Battle rap has gone through an evolutionary process. What started out as face-offs on the street corner or in the barbershop has transformed into million-viewed YouTube videos and sold out pay-per-view events. To paraphrase Biggie: Who ever thought that Hip Hop would take it this far?
One rising battler is looking to push the culture to yet another level. With his signature bow ties mixed with intricate bars, Mid-Atlantic rhymer Prep is literally changing the image of modern battle rap.
His movement to shift the game toward a more GQ friendly style is just the beginning. Prep's focus is not just aimed at his wardrobe, he also sees himself as part of a new crop of emcees that are implanting lyrical content back in the veins of battling and forcing the established stars to step their pen game up.
Prep took a huge step in his career when he recently competed against John John Da Don at URL's Rookies Vs Vets card. The DMV native believes he - along with T-Top,Brizz Rawsteen, Chess, Th3 Saga, Mr. Wavy, & Sno - proved the rooks deserved to stand on the same grounds as the vets.
In the latest installment in "Profiles In Battle Rap", Prep spoke with AllHipHop.com about his P.G. class leaving a mark on battle culture, wanting to step in the ring with two of the top females in the sport, and some competitors' acceptance of selling out. The avid reader of the Bible, Greek mythology, American conspiracy stories, and African royal history also declares he helped produce one of the best battles of 2015 so far.
[ALSO READ: Profiles In Battle Rap: Brizz Rawsteen]
Baltimore, Maryland. The city. Not the county, not the outskirts, not the suburbs - no. When you look at The Wire, then you’ve seen my city.
Professionally, about a year and some change. We’re approaching two years as far as battling on camera. As far as URL, we’re approaching a year.
I walked into [my first URL battle] thinking that Dot would not be on my level. I was thinking, “Dot is not good.” But the thing about him is, he’s a star. He’s very entertaining. He demands your attention.
When I got off stage, Norbes was like, “Give him some room. Give him some room.” I was thinking, “What did I walk into in?” Dot was like a one-man show. He’s a circus.
Style Known For (aggression, wordplay, punchlines, freestyle)
Wordplay. DNA got on an interview and said that he would like to see me [battle] Chilla [Jones], because I remind him of Chilla. With that being said, I’m not long. I’m not drawn out. I’m not boring.
No disrespect to Chilla. He’s one of my top 5 and an inspiration in my writing, but I think if I had to compare myself to anyone it would have to be Chilla. I’m a shorter, more to the point Chilla. The exact same bar Chilla would use 20 words to accomplish, I would use nine to get there.
DMV Boys. We’re separate from a lot of entities you see coming from DMV, but we’re still affiliated. We still show love to each other. There’s no hate there.
The whole DMV area - I feel like it’s going to be our year. I just did Rookies Vs Vets against John John Da Don. Ty Law and Magic got locked in. Then you got Danja Zone. He’s been on a killing spree lately. This year is the year of the pen. If you can’t rap this year, it’s gonna be shown.
I don’t think I have a slogan yet. I think the worse thing I ever tried to do was try to make up a slogan. I think slogans have to come natural. Like when Charlie [Clips] said, “Sike, I lied n*gga.” That wasn’t meant to be a slogan. He said that in a battle to avoid choking, and it caught on.
I think as I’m rapping something is gonna stick. And the fans will say, “I want to hear that again.” And that’s gonna be the slogan, but for now I don’t have a slogan. For now, I just say “DMV Boys” at the end of my rounds. Will see which one is the one.
Leagues Competed In
Pit Fights was my first. We Go Hard was my second. Then URL. I battled on BET as well.
Favorite Battle (Participant)
It would probably have to be the Dot battle. It was my first one [on URL]. My butterflies were going crazy. I finally got to stand in front of Smack, an idol of mine. This is the guy that kind of raise me from watching his DVDs. Me watching them, made me who I am.
So that’s my favorite. And then Saga. Me and Saga brought that essence. Being in that store was like Loaded Lux versus Miles, Lux vs Mook. That was the essence, so that one is up there. Yeah, those two are my favorites.
Favorite Battle (Non-Participant)
The first battle that comes to mind was Kid ‘N Play [in House Party]. That’s the battle that started me off, but I wouldn’t choose that.
But JC/Chilla, Big T/Tsu Surf, and Aye Verb/Hitman Holla come to mind. I would probably have to choose JC and Chilla, just because of the lyrical aspect. There was so much wordplay [from that battle] that’s still being used today.
One Of Your All Time Hottest Lines
“Whatever my palm is on will swiss cheese him.” People are tweeting that like crazy.
Your Battle Rap Mount Rushmore
First of all, Smack. He’s going up there. Then the other three are very easy - Mook, Lux, and Rex.
One Mainstream Rapper You'd Like To Battle
King Los. He’s amazing. He’s incredible. That would be the highest I’ve pushed my pen. If I could choose three - King Los, Mickey Factz, and Fabolous.
Which New Battler Is The Most Serious Threat When They’re On Their A-Game
From my class, I think we’re all a problem. Brizz is very dangerous when he’s barking on you, when he’s just going total torture. Then T Top is a threat when he’s talking about that thug theme. When you look at him, you just see Young Jeezy, Gotti, a young Scarface, Beanie Sigel.
