The rappers have not only had a fruitful journey since creating CYN in 2012-13, but finally introduce themselves on their first project as a crew. All touting different talents, each member brings something specifically unique to the table, with Kai and Niko manning the helm for CYN’s push into mainstream circles.
While ELEVEN53 is poised to lay the foundation for their longstanding stake in the game, the group strives to maintain the “brotherhood” they’ve cultivated every step of the way.
“We’re not a label-made group,” Brim said. “We’re authentic, it’s a brotherhood between us. We’re all really family and that brotherhood between the seven of us truly shows in our music. This is actually our first body of work together throughout all these years.”
Aside from their solo projects — most recently in 711 (Kai Ca$h) and B4THETHRONE (Niko Brim) — CYN’s new 6-track EP features audio clippings from the road with fresh-faced lyrical enigma Cordae — opening up for his “From a Bird’s Eye View Tour.” The blossoming NYC powerhouse boasts emcees in not only Kai and Niko, but King Combs, K Wales, Great Dame, ShaqnLivin and more. Attesting that their unwavering bond stems from the genuine relationships they have with one another, each of CYN’s members find balance in collaboration — feeling out the vibe for the others to build off of.
“There’s seven of us, and we’re already super collaborative so on this project, we really wanted to show that. Everyone isn’t working on the same track at the same time, but we all sit down and listen to beats and see which one speaks to us. It might be me, it might be Kai or K Wales. A lot of the time, there’s one of us or a few of us that immediately catch the vibe and once everybody comes in — the magic starts happening. Once that last person lays his verse, we know it’s one of those ones.”Niko Brim on CYN’s creative process
This was prevalent during the group’s production of ELEVEN53, as Ca$h and Brim continue to successfully walk the fine line of embodying the spirit and classic feel of their lyrical golden-era forefathers, but with updated flow patterns, melodies, and subject matter that feels fresh instead of dated. Trading in Tru Religions and triple beams for NFTs, Ebay scams and generational wealth, the project is a breath of fresh air, yet still is synonymous with NYC’s legendary hip-hop roots.
One of the best examples of their refreshing approach is the opening track “Go!” where the pair is joined by Great Dame sounding like true NYC lyricists, but choosing production and pockets that the lyrical-miracle rappers of yesteryear could only dream of. One of Kai and Niko’s secret weapons is their ear for incredibly dynamic production that feels classic and fresh at the same time – brought to you by Y5Mad, BBEARDED, Myles Allen, AVB, and The Woods.
“A major thing we want new listeners to take from this, is that there’s a magic in staying true to yourself and being legendary, authentic and exquisite. With our generation, there’s a lot of times that they make it seem like we’re not really coming with it. But, we’re the gatekeepers. We’re the new, we’re the now and we want people to know we’re here to stay.”Kai Ca$h’s message to Our Generation
Another highlight is the closing track “CYN Anthem,” featuring another standout verse from Kai Ca$h followed by a CYN roll call from Niko, King Combs, ShaqnLivin, K Wales to Great Dame. The posse cut came with a fun unofficial music video showing the group fully assembled – giving a peek into their life on the road and causing some lighthearted mischief at Rolling Loud NYC. There’s also the incredibly dynamic “Sunday Service” featuring K Wales, which opens with a reminder that despite their polished delivery and professional demeanor, “This tour is sponsored by the streets.”
The title of the project comes from the expensive $1,153 citation the group received on tour with Cordae on the way from Vegas to Denver – immortalized by the audio recording of the actual traffic stop straddled between the outro of “The Light” and the intro of the brassy “Kingz”.
“Shit was phenomenal,” Ca$h said of the tour. “We went around the world and had all these crazy moments when we were making music and coming across all these creative people. Over time, the project just kind of created itself — it’s a bunch of ‘spur of the moments.’ We finally got the chance to really see from an outside perspective, of what it is like to receive real love from people that have no idea who we are. They gave us the chance, and every time they gave us a chance, we really wowed them at the end of our show every single time. It was a beautiful experience, we thank Cordae and his team.”
Overall, ELEVEN53 is an incredibly solid EP, giving an inside look at CYN’s full range of abilities over incredibly interesting production. With a bright future ahead, it’s only a matter of time before NYC’s “rap avengers” reunite for a full-length album.
Listen to Kai Ca$h and Niko Brim’s ELEVEN53 below