Updates from the team

Droppin’ Science Conference – Registration & Program Now Live!

The ERC CIPHER Team in collaboration with University College Cork’s Centre for Arts Research and Practice is geeked to host DROPPIN’ SCIENCE: Hip Hop Ciphering and Deciphering, the seventh annual Meeting of the European HipHop Studies Network. The conference will take place in Cork, Ireland from 23-26 May 2024! This year’s meeting is free and open to the public thanks to the European Research Council’s support of the CIPHER: Hip Hop Interpellation knowledge mapping project.

Visit https://globalcipher.org/home/cfp-droppin-science-conference/ for registration and program details.

This year’s theme asks us to bear witness to the strength of street knowledge. For four days in May, we will recognize hip hop as an organic intellectual arts practice and critically minded culture, building upon that foundation through workshops, conversations, performances, keynotes, scholarship, and fellowship. For four days in May, we will dance about ideas, considering what it means to flip the script on the university knowledge trade and reimagine our relationship to science, Wissenschaft, and all the narrow “ologies” with which white Europeans claimed mastery over our world. For four days in May, we will build a “pluriversity” “that is open to epistemic diversity” and “not merely the extension throughout the world of a Eurocentric model presumed to be universal” (Mbembe, 2015). For four days in May, we will cipher up, form “the ultimate alliance,” and create a hip hop autonomous zone in Ireland’s Rebel City, building common cause around hip hop ways of knowing and ways of being, ceasing to be mere scholars of hip hop and, instead, taking up the mantle of hip hop scholars.

We hope to see you there!

Daytime Conferencing Thursday to Sunday, Evening Club Nights Thursday to Saturday (Check back at globalcipher.org for full line up)

UCC Transbordagem: Hip Hop Overflowing Workshop

Granary Theatre, Sunday 4 February 2023, 1 pm

Theme: Space, Memory and Decoloniality in Contemporary Hip Hop: A dialogue between artists and scholars
In the first edition of UCC Transbordagem: Hip Hop Overflowing Series, rap artists as well as leading Hip Hop and memory scholars from UCC are brought into a dialogue on topical themes such as political memory, identity in the diaspora, and cultural hybridisation. Themes, all underpinned by the endeavour to end persistent legacies of colonial injustice, will emerge both in the performances of the invited Hip Hop artists and in the subsequent panels consisting of scholars and the artists themselves where open dialogue rather than paper presentations will be the principal working method. The invited artists produce multilingual rap lyrics, with languages (French, Spanish, Portuguese, English and Irish) playing a crucial role in finding their voices as artists and people from diverse backgrounds in postcolonial Europe. We have invited top intercultural Hip Hop crews and artists residing in Ireland and Europe reflecting on topical issues in their life-changing art. There will be performances before, between, and after the panel discussions. The evening will culminate in an open interaction where scholars, artists and the audience at the Granary Theatre will be able to participate in informal exchanges. The event is free, but must be prebooked via Eventbrite.
Performers/ speakers of 4 February workshop:
  • 0phelia aKa Ophelia McCabe
  • Craic Mob (Otaku Black, Farid Williams and Mike G as panellists)
  • Gustavo “Gusmão” Souza Marques
  • Milton Gulli
  • DJ: Jus Me
  • Open Mic surprises…
  • Moderating: Janne Rantala, Noreen Kane, J. Griffith Rollefson (MC)

13:00 Welcome and Opening words of organisers: J. Griffith Rollefson, Caroline Williamson Sinalo, Janne Rantala, Louisa Esther

13:15 First Performance: 0phelia & Craic Mob solo act

13:30- 15:00 I Panel: Ancestors and predecessors: Hip Hop production and political memory (Milton Gulli, Gusmão, Farid Williams – moderator: Janne Rantala)

15:00-15:15 II Performance: 0phelia & Craic Mob solo act

15:15-16:30 II Panel: Spitting the parole: the role of colonial languages in finding one’s own voice (0phelia, Otaku Black, Mike G – moderator: Noreen Kane)

16:30-16:45 Break

16:45-18:00 Main Performance, DJ and Open Mic: Craig Mob, 0phelia and surprises

Moderated panels start with 7-minute initial contribution from each panellist and will be followed by moderated discussion. The objective is to foster an open dialogue with the public rather than share ready made presentations.

