Who We Are


J. Griffith Rollefson (Principal Investigator) is professor of music at University College Cork, National University of Ireland and principal investigator of the 5-year community-engaged ERC research project, CIPHER: Hip Hop Interpellation, which will map hip hop knowledge flows on six continents.  Rollefson is author of Flip the Script: European Hip Hop and the Politics of Postcoloniality (University of Chicago Press, 2017) and the forthcoming Critical Excess: Watch the Throne and the New Gilded Age (University of Michigan Press, 2020).  He has served on the faculties of music at the University of Cambridge and at the University of California, Berkeley, where he also served as UC Chancellor’s Public Scholar.  Rollefson’s research has been recognized by the Volkswagen Stiftung, DAAD, ACLS, British Academy, and European Commission and is published in Black Music Research JournalAmerican Music, Popular Music and Society, in the edited volumes Hip Hop in Europe, Native Tongues: An African Hip Hop ReaderThe Oxford Handbook of Hip Hop Studies, and elsewhere.  He tweets @cybergriff and @GlobalCipher.  More info at https://europeanhiphop.org/


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Warrick Moses (Postdoctoral Fellow) received his PhD in African and African American Studies with a secondary field in Ethnomusicology from Harvard University in May 2019. His dissertation project, In the Mix, explores expressions of “mixed race” or “coloured” socio-political, linguistic, and cultural identity in Cape Town-based hip hop music.

Warrick’s academic interests include Afrofuturism from the continent; performativity and/of Blackness; Diasporic musical praxis; and applied ethnomusicology. Warrick also holds a Master of Woodwind Performance degree from Boston University, and a Master of Arts degree (Ethnomusicology) from Tufts University. 





Jason Ng (Postdoctoral Fellow) is a graduate of Monash University in Melbourne Australia. He has diverse experience in Man standing against a white wall researching and teaching communications, globalization, media studies and cultural studies in Australia and across Asia. His PhD research examines contemporary hip hop exchanges facilitated by passionate community leaders framed as cross-cultural intermediaries. These cultural agents work at the intersection of local hip hop forms and international flows of content and communications (around dance, music and the broader cultural ethos) through cultural entrepreneurship, social activism and working with corporate and governmental bodies to create sustainable businesses, events and work for creatives in the Asia-Pacific region.

Through ethnographic case studies across five global cities (Incorporating Tokyo, Bangkok, Shanghai, Melbourne and Singapore) Jason’s thesis provides a cross-national comparative lens to examine the influence of these figures and their work in facilitating local and regional connectivity and belonging. In addition to his PhD research, Jason also has an extensive knowledge of the field from his own critical practice as an artist (through dance, film, music, theatre and event management) and long-term participation in hip hop culture.


Maria FitzGerald Houlihan (Research Support Officer) has a First Class Honours Degree in English and Geography from University College Cork and was UCC College Scholar in 2017. Maria has an established interest in African American literature and postcolonial studies. Her research interests are in Ecocriticism and Nature Writing particularly the eco-critical turn in Irish women’s poetry.  Maria has worked with the European Commission in Brussels and international education.




Gustavo Souza Marques (Research Assistant - Hip Hop Studies), also known as Gusmão, is a scholar,
music producer and PhD student at UCC researching the musical work of Tyler, the Creator. During his masters, studied the biggest hip hop street event in Brazil: Duelo de MCs (an event in which he participated as an MC as well). Before that, Gustavo was the drummer for Julgamento, a live hip-hop band, from 2007 to 2014 — one of the biggest rap acts from Minas Gerais state during that era. In 2015, Gusmão released his debut album No Grave do Groove which included features from Brazilian hip hop artists such as Hot, Barbara Sweet, Kdu dos Anjos and João Paiva. Now Gustavo is looking forward to connect his hip hop knowledge with the international community. His main research interests are race, performance, cultural studies, digital humanities and music production.




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Dr. Steven Gamble (Marie Curie Research Fellow) is a fellow of the European Commission’s Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions and author of How Music Empowers: Listening to Modern Rap and Metal (forthcoming from Routledge). Following undergraduate study at the University of Surrey and Masters study at the University of Oxford, he completed a PhD in Music at Kingston University London. Prior to the postdoc, he taught and established an academic skills department at BIMM Institute, Brighton. His research has been published in Popular Music, the Journal on the Art of Record Production, and Metal Music Studies (for which he serves as a member of the editorial advisory board). As an active member of European popular music studies communities, he has spoken at conferences of the International Association for the Study of Popular Music  and the Royal Musical Association. 

Steve’s postdoctoral project Digital Flows maps hip hop knowledge flows online. His research expands the study of digital-native hip hop, drawing upon his research interests including music and the Internet, recorded music, and experiences of listening and fandom.

0phelia McCabe (Artist, PhD Researcher) 0phelia is an underground hip hop MC, electronic music producer, improviser, poet, and educator. 0phelia is known for her live performance quality. She has opened for and collaborated with a stream of national and international hip-hop artists since 1999 -- Ice Cube, Tony Allen, Maverick Sabre, Sage Francis, Pharaohe Monch, De La Soul, Ultramagnetic MCs, and others. Nationally, she has toured with Damien Dempsey, been a member of Mixtapes From the Underground for 10 years, and established meaningful creative bonds with hip hop artists all over Ireland, including, The Unscene (Limerick), Choice Cuts (Dublin), Cutting Heads Collective (Cork), This Side Up (Sligo), DJ Moschops, G-Frequency, Costello, and Temper-Mental MissElayneous, to name a few. PakAnimal is her most recent and exciting experiment whereby she forms unique one-off bands on a monthly basis to improvise songs to a live audience. 

