Featured on PBS: Hip Hop Cypher

Featured on PBS: Hip Hop Cypher

We worked with producer Adrian Driscoll and his team at Collimation to create and launch a holographic Hip Hop Cypher in virtual reality. Set in a dark, rat-infested underground NY subway station, each performer was beamed onto our stage as a full-body projection. Original photography by artist Young Guru was featured throughout the space.

The Event & Artists

As part of the Tec Leimert Conference 2022, the Metaverse Hip Hop Cypher event took place simultaneously in both physical and virtual reality. In-person guests at the physical event were invited to don Meta Quest 2 headsets in order to step directly into our underground subway turned art gallery and watch the cypher unfold. Sounds of awe and delight could clearly be heard coming from within the room through the headset microphones.

The lineup was hosted by Gina Views and featured in order of appearance:







The Stage

To imitate the feeling of a guerrilla pop-up event / underground take-over, we fashioned a makeshift stage in the center platform by placing sturdy plywood boards across the top of a central stairwell. Below the stage in the stairwell, we tossed in some decorative blue LED lighting and set up a fog machine to add a rich steamy atmosphere through which the holographic projections could truly shine. We even threw down some old plywood sheets across the tracks so that visitors could traverse safely from the spawn point stairwell to the stage area.

Hologram Hip Hop Cypher in the Metaverse - Reuben Vincent

Within the virtual station, we added some touches of realism that one might find in a real subway platform. Burnt out lights flickered and dropped random sparks. Graffiti was sprayed around on walls. Trash was littered about the floor. A mischief of rats would scurry out from the subway tunnels on unique paths from one side of the station to the other – some of which even managed to climb up the plywood bridges and run across the platform itself. One poor rat was stuck underneath the stage, running around the perimeter looking for a way out. Silly rodent.

The flurry of rats on the move signaled the upcoming arrival of a subway train, as they likely felt the vibrations long before we could. With a rushing squeal the train quickly flies in, comes to a halt, and opens its door just before the first performance begins. Adorning each car of the train, panning digital LED signs would update to reflect the current artist’s name as they began performing.

One very cool feature was that no matter which area of the station you were standing in, the performers’ holograms would always face toward you. This allowed attendees more exploration and play in the space during the performances than a traditional concert would entail, and we believe added to the sense of a true guerrilla performance.