Ok, quick environment setup. Sold out event for RedBull national freestyle champion bragging rights/perks held in Detroit & attended by pretty much anybody who’s anybody in Michigan Hip-Hop. If that isn’t enough, 1 of the 3 judges of the event is the pride & joy of Michigan artist, the best person doing it by lightyears, Eminem himself. Even national hip hop names from outside of Michigan were in attendance such as Bun-B, DJ Jazzy Jeff & the members of Slaughterhouse(Royce da 5’9” is from Detroit) who also performed after the battle. Ok, stage is set…
Bare with me on this. It all of this happened a week ago & I didn’t take notes. This is how I remember things. Eight battlers from around the country are set to take on each other tourney style with a new format in each round. I am going to run through the first two rounds pretty quickly as to get to the real eye opener, the finals. Also, my memory sucks ass.
Key Moments of the 1st Round:
The very 1st battle of the night took place between a kid from NY that goes by D.N.A. and someone else. The fact that I don’t remember the name of the other kid should tell you who won. The theme of the 1st round is that each competitor is shown 5 images immediately before it is his time to freestyle and he must try to incorporate these images into his rhymes as much as possible. Many people weren’t fond of the idea, but I for one really enjoyed it. Really shut down the constant problem/worry of emcees spending all month writing/memorizing their freestyle material. “The Guy that Lost” goes 1st. He utilizes the images, coast through his turn & has a respectable showing. Im currently thinking, “Four more rounds of this is gonna suck Gabby Sidibe’s ass. Oh well, on to the next.” D.N.A. gets his 5 images to use, gets counted down to start……..and procedes to DUMB. THE. FUCK. OUT!!!!!! You wanna talk about a complete 180 of the possibilities of this battle format. This guy is rhyming about the images he has just been shown less than 30 seconds ago in a way that would destroy many rappers if they were allowed to write all month. Even if D.N.A. would’ve won with only 2 of the 3 judges’ votes, it still would’ve been the biggest upset since Golden State knocked the Mavericks out of the 1st round of the NBA playoffs. Now my current thoughts are different. 60 seconds ago, I was thinking how this should just be an easy coast for hometown favorite Fowl. Not only does he have the Detroit homefield advantage, but he’s also just that fucking unfuckwittable in the freestyle game. This was just a reminder that this contest was open to the entire country and the country has talent. Not only that, but there are still 5 more emcees that Ive never heard before. Anyway, to keep it moving…
Another notable battle took place between a tall white guy and an emcee known as “HeadKrack”. If any of you tune into the Rickey Smiley Morning Show, then to answer your question, yes. This was the very same HeadKrack comedian that co-host that very morning radio show. HeadKrack goes first. I would tell all of the aspiring emcees to take notes at this part because its very important, but it also seems like something you shouldn’t need notes to know. The same way you are requested to sing a solo at a church function and KNOW that performing Waka Flocka – Hard in the Paint is a bad idea, you should KNOW that opening a battle in a distant city with an insult to something about that city is a dumbass idea. His 1st rhyme ended with something about the white guy losing more than the Detroit Lions. Want to know what his 2nd rhyme was? So would I, but unfortunately, not even the white guy in his face could hear it…..over all of the booing. We know how this works people! You can’t diss something that your fans love unless they know that you love it too. You could’ve opened your battle with “NIGGA NIGGA NIGGA NIGGA NIGGA/ TRIGGA TRIGGA TRIGGA TRIGGA TRIGGA!”& nobody would’ve given a fuck. Your competitor on the other hand would’ve never made it past “NI”. So anyway, needless to say, the white guy was pretty good(not even close to D.N.A. good though (pause)) and won.
Fowl vs. NoCanDo:
I know Fowl. He’s a fellow member of the Blat! Pack along with myself. I know what he’s capable of, but this is my first time seeing him on such a grand stage. Add the jitters of being the representative of all of Detroit, in front of ALL OF DETROIT on top of this 5-image system that may cause unforeseen issues by itself & I’m a little worried. When I say a little, I mean microscopic. I know what can go wrong, but I’m in the crowd. Not sweating it. NoCanDo goes 1st. Decent performance. They hand Fowl the mic. Oh God do I wish I had a picture of the expression on his face as they counted him down. This MF is Lasik focused right now. Its hard to find a person performing in a non-competition event in front of 15 people with a lack of fear like that, so to see it in a national battle in front of hundreds - Scary. It only took roughly 12 seconds for me to know for certain in my head that the Finals would consist of Fowl vs. D.N.A.
