A little over 2 years ago I was searching on IG and stumbled on a page called Cypher Circuit, my first impression of the page was that of intrigue. After doing some research, I instantly gained appreciation for the movement that was being created and the energy behind it. I decided to reach out to the page and that’s when I connected with Moe. First, I would like to share that from the moment we connected, I realized that Moe is a very passionate, supportive, genuine visionary with an entrepreneurial spirit. Two years later my opinion is the same with a added respect for his work ethic and drive to create an awesome platform for so many people while doing what he loves. I recently had the opportunity to speak with Moe a bit more about through a Q&A about his history, inspiration, long term goals and more. Get to know more about MoeKnowsBest, along with the vision for the platform Cypher Circuit and future endeavors.
For people who might not know the visionary behind Cypher Circuit, please introduce yourself, let the people know where you are from, and little history about your experience in the music industry.
Online I go by the moniker MoeKnowsBest. I am originally from Long Island, and like most kids who grew up in New York in the 90s, my friends and I were rhyming, breaking and house-dancing in clubs, catching tags and getting into trouble. After I graduated high school I moved to Pittsburgh, where I established a pretty good name for myself as a b-boy and eventually started getting into the business side of things. I began promoting events and I did a mix of underground Hip-Hop shows (featuring all of the elements of Hip-Hop) as well as concerts with some of the biggest names in the industry. After Pittsburgh I moved to Miami. At the time, online marketing was really starting to take off, and I happened to be at the right place at the right time to get in on the ground floor for a lot of what is currently happening on the web now.
Around what year did you start promoting events and who were some the artists you worked with ?
I started promoting in 1998 for a small spot in the South Side of Pittsburgh called Zythos. I was only 19 years old and not even old enough to get into the bar. The owner (who didn’t know my age) let me have Thursdays, and I started a Hip-Hop party. After a couple of months of doing that, I ambitiously decided to throw an event at the biggest club in the city, Metropol, and when the owner of Zythos found out he actually fired me. Fortunately, the event was a huge success—700+ people on a Monday night—and I remember thinking to myself that night, “Well I guess I know what I am going to do for the rest of my life.” After packing out that venue on a Monday I could pretty write my own ticket with any club in the city, and over the next 5 years I went on to promote events featuring such act as Atmosphere, LootPack, Lone Catalysts, Virtuoso, C-Rayz Walz, Just Allah, Arsonists, Mr. Complex, Biz Markie, Redman, Tony Touch, Wyclef, Beenie Man, De La Soul, Wu Tang Clan and the list goes on. I also organized the very first Hip-Hop event ever thrown at the Andy Warhol Museum. To this day that is still one of my proudest accomplishments.
Can you tell us about the latest platform you are working on ? The name of it and the concept behind it?
Currently, I am working on Cypher Circuit. It’s a membership platform for Hip-Hop and it is essentially a social network. The base of the brand is a website that features artist profiles, but we also have a studio in Philly (Marsten House) where we regularly host cyphers, a weekly podcast called #InTheCypher, and very successful weekly Instagram cypher called #MurderTheBeat. The goal of the brand is to provide our members with an outlet to actually participate in the Hip-Hop culture—stripping away the typical rapper mind state of being a part of Hip-Hop simply to become rich and famous.
What are some of the differences you find in working with artists today compared to in 1998?
Today is a completely different time. The internet changed everything. I feel like a lot of artists are dealing with the psychological shock that the music industry just isn’t the same anymore. In 1998 it was not easy to put out music, so when an artist actually put something out it was a big deal. It required substantial effort and financial investments, which eliminated a lot of those who were not-so-serious. But today, everyone can do it, so the game is completely oversaturated. From what I see, a lot of today’s artists are not receiving the type of results they want, which leaves them either burnt out or disenchanted. But that is what we are trying to change with Cypher Circuit. By creating a peer-to-peer network that pushes the idea of doing Hip-Hop for the love, we’re creating community of individuals who are truly taking part in the art form for the right reasons.
With the internet and social media platforms being a major component with how artists and businesses promote their art or product’s, like music, the internet is evolving rapidly. How can one stay ahead and make sure they don’t miss the next wave before it is too late.