UCC Transbordagem Hip Hop Overflowing Series organises interdisciplinary and buzzing events that will bring together rap artists as entertainers and postcolonial intellectuals from diverse backgrounds as well as leading scholars from varying academic disciplines where Hip Hop knowledge is set to overflow. Following the experience of UCC CIPHER’s involvement in organising I International and Interregional Conference of Mozambican Hip Hop in Maputo in April 2023 and several smaller workshops of this kind, the idea is to provide spaces for unique entertainment and cutting-edge scholarship by creating a direct dialogue between rappers, Hip Hop producers, and researchers respecting each other’s particular ways of knowing and reflecting the world. The central objective of the encounters is to create accurate, decolonised and unpretentious knowledge, which will result in quality publications, create connections and enhance culture.

“Transbordagem” is a new word that Gustavo and Janne developed synergising two extant Portuguese words ‘transbordamento’ and ‘abordagem’, meaning roughly ‘overflowing’ and ‘approach’, respectively. Therefore, the word ‘transbordagem’ has multiple and continuously expanding meanings starting from overflowing to approach to boarding a new field of inquiry; a trans(un)disciplinary approach, if you like. Just like rappers’ words, rhymes and thoughts flow in hip hop music,  why can’t they even overflow in multiple directions? It is indeed our objective to make Hip Hop knowledge transgress barriers through trans(un)disciplinary academic knowledge. Indeed, ‘abordagem’ from ‘transbordagem’ also recalls marine battles, for instance when pirates approach and board (abordar) merchant and/or imperial ships to steal, hijack, loot, liberate, or burn them. Not by chance, Hip Hop is a non-conforming culture, which includes street dancing, sampling, painting public walls without permission, independently distributing mixtapes and piracy in its ethos. It might also remind us of  the Portuguese, ‘sabotagem’, the Brazilian MC Sabotage, and the Beastie Boy’s classic track ‘Sabotage’, a part of our minds’ soundscape. Finally, and subconsciously, transbordagem also contains the word ‘gem’ which is a key concept of the CIPHER project and method. Maybe just like pirates looking for treasure we are also looking for the hidden/encoded gems of Hip Hop knowledge so that we might amplify marginalized voices.  Protect ya Neck!

  • Department of Music / CIPHER/ POME-RAPMOZ
  • Department of French
  • The Memory, Commemoration and Uses of the Past Research Cluster 
  • Department of Spanish, Portuguese and Latin American Studies
  • Hosted by UCC’s Centre for Arts Research and Practice (CARPE)

Panellists’ and performers’ bios (in alphabetic order)

0phelia: Dublin-born, Cork based 0phelia aKa Ophelia McCabe is an independent underground HipHop MC, producer, and educator. She has opened for and collaborated with international hip-hop artists since 1999 (Ice Cube, Tony Allen, Maverick Sabre, Sage Francis, Pharaohe Monch, De La Soul, Captain Africa, Larame, and Ultramagnetic MCs among others). 0phelia is completing an Artistic PhD in the CIPHER Project in UCC and is the creator of PakAnimal, experimental song creation space. 0phelia’s passion for playing in bands and collaborating has made many meaningful connections within Ireland’s music community: PakAnimal, BassNeeds (2018), CoCo Baguettes (’16 – ’18), Mixtapes From The Underground (’06 – ’16), Mindsets (’10 – ’16), Ophelia & Redsquare (’06 – ’10), Scribble Sound System (’07 – ’10), DJ Moschops (’03 – ’09), Exile Eye (’00 – ’03) – Producer. 0phelia has a deep love for youthful expression. She dedicates her energy to facilitating young people in finding their voice. She has been working and developing skills in various, bespoke and regular, educational contexts since 2006. She works with GMC beats, The Kabin Studio Cork, YWIC, Music Mashup, Music Generation Cork City, and Cork Midsummer Festival. Ophelia facilitated a youth rap group in LINC lesbian and bisexual community centre in Cork. Instagram: @0_phe_lia