Then Wavy has so much swag with his sh*t. Then Chess is young, but he’s not to be thought of as a son. He gets on stage with grown men and makes them look little. We look as Saga like he’s the church guy, but when you get in front of him none of that plays any part. He wilds on you as if he was talking about guns.
So far, me and Saga probably have the classic of the year that’s been released on URL. I don’t think URL has dropped a battle better than me and Saga right now. There are people that say that, so it’s not me just being arrogant.
I think my A-game was the third round of that battle. It was a mixture of everything. I was performing. My projection was perfect. I am probably the best writer out of my class. Not saying the best battler, but I am the best writer.
At Rookies Vs Vets, we brought the A-game out of the vets. You hadn’t seen the vets like that until they battled us. For years, they’ve been slacking.
What Two Battlers Would You Most Like To See Face Off
I want to see Murda Mook against 40 Cal. I’m an old school kind of guy. I like the classic era of battle rap. I want to see the old school come back. I want to see 40 Cal versus Nemesis.
If I had to choose right now, it seems like everybody has battled everybody. Then people are slacking so much that I don’t really want to see anything. But judging from Rookies Vs Vets, I want to see Wavy versus Brizz. Yeah, I’m gonna use this platform to promote my class. Forget them old n*ggas, I want to see Wavy versus Brizz.
Your Battle Rap Hit List
Conceited. Con got me into this. He was the one who started this punchline sh*t. Con would be the finishing move. Other than that, I want to jump in the ring with Rum Nitty. I want to jump in there with Chilla. I want to jump in there with B Magic. I want to jump in there with Bricks.
Oddly enough - this is gonna sound really crazy - but I want to jump in there with Official and Jazz The Rapper. People don’t like to give the women any credit.
Top 5 Emcees DOA
I’m not gonna choose Biggie, Pac, or Nas. That’s so cliché. I’m gonna choose Joe Budden, Mickey Factz, King Los, Fabolous, and I want to say Wayne. Wayne was so influential, but he’s not consistent. Drake is very dope. Drake doesn’t display how dope he actually is.
With battle rap, I don’t have a top 5 that includes anybody who’s top tier. I really don’t like those guys. They’re really not that good to me anymore. So just like my battle rap top 5 consists of the newer guys, my top 5 rappers includes more underground rappers.
If I had to choose [mainstream rappers], Kanye and Drake - they’re really creative. I don’t want to choose Jay, Nas, Big, or Pac, because those four are on everybody’s list forever. So Kanye, Drake and Fab as far as established superstar, industry rappers. Then King Los and Joe Budden.
Do You Prefer To Participate In A Debatable Battle Or A Clear Victory?
I want a debatable. I want people to talk about it forever. People still talk about Mook and Lux in the barbershop. They don’t know who won. Like JC and Chilla, nobody knows who won that battle. But it’s such a good battle, you don’t care who won.
Like me and Saga, some people say I edged it. Some people say we both won. It’s a battle that goes back and forth. The only thing that’s consistent is they’ll give me [rounds] one and two if I won, and they’ll give him [rounds] one and three if he won.
What Has Been The Hardest Part Of Succeeding In Battle Rap?
The hardest part of succeeding is relevance. You have to remain relevant, and sometimes to remain relevant you have to sell your soul. That’s the hardest part. Then you have people that refused to do that. They’re so gung-ho on “real Hip Hop” and the “real essence,” the five elements. They’re so gung-ho on the purity of Hip Hop they refused to do stuff.
Like Daylyt obviously doesn’t care. You see what he’s done. If you're willing to take that Daylyt route to stay relevant, then you’re gonna be here for a long time. But you also have to be dope. Daylyt is actually dope when he wants to be.
To stay relevant, you also need money. You have to pay this cameraman. You have to pay this radio station. You do these things and do features so you can stay relevant. That’s why I had to build up my own dynasty, my own empire.
You have to have the mind to stay relevant. I know what fans want to see. You can’t just settle. They want to hear music. They want to see music videos. They want a mini-document of your life. They want freestyles from you every week. The fans need current visuals.
Where Do You See Your Career Five Years From Now?
Before five years - by next Summer Madness, people are going to be saying, “Prep is going to be that guy.” I think I’m gonna change the game in some approach. The first approach you’re gonna see is a lot of people dressing better. You’re gonna have gangs of people showing up to battles with GQ attire on. They’re gonna point to me like, “Prep started that.”
Outside of that, you’re gonna say, “He’s one of the ones who’s keeping lyricism alive.” Me, Rum Nitty, Danja Zone, Ty Law - we’re keeping being lyrical alive. It’s not about antics. It’s not about slogans. It's not about status.
My plan? When you mention legends - Mook, Lux, Rex - I want to be mentioned in that conversation. I don’t care if it’s in the second hour of that conversation. I want to be mentioned in that conversation by the end of my career.
[ALSO READ: Profiles In Battle Rap: T-Top]
Follow Prep on Twitter @GQPrep.
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