The key to that is staying involved. When new social media platforms pop up, use them. When new features come out, take advantage of them. It’s easy to think that you don’t need to do the “new thing” because the current thing is working for you, but continuing to do something just because you like it rather than getting involved with what people are starting to do next, is how end up getting left behind.
Often, many artists get lost in the numbers and internet stats? Any advice for artists on how to not lose the quality and artistic integrity of their music while still being able to achieve success?
You always need to do you, but if you are trying to gauge your actual reach and what people really think about your music, the numbers and internet stats do matter. The mistake a lot of people make is getting caught up in the numbers that have nothing to do with their thing. For example, you can’t compare an underground rapper’s stats to the types of numbers that someone like the ‘Catch Me Outside’ girl is doing. They’re two different things. At the end of the day though, you need to decide why you are making music. Are you doing it to express yourself and the satisfaction comes from the process is enough for you, or are you doing it to become popular? I believe there can be a balance, but too often artists get lost going too far in one of those two directions.
I know it takes a lot of time and energy to create and maintain a platform such as Cypher Circuit. About how many hours daily do you put into the platform and what does an average day consist of? Any specific foods or drinks you go to starting off your day?
Hahahahaha. How many hours? Honestly, there is work going into Cypher Circuit from the minute I wake up until moment I go to sleep. There is always something, and although I am still very hands on with a lot of the day-to-day tasks, I am really fortunate to have a great team that helps me manage everything. My typical days consists of lots of phone calls with Kevin, Steve and Coast, answering emails, designing and uploading promotional materials, and overseeing all of our social media activities. I try to personally chime in on comments and DMs as much as possible to assure that we are constantly in the loop with people’s attempts to communicate with us. Between 600 members and 20,000 IG followers, there is a lot. And to answer your question about specific foods and drinks: My diet is whatever, but coffee is always on the menu.
What inspires you daily?
I love the work. I am keenly aware of how fortunate I am to be able to do what I do, so my inspiration comes from the fact that I am right here right now.
What have been some of your failures, and what have been the most valuable lessons you have learned from them?
I don’t really look at any of my past efforts as failures. They all served a purpose in getting me to where I am at right now. Over the years though, there have been a few valuable lessons that really stuck with me. The first is that I only get involved with things that I am actually into. Business—and especially on the entrepreneurial level—is a lot of work, so if you don’t like what you are working towards, you probably won’t give it your full effort. The second is to learn the industry that you are entering. If you don’t know the rules and the ins-and-outs of the game you’re playing, you’re pretty much relying on luck for any chance of winning. Lastly, surround yourself with the right people. Having the wrong people around your is the easiest way to get held back.
Besides your company, what company or business do you admire the most and why ?
If I had to pick one, it would be Apple. In my opinion, they are the pinnacle when it comes to combining innovation in functionality with esthetic in areas like marketing and product design.
Are there any books you have read that have played a major role inspiring you or that have been instrumental in the development of your vision?
The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho and How to Win at the Sport of Business by Mark Cuban.
How do you go about marketing Cypher Circuit ? What has been your most successful form of networking and spreading the word about Cypher Circuit?
Everyone who is on our team contributes professional services, so we are able to present ourselves in a very professional manner. So first and foremost, everything we put out is on point. After that I would say creative techniques and consistent execution. As for our most successful form of networking, I would definitely say #MurderTheBeat. That particular promotion is a perfect example of how to take advantage of today’s technology and the current social media trends. That is how most people find out about us.
Where do you see Cypher Circuit in 3 years from now ?
I definitely have a plan and a specific vision, but some things just aren’t meant to be public information.
Are you currently working on any other projects we should know about ? If so can you share some information with us about the project ?
We just released our first official mixtape called #InWithThePlug. Our new video/podcast studio is about to open Queens. We are currently locking in venues for a 14 day tour that we are doing in August. And we are also working on the official Cypher Circuit album. The future’s looking bright.
Any finals words of wisdom or knowledge you could share with artists and visionaries who are currently trying to live their dreams?
Make it happen. Everyone has ideas, and everyone thinks they know how to do everything better, but very few are willing to get out there and do the work. The only thing stopping you from accomplishing your goals is you. Everything else is an excuse.