The Soul of the Soul Food Cypher

Meet Alex “Cost One“ Acosta

By Kai Smith on November 26, 2019 @legitlacesatl


Meet Alex “Cost One” Acosta, the co-founder and executive director of the Soul Food Cypher. You may be asking yourself, “What exactly is a cypher?”. Now, there can be some negative stereotypes attached to the word, but Alex refutes this whole heartedly.

In Acosta’s own words, a cypher is “a circle in which art takes place… it’s raw and authentic, and an on-the-spot microcosm of our community.” Cyphers and the lyrics flowing from them are a, “mechanism of survival and healing” for many individuals, according to Acosta. While it may seem like a loud and unorganized circle of people, a cypher is actually very well structured. In the circle, Emcees (rappers) take turns improvising lyrics in real time. The goal of each Emcee is to present their authentic self and inspire the next Emcee to perform and do the same. Surrounding this group of Emcees is the audience. They not only listen to the current Emcee, but also provide real-time feedback by their vocal reaction. 

Acosta had taken this creative expression to the next level when he co-founded the Soul Food Cypher in 2012. He and other trusted members have worked to create a safe space that encourages fellowship, applauds individuality, and most of all provides a nurturing environment for the art and community to grow. Additionally, The Soul Food Cypher has facilitated multiple events and programs over the last 8 years. One of these programs is a  local after school program called WordShop. The goal of this program is to expose children to new forms of creative expression and teach them the history behind Hip Hop Culture and its African roots. Acosta mentioned how these programs and The Soul Food Cypher has allowed him the unique opportunity to watch and shape the personal development of the members and children across Atlanta.

Alex has been coming to Kupcakerie for the last three years since our doors opened to the public. Whether it’s critiques on a new movie, conversations around the impact of culture and city development, or recommending music to play in the shop, a friendship between us and Alex has grown. Hopefully one day, The Soul Food Cypher will be hosted at Kupcakerie!