0phelia graduated with a masters in music performance, specializing in voice, from C.I.T. Cork School of Music in 2018 and has been facilitating youth expression through hip hop since 2007 for organisations such as The Axis Ballymun, Rua Red, YWIC, Leargas, Music Generation Cork City, Cork Midsummer Festival, SoundOut, Music Mashup and most recently The Kabin Studio, Cork.  0phelia is fascinated by rhythm and freestyle. As part of the CIPHER Team, she will be conducting arts practice based research in ciphers across North America and Europe


James McNally (Marie Curie Research Fellow) is a writer and cultural historian with a long history as a rap critic. He has taught at the University of East London and the University of Bristol – where he was post-doctoral researcher on the AHRC project Regional Rap in Post-Devolution Britain. A sociologist by training, James’ hip-hop scholarship is highly interdisciplinary. It appears in Visual Culture in BritainJournal of the Society for American Music and Global Hip-Hop Studies. His completed PhD provides the first full history of hip-hop’s arrival in London in the 1980s and is the basis for his forthcoming book, Future Shock London.


James' current project, the  Long Island Rap Renaissance, explores the era-defining explosion of hip-hop innovation that emerged from New York’s Black outer-suburbs from the late 1980s. Entwined with this is an account of the changing history of race, class and geography in New York during the post-Civil Rights decades. The project both illuminates hip-hop's little considered suburban history, and the emergence of, and changing textures within, Black suburban life on Long Island. Outside academia,  James was Staff Writer at the British magazine  Hip-Hop Connection for nearly a decade. He has contributed to a wide variety of media projects, including the album analysis podcast series  Decode.


Janne Rantala (Marie Curie Research Fellow) is a  southern Africa based Hip Hop scholar. He will be a Marie
Skłodowska-Curie postdoctoral fellow with his project ‘ Performing Political Memory’, which will focus on Hip Hop's performance of historical knowledge in three cities. With his original concept ‘political ancestor’, his research cuts across the rarely-associated fields of global Hip Hop studies and political memory studies in southern Africa. Currently, as an associate researcher in the Instituto dos Estudos Sociais e Económicos, Maputo, he serves as a lead researcher in the EC funded project, conducting participatory fieldwork about conflicts and peace building in five provinces. He is also a research fellow in Africa Open Institute for Music, Research and Innovation in Stellenbosch University. He defended his PhD in cultural anthropology in 2017 at the University of Eastern Finland and at 2018-2019 he was a Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in the Centre for Humanities Research, University of the Western Cape (UWC).
His stand-out paper about Mozambican rap is ‘‘Hidrunisa Samora’: Invocations of a Dead Political Leader in Maputo Rap’, published in the Journal of Southern African Studies (JSAS). This publication led him to win the journal’s Colin Murray Grant, awarded annually for engaged and original fieldwork. He also contributed to the first two anthologies about Lusophone Hip-Hop, of which one in English (2018) and another in Portuguese (2019). More recently he has been busy with two submissions about 1. sampling the region, panafricanism and Indian Ocean music world in Chimoio, and 2. sonic biography of Mozambican alternative hero Uria Simango. In addition to his academic interests, he is an emergent radio feature maker and a member of the international Hip Hop collective, Interligados. Among other activities, he designed a general theme for the group’s song ‘O Poder dos Fracos’ (Power of the Weak), which gave name to the group’s debut album .


CIPHER International Advisory Board:

Murray Forman, Northeastern University – USA, Canada

Adam Haupt, University of Cape Town – Southern Africa

Sina Nitzsche, Ruhr University Bochum – Germany, USA

Hisham Aidi, Columbia University – France, North Africa

Dawn-Elissa Fischer, San Francisco State University / Harvard Hip Hop Archive – USA, Brazil, Japan

Justin Williams, University of Bristol – UK, USA

Elliott Powell, University of Minnesota – South Asian Diaspora

Wayne Marshall, Berklee College of Music – Circum-Caribbean

Catherine Appert, Cornell University – West Africa, USA

Nabeel Zuberi University of Auckland – Aotearoa/New Zealand, UK

Mark Villegas, Franklin & Marshall College – USA, Philippines

Noriko Manabe, Temple University – Japan, USA

Tony Mitchell, University of Technology, Sydney – Australia, Pacific Islands (Honorary)


Consulting Area Specialists

Italy - Enrico Zammarchi, Gonzaga University


CIPHER Media Advisor:

Marcus Collins, University of Michigan


CIPHER Computational Advisors:

Barry O’Sullivan, Insight Centre for Data Analytics

Orla Murphy, UCC, Digital Arts and Humanities

David Murphy, UCC, Computer Science

James O’Sullivan, UCC, Digital Arts and Humanities

Shawn Day, UCC, Digital Arts and Humanities

CIPHER ERC Research Team Wandesford Quay Research Centre Cork, Ireland,