All roads lead to Rich Mix in Bethnal Green, on Thurs 25th April as notable Hip-Hop artist Cipher J.E.W.E.L.S hosted the London Launch of his book ‘The Secret Money Manual: Practical strategies for building and maintaining wealth for the Hip Hop generation.’
Cipher Jewels is deservedly well known as founding member of Moorish Delta 7 (MD7), veterans of UK Hip-Hop coming straight out of inner-city Birmingham. Staying true to his early alias ‘Knowledge Scientific’, Cipher has taken on the task of imparting 2 decades of business experience, to a new generation of what he calls “urban survivors”. Though many may regard an MC to be an unlikely source for such a publication, closer inspection reveals that he is as valid and as likely a source as any other. Shattering the popular perception of Hip-Hop artists as mere promoters of vain materialism, ‘The Secret Money Manual‘ provides its readers with the much needed do’s & don’ts of finance management, wealth acquisition & retention as well as investment and self-sufficiency.
The group rose to prominence as Hip-Hop artists in the mid to late 90s when Jungle and Garage music were far more popular choices for the Black Music market. Moorish Delta 7 gathered the inspiration for its name from reading books such as ‘Golden Age Of The Moors’ by Ivan Van Sertima, the works of the legendary Cheik Anta Diop as well as the study of Spiritual Science & numerology. This resulted in a rich foundation of study, life experience & application, as Cipher himself states: “I learned about business from being involved in the music industry. Being an artist and having to build my own independent record company from age 16. When we read about the Moors, we said ‘this is us. Here today’. We recognised our own potential”
The inspiration for the book came from a need to guide the younger generation away from the pitfalls of being educated in everything but, how to manage money. An omission which appears to be specific to inner-city areas, where many are taught the virtues of going to school in order to ‘get a good job‘ rather than starting your own business. Cipher intends to combat this by inspiring young minds to recognise their self-potential and develop this potential into what he calls a “Determined Idea”.
“Everything starts from self-development.” He says. “Growing up, developing yourself, your life experience and gaining that Knowledge of Self. Knowledge of Self is very important. From there, you develop your determined idea, with the vision of something you want to achieve and you put the steps in place in order to achieve it.”
Far more than just an artist, Cipher has been a community activist for many years. An endeavour culminating in the development of the Sankofa Centre encompassing Music Studios, Classrooms for community education and services such as a Pupil Referral Unit and gang intervention. Here is a man who clearly believes in his own ability and is very well motivated to see his visions become a reality. While some may see the transition from artist to author as a major leap, Cipher saw it as a simple shift in his own mindset. When asked to explain how he made the transition, he draws on the example of greats such as Marvin Gaye and Bob Marley, who were great artists, but could easily be classed as prolific Authors if anyone took the time to read what they had to say in book form.
“As an MC I always wanted to make music that people could understand and relate to. That wherever you are you could gain something from what I was saying and make it relevant in your own life. This is the same mentality I took towards writing this book.” And mission accomplished.
Since its release, the manual has been applauded for the way in which it relays vital business concepts with effortless simplicity. ‘The Secret Money Manual‘ is not a ‘How to become a successful artist or music industry mogul’ step by step guide. Rather it imparts skills that can be applied to any area of business. Cipher hopes that the book opens eyes to the possibility of avenues other than music & sport as well as sharpening acumen in those areas. He sees this as his contribution to the tradition of the Ancient Afrikan Griot, providing the people with the stories and information needed in order that the community may better itself.
Inner city areas are infamous for high levels of crime, especially among the Black community. The information provided in ‘The Secret Money Manual’ attempts to impact this reality also. As he says “Growing up we were very much taught to be consumers. We were not taught to be producers”. In areas where lack of academic success seems to result in criminalisation, a greater entrepreneurial spirit backed by solid business know-how would seemingly go a long way towards steering many away from being criminalized. When asked about how this applies to Britains Black community specifically, Cipher breaks it down like this:
“Malcolm X said – ‘When you live in a poor neighborhood, you’re living in an area where you have poor schools. When you have poor schools, you have poor teachers. When you have poor teachers, you get a poor education. Poor education, you can only work in a poor-paying job. And that poor-paying job enables you to live, again, in a poor neighborhood. So it’s a very vicious cycle.’ And that probably applies to us more than anybody else. Everyone else produces what we consume. We have to become producers for ourselves.”
As a result, this author does not intend to just sell books, but conduct seminars for youth and adults. Cipher see’s the potential of the so-called “ghettos” finding upliftment primarily in its own self-sufficiency and so far, the response has been phenomenal. “I spoke to a youth who told me he hadn’t read a book in 10 years and when he heard I wrote a book, he said he had to read it and it rewired his whole way of thinking.”
All in all, it can truly be said that Cipher J.E.W.E.L.S epitomises what it means to give back to your community and make a positive impact upon the world.
The Secret Money Manual London Seminar: Thurs 25th April 2013 @ Rich Mix, 35-47 Bethnal Green Road, London E1 6LA 7pm-11pm