Cyrus Harper follows his heart because it always leads him right back home, right back to where he needs to be.
Home, for Harper, sits in the corner of Walnut Road and Duncan Street on Massillon’s southwest side. A big blue and white building filled to the brim with love and bursting opportunity. Growing up, he says with a smile standing in the game room of the Massillon Boys and Girls Club, this building certainly felt like home.
“The building looks newer, it didn’t look exactly like this when I was here,” Harper said leaning against a pool table, his hands in his pockets. “But this was my home for a long time.”
Growing up in Massillon, Harper spent many of his days at the Boys and the Girls Club participating in the games, programs and activities it offered. There, he made lifelong friends and found mentors who gave him the strength and courage to follow his dreams and believe in himself.
With support and compassion from the Boys and Girls Club family, Harper found the strength to face some of life’s biggest challenges and achieve some of his greatest goals. He finished college, earning a degree in marketing, and he’s piecing together a musical career as a rapper, going by the professional name “Cy Harp.”
He’s also working hard to be sure that other Boys and Girls Club children can walk confidently toward their biggest dreams. He wants to prove to them that he believes in them, he cares about them and he’s there to help — no matter what.
“I’ve dealt with the harsh realities, but I believe I am in the right place, now,” Harper said. “You have to work to make (the world) better. You give back.”
Several times a month, Harper visits the club to spend time with the children. Several times a year, he organizes fundraisers and community collection drives to be sure that the kids at the club have food for Thanksgiving dinner and gifts for Christmas.
“I think it’s important to be a role model that kids can see, someone they can see in their neighborhoods,” Harper said. “Nobody goes out and sees LeBron in their neighborhood, but they can see me.”
On Sept. 24, Harper was recognized for being the kind of role model that kids and their families can depend on. At the Ohio Hip-Hop Awards in Columbus, he received the Daymon Mumford Humanitarian Award for service.
It’s fitting, really, that his community service recognition would come from the hip-hop community because its music that makes his service possible. It’s music that gives him the platform to make a difference.
Much of the funding that drives Harper’s community service comes from concert revenue. Admittedly, Harper doesn’t have a whole lot to give, but he gives all that he can.
“People always try to use excuses,” Harper said. “You don’t need to have a lot of money to give back, just give something. It’s the thought, in general, that matters, the thought that makes a difference. Show your faith.”
Music, also, gives Harper the chance to change his world because it gives him a platform to share messages of hope.
“All of my music has a positive message, I may be harsh, but with that comes the positive,” Harper said. “In the end, when you break it down, you can see the positive message.”
Growing up, Harper faced what he calls the “cruel realities” that life sometimes offers. As his mother battled a drug addiction and his brother fought demons of his own that ultimately led to his incarceration, Harper found strength in rap music.
Crafting his own place in the hip-hop community, Harper writes and performs with as much honesty and integrity as he can. Sure his music is hard-hitting, but it’s honest. He speaks openly and bluntly about injustices in the world and mistakes that lead people down paths of destruction.
It’s harsh, he said, but it’s the truth. And that’s all he wants to be — honest.
“The glorification of hip-hop only tells one side of the story,” Harper said. “A lot of rappers may rap about selling drugs and getting the fancy cars, but they don’t tell you about what happens when you get caught. …They don’t tell the whole truth.”
For Harper, the truth is a very simple thing. It’s also the most important thing.
When you are honest with yourself about who you are and where you’re going, you can see how far you’ve come. The key is remembering the journey. It’s about honoring those who helped you along the way and working to make sure you do the same for others.
Really, Harper said, it’s all about finding your way home.
ARTICLE BY: ERIN PUSTAY