There was another 1st rd. battle between 2 other guys, don’t remember shit about it other than one of them losing and the other one that didn’t lose won by default for not losing.
I don’t have much to say about this round. There’s a new battle system in which a word is displayed on the big screen during each 2 bars of instrumental being played throughout the entire turn. In the preferred usage, this give the emcee a chance to set up a good counter rhyme in the 1st bar & then follow it with a hard hitting punchline using the projected word in the 2nd. 1st match is between D.N.A. and Phranchyze(I think). D.N.A. goes 1st. All I am really expecting in this round is for people to formulate quick rhymes with the word and keep the flow moving. Its really a battle of who can stay afloat the best. D.N.A. didn’t see it that way. In arguably the best performance of the night, he landed heavy blow after heavy blow as if he had seen a copy of his list of words the night before. I remember ‘Empire State Building’ popping up on the screen and literally a couple of seconds later he was yelling something like, “This phony guy has more stories than the Empire State Building.” Its one thing to rhyme things that quickly, but the ability to formulate metaphors of that caliber in such a quick time frame is astonishing. His competitor had his turn and it was like watching Damon Jones try to stop Lebron James on the fastbreak.
It was like hearing about all of the features that NBA 2K11 has planned for their game this year & then seeing an NBA Elite commercial come on immediately afterwards. I really dont give a damn what they did this year, its not fucking with 2K11! I mean, he gave it his all and actually did a good job, but we all knew before he even started that there was nothing he (or any of the other emcees for that matter) could’ve done to eliminate D.N.A. in that round. Fowl was matched up against the white guy that took down HeadKrack in the 1st round. This was a LOT closer battle than I thought it would be. Both emcees did an impressive job of quickly making use of the displayed words. In the end, this was the battle that made the audience look to the judges in suspense for the winner the most. 1st judge gives it to the white guy. 2nd judge gives it to Fowl. Comes down to Eminem’s vote(which should be the all ruling vote no matter what the other two said, in my book anyway) & he rolls with Fowl. Gotta hand it to the white guy. He definitely did his thing and to be honest, had the two hardest hitting lines of the battle. Definitely got the crowd going which can be tough to do going against the hometown kid. That being said, Fowl just did a better job of being consistent throughout the round. Even if I thought the white guy had just slightly won by a hair, I would’ve probably voted for Fowl based on the overall performances of the entire night. No offense, but I could tell from the 1st round that the white guy had no chance in the finals against the likes of D.N.A. (Somebody please comment on this post or something with the name of the white guy. Lol)
The Final Round: Fowl vs. D.N.A.
This is what it all comes down to. This is what I’ve been saving the last 10% or so of my iPhone 4 battery for. Mothra and all those other part-time monsters have been eliminated, Godzilla/King Kong are both front/center & I’ll be damned if I don’t record it. To be completely honest, the recording is kind of what inspired me to write this. Not the actual footage, but the fact that after I put up the footage on twitter for my followers, along with @amyrita23’s blog (http://writething23.com ), it seemed like the footage showed up everywhere with everyone passively taking credit for it. I kind of don’t really care, but the twitvid copy I posted is extremely low quality. I figured since Im the only one with the 720HD copy of it, I’d post it along with my personal recap(BOOM! lol). So without further ado, the final round…
Final round consist of no-stipulations, no instrumental. Two 60-second rounds of acapella free-for-all. D.N.A. was chosen to go first during the 1st round which left Fowl to go 1st during the 2nd round.
The other reason for my personal opinion is that there were a lot of disputes on how the battle went, not only from viewers, but the emcees themselves. Fowl, along with his followers thinks he just easily did the better job. D.N.A., along with his followers thinks that he was robbed of his victory by the home crowd refusing to go against the hometown kid. Here’s how I feel:
To look at it from D.N.A.’s side, his lyrics in the 1st round were bonkers! Fowl definitely shined lyrically in the 1st round too, but line for line, punch for punch, D.N.A. was lyrically better in that round….in a sense. I’ll come back to that in a second. Also, D.N.A. was right about Fowl having the homecourt advantage. It does become a factor. If this battle took place on neutral grounds or in NY, things MAY have gone different.
