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About The Show

The Cipher is the critically acclaimed hip-hop podcast formerly known as Outside the Lines With Rap Genius. It was created by host Shawn Setaro while he was Editor-in-Chief of The Cipher is a revamped, improved version of the same great show. Join us every Tuesday for exclusive, in-depth interviews with important figures in Hip-Hop.

Expect to hear from your favorite rappers and producers as well as authors, poets, scholars and industry power players. Check out the archives for great episodes you may have missed.

If you enjoy the show, please help keep it going by supporting us on Patreon.

About Your Host

Shawn Setaro is a noted writer and cultural historian. He has written for The Atlantic, The Source, Vibe, Esquire, GQ, and more. He is the former Editor-in-Chief of Rap Genius. He has been a speaker at Columbia, The New School, and the Schomburg Center for Black Culture, and has been quoted as a hip-hop expert in The Wall Street Journal, The New York Daily News, The Dallas Observer, and The Chicago Tribune.

He is also a Berklee-educated bassist and guitarist who has recorded and performed with The Dresden Dolls, Amanda Palmer, the Lordz of Brooklyn, Alina Simone, and tons more.

About Your Producer

Josh Kross has been recording and producing audio for well over 2 decades. Starting in high school on analog 4-tracks, he’s worked with several musical and podcast projects over the years. Somewhere, there’s even a recording of a Hamlet-themed cover of “Walk on the Wild Side” he and the “unofficial third Cipher” Brian the Solar Assassin (who is also Josh’s bandmate) produced with Shawn back in their high school days. Specializing in Logic and Pro Tools, Josh has a full mobile recording and production set up and is available for other projects on demand. Contact him through

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What People Are Saying About Us

High Snobiety
A Beginner's Guide to the Best Podcasts on the Web
“A musician himself, Setaro’s relationship with hip-hop is profound; he makes effortless use of his vast music knowledge. There’s nothing quite like learning about the history of music from an expert like Shawn Setaro.”
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SF Weekly
Moment of Truth: The Cipher, Oliver Wang, and Filipino Turntablists in The Bay
“It’s a quintessential listen for every serious hip-hop fan and with each episode, Setaro provides extremely well-researched interviews with the biggest names in hip-hop.”
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Mental Floss
Pod City Crash Course: 19 Music Podcasts That’ll Make You Sing
“Host Shawn Setaro has amassed quite a roster of interviewees. Propelled by his curiosity and hip-hop expertise, his conversations go deeper than most other shows.”
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12 Music Podcasts You Should Be Listening To
“There is a shockingly small market for hip-hop podcasts that aim to dig deeper into the music, but The Cipher does just that.”
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The Best Podcasts About Music
“In-depth conversations with hip-hop heavies old and new.”
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Ten Great Music Podcasts
“Interviews are in-depth and revealing, and catch the listener off-guard with their frankness. In short, they make you wish all interview subjects could be this unguarded and entertaining.”
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