Columbia Film Festival 2023

Spiritual Cyphers: Hip Hop and the Church

Expired June 25, 2023 3:59 AM
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Ariyan Johnson shares her personal journey about the struggles and triumphs of her two conflicting loves, Hip Hop and the Church. Through research and interviews with pastors, historians, artists, and pioneering women hip hop dance artists, the film explores the burgeoning industry of Hip Hop and its challenge for acceptance within the Church. Spiritual Cyphers is a love story told through, the director- Ariyan Johnson's experiences of her two loves. An account of her coming-of-age journey where the issues of becoming her true authentic self became a struggle as she used her talents in the worlds of Hip Hop and the Black Church. The difficulties of her coming-of-age story in the turbulent times of the late 1980s-90s are discussed with challenges stemming from standing in the gap with the fight against gender biases, her invisibility she felt within the burgeoning industry of Hip Hop, and her own acceptance. Not much has been explored concerning how African American women dancers were a part of Hip Hop’s history or how its culture intersects with spirituality until this film.

The year 2023 marks Hip Hop’s 50th Anniversary, however, not much has been explored concerning how Hip Hop culture intersects with spirituality. Today Hip Hop has become a global phenomenon and African American women were a part of that history, but in the beginning, there was resistance. What similarities to the Blues and Jazz of generations past does Hip Hop share with the Church and the youth? In the late 1980s and 1990s, the Black Church was a staple of the African American community, and Hip Hop, an African American creation, clashed. Spiritual Cyphers: Hip Hop and the Church is the first installment in the documentary film series exploring this era with a visit to the Black Christian Church where correlations of the elements of Hip Hop between the Emcee are made to the Preacher, the Deejay as the Worship Music, the Graffiti (the art and style) as Black Church aesthetics, the B-Boy/B-Girl as the Liturgical Dance Ministry, and Knowledge as the Word of God (Bible). Culture penetrates all…

We find liberation becomes a "dance" toward deliverance that sheds light on this untold story of American History.

  • Year
  • Runtime
  • Language
  • Country
    United States
  • Director
    Ariyan Johnson
  • Screenwriter
    Ariyan Johnson
  • Producer
    Ariyan Johnson, Leslie Saltus Evans
  • Cast
    Ariyan Johnson, Cetra Dance Wilkins, Suncerae Clark Fredericks