Craic Mob is a hip hop crew based in Cork, Ireland, bringing together MCs and producers with African, Caribbean, Mexican, and European heritage. In 2021, they released their first album Prehistory and, in 2022, their second EP L’An 0 came out. Irregularly, they release independent singles from “Wicked sessions” and organise local ‘Rap Invasions’, for which they collaborate with international and national rappers and DJs, too. Their productions are multilingual, mixing mostly French, English, Spanish, and expressions from their respective cultures. Among their most popular songs are “Attieke”, referring to a dish from Ivory Coast, and “Respire”, a song about the mixture of languages and genres within Craic Mob, contrasted in the music video shot against the typical Irish landscape. However, despite Craic Mob living cultural hybridisation and diaspora, they make clear in their songs that they’re mainly here to “forget about the stress […] and people vibing with the music sentimentally” (De L’Or, 2022). Their latest EP is King of Hearts by MC Lozza (2023), and a new EP by MCs Otaku and Azouuu is in the making. These feature individual styles, different themes from their walks of life, and a range of home-produced beats. Instagram: @craicmob

  • Otaku black: Originally Mauritanian, Otaku Black was born in Germany and raised overseas. He was exposed to HipHop at a very young age listening to various styles and genres of rap.
  • Mike G: “My name is Mikel but better known as MikeG, born and raised in the streets of Mexico city. My first interaction with music was freestyling in the park with my friends and after that I just can’t help rhyming even when I am alone”.
  • Farid Williams: “Farid Williams!! Born in Algeria, raised in France. Grew up with a dad listening to a lot of jazz that’s why I’m  mostly sensitive to 90’s boom-bap. I started guitar when I was 15 y.o, attracted by reggae music. I started rap in 2011.”

Gustavo “Gusmão” Souza Marques is an ethnomusicologist, drummer and tireless beat maker who is currently producing MC Luka’s new album and next singles (MC Luka is one of the most successful old school rappers in Mexico). Gusmão is also known for being a drummer of former live Hip Hop band Julgamento from Belo Horizonte city. On his YouTube channel, he successfully released the MF DOOM with Black Sabbath mashup which reached more than 14k views so far. www.YouTube.com/manuvahrecords

JusMe: Obsessive record collector, turntablist and party rocker JusMe began DJing at the end of the 1990s. He got his start battling as a Hip Hop DJ before moving on to promoting shows through the Hobo Convention and Cuttin’ Heads Collective crews, with a focus on championing forward-thinking Irish artists. Owner of one of the city’s deepest and most diverse collections of rare records, JusMe’s sets run through a range of genres including Soul, House, Disco, Afrobeat, Latin Grooves, UK Garage and more, all cut up in his unique, skill heavy style. Jus currently holds down residencies in the Crane Lane, Bru Bar, The Pav, Cask, Vicarstown, and the Roundy while also playing regularly at venues and festivals around the country. Over the years Jus has handled warm-up sets for international artists such as Mobb Deep, The Pharcyde, Macy Gray, Grandmaster Flash, The Gza, The Invisible Skratch Pikilz, Peanut Butter Wolf and Footwork legend Traxman to name a few.  Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/jusmehobo/ 

