In the song "Dance With the Devil" by the rapper Immortal Technique, there is a line that I don't understand.

So now he had a choice between going back to his life

Or making money with made men, up in the cyph'

I'm not including a link to the lyrics because I don't recommend anyone read them unless they're making a serious attempt to answer this question, because they're highly disturbing.

The idea is that "he" would be initiated as a "gangster," and hence, "making money with made men, up in the cyph'."

None of the Urban Dictionary definitions make sense.

  • Thank you, @DanBron I see references to passing around marijuana, but I don't see how that connects to "being a made man." Is the idea that he smokes marijuana with the other gangsters? – Raa Feb 18 '18 at 0:08
  • Hmm, it seems a little bit "random," maybe, to me, but I can understand what you mean. Thank you. – Raa Feb 18 '18 at 0:13
  • Hello, Raa. As @user 159691 articulately expresses: '[S]orry, but in this site we deal with specific language issues (grammar, usage, meaning [of standard words and expressions] etc.) Interpretations of song lyrics, poetry or other forms of writing are subject to personal interpretations and personal preferences. See here for more: english.stackexchange.com/help.' – Edwin Ashworth Feb 18 '18 at 0:27
  • I was not in the conversation you refer to @EdwinAshworth, nor do I completely understand from your quotation marks and parenthicals who said what precisely. – Raa Feb 18 '18 at 0:32
  • Song lyrics are usually off-topic on ELU as their meaning (if any; I well remember a comment on 'Bohemian Rhapsody' by one of the members of Queen) can be so hard to pin down. Also, they may well be / include non-standard usages. – Edwin Ashworth Feb 18 '18 at 0:40

I found this on Wikipedia (so who knows how accurate or true it is). But is was from the "freestyle rap" page.

"What is a cypher in rap?" Is the question I searched Google to find this.

"A cypher or cipher is an informal gathering of rappers, beatboxers, and/or break-dancers in a circle, in order to jam musically together. The term has also in recent years come to mean the crowd which forms around freestyle battles, consisting of spectators and onlookers."



Note: this answer includes bad language and is not suitable for the young or faint-hearted.

Wow. What a powerful, brilliant, epic, (and very dark) poem.

The meaning of "up in the cyph' "

cyph' which appears abbreviated, is possibly short for 'cypher'. Did you notice that 'cypher' in full, appears later in the poem, where it says:

  • "In fact I'm sure he's standing among you at one of my shows

  • And every little street cypher listening to little thugs flow

  • He could be standing right next to you and you wouldn't know"

['He's' refers to 'the Devil', here]

'Cypher' appears to mean 'cycle' and the poem is about bigger and smaller 'cycles' on the planet and in street society, and how 'those wheels turn'.

The cycle wheels also crush people in that cycle, in this poem, like a destructive machine.

A 'street cypher' I'm guessing, is a person who is a part of 'those cycles'.

The writer positions 'niggas' in a bigger context of 'where humanity came from' - Annunaki 'angels' who came to in ancient times and set up the draconian system that created 'the cycles' that we - and the writer - are living in, and subject to.

[Annunaki is not mentioned in the poem explicitly, but alluded to, in my view, in 'Devils used to be gods - angels who fell from the top, There's no diversity because we're burning in the melting pot']

He then describes how the 'nigga' - man who is the subject of the poem - wants to 'go up' from the cycle he is in - to a higher level - which means - a more violent level of crime.

In doing what he must do, to achieve that, a twist of fate causes an event that turns the whole story on its head and manages to allude to the fact that humanity was 'fu%%ed from the beginning'. Or 'fu%%ed itself'.

And after that violent, disturbing twist of fate:

  • "So now he had a choice between going back to his life

  • Or making money with made men, up in the cyph' "

When I read the phrase Up in the cyph', I can't help thinking of 'cyberspace' - a futuristic 'cycle' where big deals are done and money is transmitted electronically. 'Made men' - men who 'have it made' - meaning men who 'are successful, 'have money' Up in the cyph' in 'cycles' of the banking system.

And at the same time, it makes me think of 'the starship' up in the sky - that goes not to our romanticised idea of 'heaven' but to another planet - where our original 'slavedealer parents' our potentially real mother - the Annunaki - came from, and fu**ed us into existence.

As a black person, from a line of ancestors who almost certainly will have literally been slaves in this system at various points - the poet knows all too well, this cycle and these cycles and then so, his poem, while talking about a violent twist of fate, is also talking about the fate of all 'niggas' all black people, and in fact, all of us, being in this, and these 'cycles'.

Note: You also 'rap' in a 'cypher' - a continuing cycle of poems.

See meaning 2. https://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=Cypher

At the above link 'Cypher' definition 1. is also the title of some specific rap works.

Lyrics: (warning: disturbing) https://www.google.com.sg/search?q=dance+with+the+devil+by+immortal+technique+lyrics&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8&hl=en-sg&client=safari

Reference, my own inquiry into this topic: https://www.amazon.com/Alien-Wedding-Reprogramming-Peace-mind/dp/1491069643

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