using that knowledge, I strive to sculpt every movement and every breath when I am on stage to make the audience’s experience more fulfilling.”

However, life wasn’t all good in the five boroughs. A memorable encounter with the ugly side of New York on a crowded subway inspired Kyprios to create what remains one of the cornerstones of his stage show – an arresting piece titled “Hate.” In the piece, Kyp presents the varied forms and angles of racism by personifying the venom spit at all cultures. “I was living in Bushwick Brooklyn and commuting to Manhattan every day for work and school,” he remembers. “I was on the train every day on one of the busiest lines. One day there was only one seat left, and there were two people lobbying for the seat – a Black guy and a Jewish guy. I’m standing right next to the seat and within seconds it escalates to the point where they are spewing racist remarks at each other.”

“To me, if the first person hadn’t taken it to a racist level, the other probably wouldn’t have responded in that way. I took that experience of watching them try to spread pain and tried to turn it into something positive.”

In 2001, Kyprios stepped in front of the mic for the first time in a Slam Poetry arena at the storied Nuyorican Café in New York City. After delivering "Hate" to the packed house, he left the stage with the respect of the crowd. “Man, the Nuyorican was the poet’s Mecca,” he reflects – the emotion of the evening obviously still with him. “I had seen documentaries about it. I knew that real poets ran it, and to me it was the biggest and the best place to be a poet. The vibe of the place is incredible – there is something going on there every night, whether it was spoken word or theatre or an MC battle, it’s like Cheers for an artist.”

After returning to Vancouver later that same year, Kyprios released an independent album entitled Mic Tease, performed numerous club shows and began to host a weekly open mic poetry series dubbed "Come With It." In addition to giving him focus to put pen to paper to have performance ready material each week, this event gave him the forum to experiment vocally and build a commanding stage presence.

At the same time, Kyprios was also a founding member of the Juno-nominated Sweatshop Union. While working within the group, Kyp also maintained his solo identity and continued to write and record his own material.

Kyprios’ solo work caught the attention of Sony Music Canada in 2002 when he sent the company a package. After signing with the label, Kyp took the time to reevaluate his studio process before sitting down to pen his first distributed release, Say Something.

“When I was in Vancouver recording my independent stuff and my material with Sweatshop Union, I was getting tired of two bar loops,” he explains. “I started saving bits of money to bring in studio musicians to drop an upright bass line or a guitar riff or come in and play some flute or some sax to give the song more of an organic feel – more dimension and body.”

To oversee the creation of this body of sound, Kyprios enlisted the talents of several notable producers. Their diverse experiences and styles resulted in an album with an incredible selection of flavors. Behind the boards for notable tracks were Billy Mann (Pink, Kelly Rowland) on “Sex” and “Never Say Goodbye;” Saukrates (Kardinal Offishall, Ginuwine, Method Man) on “Ignorance Is Beautiful” and “Feels So Good,” and Rob The Viking (Swollen Members) on “Hold Your Soul” and “One Day.”

The release of “Say Something” lead to Kyprios touring with Busta Rhymes, Wyclef Jean, and Naughty By Nature, but ultimately Sony’s pop-oriented marketing did not take hold and the album was not a success by major label standards. Regardless, Kyp’s group Sweatshop Union continued to make forward progress, and his acting career also flourished. In addition to appearance in several TV shows, Kyprios was recently cast in the feature film 88 Minutes” opposite Al Pacino. Now, after asking for and receiving a release from his Sony deal, Kyp is ready to move forward with his career as a solo artist. Watch for more good things to come.