New documentary looks to shine spotlight on NYC’s freestyle rap culture

A new documentary film from Sam Sulam is aiming to shine a light on New York City’s vibrant, and vast, underground freestyle hip-hop scene.

Growing up in Los Angeles, but now based in New York City, director, and photographer Sam Sulam has always been fascinated with the city’s freestyle hip-hop scene.

So, for his next project, Sulam has set out to document this vibrant scene in a new documentary called “Off The Top,” which will showcase the emcees that are bringing back the spirit of the old days of New York hip-hop.

“I wanted to showcase newer artists who are keeping the essence of hip-hop alive in our current landscape,” Sulam said in a press release. “I really miss the old sound, but that’s what I found when I discovered the underground world of the cyphers.”

A “cypher” is a gathering of emcees, beatmakers, and other hip-hop purists who come together, not to compete with each other, but to jam together, and this was prevalent of the early days of hip-hop in NYC when block parties gave rise to the genre that it is today. This is what Sulam means when he says that he finds a lot of the old-school of hip-hop in the cyphers.

Joining him on this quest to show off NYC’s freestyle cyphers is Lex Rush, a native of Queens who has made a name for herself in the freestyle hip-hop world. In fact, the legendary Village Voice has dubbed her the “first lady of freestyle rap,” and she has recently released a new EP, Really Every Day.

You can catch the “Off The Top” documentary now on Stream.



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