Milton Gulli is a Musician (Cacique´97, The Grasspoppers, Simba & Milton Gulli, Cool Hipnoise, Philharmonic Weed), Producer and Founder of Kongoloti Records. Also a DJ when he feels up to it! From Mozambican descent he was born and raised in the suburbs of Lisbon, Portugal and has lived in Saudi Arabia, Madeira Island and Mozambique. Milton Gulli is an artist deeply immersed in the Lusophone sounds, and Lisbon’s contemporary African music scene. His first project Philharmonic Weed started in 1997, releasing the EP Capital Som (2003) and the album Primeiro Mundo (2007), graciously mixing reggae, funk, soul and African music with conscious lyrics and a very activist attitude. In 2005 he was invited to be the lead singer for veteran Portuguese funk soul band Cool Hipnoise, recording the band´s last album with the same name (2006) and the radio hit “Brother Joe”. In the same year he and musician/producer Gonçalo Oliveira founded the still active 12 piece afrobeat orchestra Cacique´97. This collective released two albums Cacique´97 (2009) and We Used To Be Africans (2016). He was also seen exploring dub, reggae and hip hop with The Grasspoppers artistic crew. In Lisbon he has been invited to play with Prince Wadada, Kimi Djabaté, Mercado Negro, Marcelo D2 and was featured in many albums from artists like Rocky Marsiano, IZEM, Cabrita, Sam The Kid, Sagas, XEG and others. He has lived in Mozambique from 2011 to 2020, where he worked with the rapper Simba on the acclaimed british label BBE´s release The Heroes – A Tribute To A Tribe, a Mozambican tribute to a A Tribe Called Quest and, at the same time helping to produce Azagaia´s Cubaliwa for Milton´s newly established independent label Kongoloti Records. In Maputo, Milton has produced albums for Deltino Guerreiro, Ras Skunk, Spirits Indigenous and coproduced Granmah´s debut album and also played with Azagaia, Simba, DRP, TP50 and many others. He has composed the soundtrack for the Mozambican film Resgate/Redemption, available on Netflix. His music has always been for the people and about the people. Empowerment of the underprivileged, equality, justice, education for all and a world without borders. His debut solo album Quotidiano was released in March 2022!!

Some sneak peeks…





In Development: 3rdAI Hip Hop Research Engine

In Development: 3rdAI Hip Hop Research Engine

CIPHER has just launched our Interactive Artist Map at https://globalcipher.org/3rdai-hip-hop-research-engine/ — this will form the basis of the 3rdAI Hip Hop Research Engine which we hope to launch in January for Beta Testing with a massive lyric database and AI-assisted search tools. If you’d like to join us as an approved beta tester, please email us at cipher@ucc.ie with a short note about yourself and your skillz.
Have a look at the Interactive Artist Map — zoom in, zoom out, click, drag, and hover — and let us know if you have any additions or corrections at cipher@ucc.ie. Most of the data in the map is sourced from Wikipedia and refreshed weekly, so there are plenty of disambiguation kinks and decisions we’re still working out, but we’re excited to have a decent prototype for you to get into. The way our man on the ones and zeros, Shyam, has built it will always have up-to-date info from Wikipedia’s massive archive, so if there’s info you don’t see here, the other thing you can do is update the Wiki pages for your favorite artists (or make yerself a page! We’ll get discogs data up eventually too… thanks to UKRapMap for that tip and much more). In any case, while the CIPHER Team is constantly working to clean and improve this data, we’d appreciate your help from wherever you are in the world!
Take it for a spin!
Free Toomaj Salehi: Iranian musicians at risk

Free Toomaj Salehi: Iranian musicians at risk



Toomaj Salehi, is a 32-year-old Iranian underground hip hop singer mostly known for his protest songs concerning Iran’s societal issues and the policies of the government of the Islamic Republic of Iran. Toomaj was arrested (for a second time)on October 30th, 2022, during rotests in relation to the death of Mahsa Amini . IRNA (Iranian national news agency) released a photo of Toomaj blindfolded in the backseat of a car. The location where he is being kept is unknown. This event is to raise awareness about him and other musicians who are currently held captive in Iran. The session will be held on Thursday 10th of November 2022 from 16:00-17:30 GMT.


  • Prof. Griffith Rollefson
  • Mr Veria Amiri
  • Ms Shirin Assa
  • Dr Mastoureh Fathi

Registration is free, but places are limited. Please register via eventbrite here and a link to the event will be emailed to you.

THE Awards 2022 – Research Project of the Year: Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences

The CACSSS-based ERC project CIPHER: Hip-Hop Interpellation (PI: Prof J Griffith Rollefson) has been shortlisted for a 2022 Times Higher Education (THE) Award for Research Project of the Year in Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences.

CIPHER is a five-year ERC funded project investigating the international spread of hip hop culture and its attendant musical, lyrical, artistic, and performative forms on six continents. Its community-engaged research addresses the central question: why has this proudly localising and authenticising African American music translated so widely to far-flung communities around the globe?

