Cyne of the Times
Many groups lose their original creative spark after their first couple of releases and spend the bulk of their careers trying to get it back. Cyne, the hip-hop quartet based in Miami, Gainesville, and Paris, France, is going against that grain on its third full-length, Pretty Dark Things.
"With the music, we wanted to focus not on the cliché way you're supposed to feel, but how we truly feel about something," MC Cise Star explains. "We make music for ourselves, which allows us to express the way we want to — no constraints, no real timeline — and I think it goes for all four of us."
Along with Cise, MC Akin and producers Speck and Enoch have always held true to themselves, delivering introspective social commentary that cites everyone from Rousseau to Nas. The lyrics ride over forward-thinking beats that churn blog-worthy singles into cohesive albums.
On Pretty Dark Things, tracks build on present-day themes — from societal ills to personal relationships — and lock like Connect Four pieces into the accompanying backdrop of African rhythms and soulful programmed beats. Considering the way the record meshes, one might be surprised to learn that most of it was put together over the Internet. "In the digital age, us being in different places, a lot of it was based on transferring files through e-mail," producer Enoch says. "If Speck had a beat, he'd send it to me, or if I had a beat, I'd take it to Cise and Akin, record the vocals, and then Speck and I would go back and forth adding sounds and mixing the songs."
Since the group's first album, Time Being, was released in 2003 through Miami's Botánico del Jíbaro label, Cyne has fully embraced the digital world. They have garnered a heavy buzz on the web, and they toured Europe extensively before making appearances around the United States. Still, their singles line record shelves in Tokyo and London, while American buyers are playing catchup. With past efforts on German labels City Centre Offices and Project Mooncircle, the group brings distribution back stateside with Pretty Dark Things, on Portland, Oregon-based indie Hometapes. "This is the first time domestically we've seen people starting to notice," Cise says, "and the first album we've focused here first."
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