Now, even with all of that being said, Fowl clearly won this battle and, in my opinion, here’s why.
1) For starters, I’ll go back to what I said about D.N.A. being better lyrically in that round. Yes, his punchlines & metaphors were more hard hitting than Fowl’s but they were generic as shit. Im not saying that he wrote them (I would assume most people would have wrote those lines, but he definitely showed me in the 1st two rounds that he has that freestyle ability), but I am saying that, no matter who D.N.A. faced in the finals or what happened throughout the night, he could’ve used everyone of those same lines except for the Biggie Smalls line. Fowl on the other hand, started his freestyle with lines about the 1st two emcees he eliminated from the tourney, and then turned his subject matter to D.N.A.’s features and the Detroit notables in attendance. It was like adding his own form of the picture/word systems from the previous rounds to further state that “Yes, I am freestyling, and can create this on subject about anything and anyone.”
2) Another thing about D.N.A. possibly having harder lines is that there is so much more to a freestyle battle than what is being said. At the end of the day, this is an emotion driven sport and lyrics aren’t being submitted to the judge on a piece of paper. Not saying that D.N.A. did anything wrong, but Fowl’s energy level when battling has always been off the charts. Battling is just as much about having hot lines and exhuming the confidence to the crowd to MAKE them believe that the lines are hot. D.N.A. had great energy/confidence/presence…..but Fowl definitely wins in that category. When you have that type of presence and you go last in a battle, the crowd stealing card is easily in your favor and that’s exactly what happened in the 1st round.
3) The 2nd round period. To be honest, Fowl pretty much just coasted through his 2nd round and had a performance that did leave an opening when he could’ve slammed the door shut. Not only that, but now D.N.A. gets to go last meaning that Fowl’s energy is nowhere near as much of a factor since D.N.A. gets to leave the last impression. With that being said, D.N.A.’s entire round backfired. In his first line he said that you can tell that Fowl’s lines were prewritten. Not only does this not work following some of the most blatantly obvious non-prewritten rhymes of the evening, but it backfires by making people question if your own lines are prewritten. As obvious as it was that Fowl’s lyrics weren’t, why would you still say that line unless it was premeditated to say before Fowl even had his turn? Again, still not saying that he(D.N.A.) wrote his lines( the guy is a freestyle behemoth & definitely made a new fan out of me that night (pause)), just saying that it works against him in that case. The very next line is where things get controversial when D.N.A. tries to recreate some magic from the movie “8 Mile” and chant “Everybody from the 313, put your hands in the air and follow me.” This is basically saying to the crowd, “I’m from New York and I’m going against one of your own Detroiters, but turn your back on him right now and ride behind a New York nigga instead in this competiton.” Yes Fowl has a clear homecourt advantage. Fowl could’ve said that line and the venue would’ve went uber-dumb in his favor. Everyone knows that walking into the building so the clear cut strategy when you face someone with an advantage is to not walk into the advantage. If you’re fighting a wrestler, STAY AWAY FROM THE GROUND! The line was catastrophic and the crowd began booing immediately. D.N.A. began to say another rhyme, but decided that the crowd would just boo the entire time and forfeited.
4) The biggest reason that Fowl won the finals - D.N.A. quit. I mean, “No shit @CapitalSS, we know that’s what happened.”, but the important thing about that is he quit because of the crowd, not because his opportunity was dead. I could see if the round was judged by the crowd, but it wasn’t. It was judged by unbiased judges that can still hear the microphone clearly over the crowd. To be honest, I probably might’ve quit in that same situation myself, but for someone as lyrically potent as D.N.A., he had a window.
Anyway, that’s my opinion. Even if D.N.A. would have continued his 2nd round, I still think he would’ve lost. Doesn’t mean that the mufucka isn’t a serious problem doing this shit extremely big! Shoutouts to @SoFowl, @DNA2K10 & everyone else in attendance.