The CIPHER team comprises 6 researchers and a research support officer alongside 3 affiliated MSCA fellows exploring hip hop culture and performance in North America, Africa, Asia-Pacific, South America, and Europe. The project has had major international impact and has caught the imagination of the public with 130,000 Twitter views of the news story announcing the project and a television viewership of 143,000 of the RTÉ feature documentary, Change Makers.

THE Awards are prestigious awards attracting over 500 applications from across the UK and Ireland in 20 categories. For more on the projects outcomes the CIPHER application lists them here.


CFP Extended: 4th Meeting of the European Hiphop Studies Network (Paris, January 2022)

PANTHEON: Hip-Hop’s Global Pathways to Cultural “Legitimacy”

Paris, France, 26–27 January 2022


26 January: La Place

27 January: Philharmonie de Paris

28 – 29 January: Philharmonie de Paris (French language conference): CULTURES HIP-HOP Création, légitimation, patrimonialisation?

About this Meeting

The fourth meeting of the European Hiphop Studies Network is organized in collaboration with La Place: Centre for Hip-Hop Culture, and La Philharmonie de Paris. The two-day, bilingual (English and French) and hybrid (in-person and online) Network meeting will lead into a two-day French-language conference on the creation, legitimization, and patrimonialization of hip-hop cultures (28-29 January 2022). Both the Network meeting and conference complement the museum exhibition “Hip-Hop 360” at La Philharmonie, centred on the same overarching theme. The Meeting keynote lecture will be delivered by Dr. Karim Hammou, and the keynote performance by UK rapper Lowkey. As such, we welcome all in-person participants to plan their stay in Paris from 26 to 29 January 2022 to take full advantage of the conferences, the museum exhibit, and a series of hip-hop events in the city.

 Content and Issues

Over the past few decades, as hip-hop culture has grown in popular influence and impact, it has increasingly been taken up as both a subject of study and a point of interest in educational and cultural institutions worldwide. Its acceptance into the academic and official realms has led to a popular discourse suggesting that hip-hop culture has been ‘legitimized’ – for better and for worse.

This process of institutionalization and ‘legitimization’ is complex and deeply ambivalent. In her appearance before the student-organized seminar ‘La Plume et le bitume’ at France’s prestigious École normale supérieure (ENS), rapper Casey preempted any temptation to see the academic seminar as a means of legitimizing rap:

Rap – even if it’s good that an association at the ENS takes an interest in it, that today, we can hold a seminar on it – rap doesn’t need to be legitimized by elite academic institutions (grandes écoles). It is an important culture without the ENS, or a chair at Harvard or Oxford taking an interest in it. (translated by Emily Shuman, https://youtu.be/jJsqvpG6Gfk)

Casey hints at what hip-hop scholar Murray Forman has described as, “the dual (and at times dueling) purpose of building academic knowledge while building hip-hop cultural knowledge.” Indeed, knowledge has often been cited as the fifth element of hip-hop.

Taking inspiration from French rapper Booba’s 2004 album Panthéon, which elaborates links between reverence, national pride, cultural legitimacy, and the famed mausoleum reserved for “great men,” the meeting seeks to explore the role of institutions in hip-hop’s legitimization. We invite reflections (including academic papers, workshops, artistic contributions, or other alternative formats) on the relationship between pathways to knowledge rooted in the cultural and artistic practices of hip-hop, and those that stem from institutional efforts to transmit hip-hop’s history and aesthetics. In other words, what are the roles that hip-hop researchers, practitioners, and activists can undertake to advance hip-hop’s work of knowledge and liberation? What might be the challenges or potentials of collaborations between hip-hop practitioners and the commodified knowledge trade of museums, universities, and conservatories? We invite submissions which may consider, but are by no means limited to, these questions.

 Submissions and Selection Process

To be considered for the Network meeting, please submit the following documents by email to ehhsnparis2022@gmail.com by midnight CEST, Friday, 15 October 2021 (deadline extended by 2 weeks):

  • A written abstract/description of 250 words including author name(s) and institutional affiliation(s) (if applicable)
  • Or an audio-/visual text of a maximum of maximum 2 minutes (.mp4)

Please submit all documents as an attachment. All proposals and all videos, as far as possible, will be anonymized before being forwarded to the organization committee. We will inform all applicants about the final decision by Monday, 1 November 2021. A select number of bursaries will be available for accepted presenters.

