Enter the Beat Cypher with LA’s Team Supreme (Djemba Djemba, Virtual Boy, Great Dane, Nalepa +)

This week we investigate the Team Supreme Beat Cypher, a weekly beat-driven freestyle collaboration between a group of producers in Los Angeles — and one of the most original ideas this side of the mixtape.

The beat cypher: Take a group of talented producers, give them each two samples and a pre-selected BPM, and allow each person approximately one hour to make a one-minute beat. Then take all the clips, put them beginning to end (with the same intro between and the same sample used throughout each production), and the result is a hybrid of the mixtape and a rhythmic, production-based freestyle session. “The beautiful thing about Team Supreme is that at its essence, it is a game, it’s fun and it encourages a sense of playfulness,” explains Professor Nalepa, who is a part of the weekly cypher and a mentor to many of its younger producers.

The idea of the Team Supreme beat cypher happened between friends Dane Morris (Great Dane) and Preston James (of Virtual Boy), both young producers who have been performing frequently at beat- and bass-driven events such as LA’s Low End Theory. “Me and Preston were hanging out and we decided to have a little unofficial project to make a beat in an hour at the same BPM with the same vocal sample, ‘My team supreme, stay clean’ (a Biggie quote),” explains Morris. “After we finished up we put them back to back and thought it would be cool to try it on a bigger scale with more producers. That first little project turned into Team Supreme Vol. 1.” And as it happened, Team Supreme kept building momentum and currently hosts fifteen (including this week) cyphers and a talented team of producers. “We started with just our close producer friends mostly in LA or Orange County, but now we have people sending in beats from NY, Colorado, Portland and more,”

The current Team Supreme lineup includes: Djemba Djemba, King Henry, Papi, Preston James, Great Dane, Fuzz, Kloud, DJ Nobody, Dot, ELOS, Kenny Segal, .anansi, Nalepa, Snorlax and Colta. “It has grown steadily,” explains Nalepa. “Other producers have been reaching out and wanting to get involved, and we’ve had special guest tracks from other artist friends. We’ve got two live shows under our belt, each featured 15 different artists each doing 20 minute sets over 5 hours, and it was free!”

Colta and Djemba Djemba at Team Supreme Vol 2 @ La Cita, Los Angeles

“Having that sort of positive creative environment, something so supportive and encouraging, is really a delight,” explains Nalepa. “It has everyone making new music each week, so everybody’s skills are getting honed and sharpened.‬ We’re 15 rounds in now, that’s a new song a week for almost 4 months. ‪The plan is to keep going with it, doing a new beat tape each week and a show each month.‬ ‪We do plan to expand on what we are doing, but you’ll have to stay tuned to find out where it goes next.‬ There’s a real feeling of excitement around it. There are some very talented and very accomplished producers involved, and there are no weak links.”

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[...] and warm and fat,” explains Dubspot’s Professor Nalepa, who says that members of his Team Supreme collective in Los Angeles are fans of the plug-in as well. “Mike [Parvizi of Virtual Boy] likes to put [...]