The windows in First Avenue’s Record Room were getting steamy around midnight. It was the first Friday of the month, meaning the Get Cryphy hip-hop dance party was in full swing … or thrust. Hands were in the air and pelvises were doing things that make fathers-to-be hope for boys.
Ashley Manshak, a regular, was anchored in front of a speaker, slugging champagne from the bottle. “We get bottles here, that’s how we do!” the 28-year-old hollered before Lil Jon’s “Get Low” drowned out all conversation.
Earlier that week, Get Cryphy’s rap-banger brain trust — Plain Ole Bill, Jimmy 2 Times, DJ Fundo and Last Word — gathered at the home of Last Word (a k a Drew Erickson) to discuss what we can only assume was top-secret DJ stuff. With Fundo (Chris Young) about to leave for a tour with Prof, it would be the last chance they had to assemble before Get Cryphy’s fifth-anniversary party this Friday in the First Avenue Mainroom.
“We wanted to play the rap that we thought was getting the shaft in the club world, because it was too high-energy, where clubs didn’t want to see it played because it would get too crazy,” said co-founder Jimmy 2 Times (Dan Marcoulis) of Cryphy’s origins. “We wanted to embrace all that stuff.”
The Marcoulis-coined term “cryphy” is a combination of crunk and hyphy, two amped-up hip-hop subgenres. Not surprisingly, the monthly dance party has built a reputation as being one of the Twin Cities’ most raucous. But it didn’t happen overnight.
Plain Ole Bill (Bill Hebl) recalled Cryphy’s first few months in the Record Room (then known as First Ave’s VIP Room) in 2008. “There were people literally coming up to us and saying, ‘Why are you playing this right now?’ ” the co-founder said.
But eventually the four turntable technicians built a strong following. Friday’s party comes exactly five years after the first Cryphy, which drew 88 attendants. Last year’s fourth birthday bash sold out the Mainroom.
While Get Cryphy’s affinity for wild-out rap anthems might seem to put it at odds with Minneapolis’ backpack brigade, the four-pronged party crew is now entrenched in the local hip-hop scene. All of the members are respected DJs in their own right. Plain Ole Bill has worked with P.O.S. and Brother Ali, Fundo serves as Prof’s DJ, Jimmy 2 Times spins at an inhuman number of dance nights and Last Word has an upcoming project with rising rapper MaLLy.
For Last Word, affirmation that Get Cryphy can throw bows through subgenre walls came during a gig supporting Atmosphere at the legendary Red Rocks Amphitheatre in Colorado last year. The DJs debated playing it safe, but ultimately stuck to their party-rap recipe and won over Slug’s and Ant’s indie-rap crowd. “That was like a realization right then,” Last Word said. “We can do what we want to do and people are going to be into it.”
In March, Get Cryphy will again hit the road with Atmosphere on the outstate Welcome to Minnesota tour. But this Friday the ever-hyped DJ crew won’t have to worry about winning over someone else’s crowd. They’ve got their own.
Get Cryphy Five Year Anniversary
With: Plain Ole Bill, Jimmy 2 Times, DJ Fundo and Last Word, with guests MaLLy and St. Paul Slim.
When: 9 p.m. Fri.
Where: First Avenue.
5 steps to building a Successful club night
Building a hot DJ night doesn’t happen in a flash. Want to try your hand? In honor of five strong years, the Get Cryphy DJs compiled a five-point plan for doing it right.
1. Stick to your guns
Plain Ole Bill: “Come up with a concept and do it. Don’t be scared. If it’s not quite working the way you hoped it would, you’ve got to keep doing it. If you want something to be different and unique, you have to stick to something.”
Last Word: “We need more people that can do one thing really well instead of someone who tries to do a number of things kind of OK.”
2. Make sure your party’s actually a party
Jimmy 2 Times: “Don’t make it about you.”
Plain Ole Bill: “You could be onto the newest cool thing, but at the end of the day it needs to be a group of people in a room that are sharing a space, collectively being like, ‘This is awesome.’ Be mindful of the people in the room and what they want to get down to.”
3. Properly promote
Last Word: “Overpromoting is going to kill something because it doesn’t seem like it’s going to be that cool — and not promoting enough is sort of obvious.”
DJ Fundo: “Don’t beat them over the head. If you beat them over the head, it sounds like you’re desperate.”
4. Actually be good at what you’re trying to do
Marcoulis: “The skill level of a DJ really, really adds to a nightlife experience. I’ve been in clubs where the DJ wasn’t mixing the songs right and the energy level was never going to get [there].”
Plain Ole Bill: “There are so many different angles to DJing: the technical aspects, style, having an arc. Come correct with your idea.”
5. From clubs to creatives, work with good people
Plain Ole Bill: “Be willing to build with people who want to build with you.”
Last Word: “As much as it is a [working] relationship, it starts to become more of a friendship.”
Plain Ole Bill: “You have to have a mutual respect for each other in what you are doing to really make something happen.” Michael Rietmulder