We accept proposals in either English or French languages. If presenting in French, we ask you to prepare a short accompanying abstract or slides in English. We also invite master’s and doctoral students as well as early career researchers to present their work-in-progress. We especially welcome papers that engage with less-academically-visible work from artists and practitioners from a wider variety of backgrounds.

In light of uncertainties related to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the conference will be held in hybrid format (in person and online) with preference for in-person presence, but the possibility of online participation/attendance should circumstances prevent travel.

 Organizing Committee (in alphabetical order):

Amir Sadik Abdullah aka. DJ Amir, 180 Proof Records
Monique Charles, University of West London, DrMoniqueCharles.com
Paroma Ghose, The Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies (IHEID)
Sina A. Nitzsche, Dortmund University of Applied Arts and Sciences/University Bristol
Griff Rollefson, University College Cork/CIPHER
Emily Shuman, New York University

For further information please see (in alphabetical order):

European HipHop Studies Network
La Philharmonie de Paris
La Place Paris

You can download the full call for papers (pdf) by clicking here.

Breaking and the Olympics Speaker Series

Breaking and the olympics banner

Hosted by Mary Fogarty (York University) & Jason Ng (University College Cork)

This 2021-22 online speaker series brings together Hip Hop researchers and dance practitioners to exchange ideas, share research in its developmental stages, and broaden our collective knowledge ahead of the official debut of Breaking in the 2024 Paris Olympic Games. The talks are free and open to anyone to attend, ask questions and develop the conversation.

The talks start on October 6th 2021 and will continue the first Wednesday of every month up until May 2022.

To attend the talks and receive updates register here.

Session information can be found in the extended program found here.

For any further inquiries please email: breakinginolympics@gmail.com


RTÉ to film Hip Hop premiere on UCC Campus

RTÉ to film Hip Hop premiere on UCC Campus

  • World Premiere of UBUNTU: Local is Global
  • Live Hip Hop Performances
  • Featured on upcoming RTÉ ‘Change Makers’ Series
  • Features Young People from Cork Migrant Centre and The Kabin Studio
  • Free, Outdoors, and Open to the Public
  • 19 September from 2-4pm

As part of their ‘Change Makers’ television series, RTÉ will be at UCC’s Honan Plaza to film the World Premiere of ‘UBUNTU: Local is Global’. The live show is a celebration of hip hop arts and culture. The program features music, dance, and art exploring how hip hop is a global youth culture encouraging dialogue between diverse cultures.

Ubuntu is the Zulu word for ‘humanity’. It literally means ‘I am because we are’, recognising the interconnectedness of all people. Ubuntu means the local is the global.

‘Change Makers’ is a brand new factual series premiering soon on RTÉ 1. It is following the CIPHER project from University College Cork which tracks the impact of hip hop music around the world from its roots in 1970’s New York. ‘Change Makers’ is coming to Cork to film the performance of this unique collaboration that brings young members of the Cork Migrant Centre together with youth from The Kabin Studios in Cork City.

The ‘Change Makers’ series which is supported by the Irish University Association features Irish research projects that are helping to create change across the country and beyond. This episode focuses on Professor Griff Rollefson’s first-of-its-kind CIPHER project (https://globalcipher.org/) that was funded by the European Union to do this work on hip hop arts and understanding. Rollefson explains: ‘“Ubuntu” is what this research project is all about—it’s what hip hop culture is about. The show will provide a platform for these young people to teach us about their hopes and dreams—and about what the future can and should look like’. The UBUNTU performance will feature youth in Direct Provision from the Cork Migrant Centre sharing the stage with youth from the Kabin Studios on Cork’s North Side. The show will also feature the talents of the hip hop luminaries Raphael Olympio, GMC Beats, 0phelia, Outsider YP, Spekulativ Fiktion, Gatch, Pacino Brady, DJ Safari, and other special guest artists.

Ubuntu Event

The show is led by Artistic Director and choreographer, Andrea Williams, who has composed a story of global solidarity through struggle and hard won understanding.
It will be outdoors and socially-distanced.

The event is free and open to the public, but ticketed. Register for up to 4 tickets at: