“Styles Make Fights”
When I heard that Dipset and The Lox were going to face off, this is the first thing that flash in my head: “Styles Make Fights.” The battle was destined to be a clash of the New York titans, but it was not going to be your average Verzuz battle. There was so much more at stake: New York. This was a grudge match.
This was promoted as a Verzuz, but it really harkened back to the olden days when Madison Square Garden was the place for the biggest fights, especially in New York City. The crew at Triller (Verzuz’s parent company) even presented several boxing matches, equipped with legendary announcer Micheal Buffer to boot. Buffer quickly scurried off stage after doing his job, because it was immediately apparent that this was a tense atmosphere. Insults, jokes and near-chaos ensued. Perfect.
In boxing the best boxing matches are often those that have real tension, real emotion, of course, real warriors. Having rabid, polarized fans, vested in their side winning is paramount. In this case. It was like one of the great fights, I’d say Muhammad Ali versus Joe Frazier. Frazier was the Philly brawler, blue collar to the fullest. Ali was the braggadocios, flamboyant and fly charismatic people’s champ. Or maybe another comparison is better, but nevertheless…styles made Dipset and The Lox an incredible, historic moment.
Legendary boxing judge Steve Weisfeld describes ring generalship:
“This term describes a boxer who is generally controlling the action and putting himself into position to land clean punches, or employing a strategy to make his opponent fight his fight.”
When we saw The Lox’s eventual domination of Dipset, their “ring generalship” in numerous ways from the onset of the Verzuz. First, they tongue wrassled over who was going first and, when Cam’ron questioned the Yonkers natives’ New York-ness, Jadakiss – without hesitation says, ”Cam, you live in Miami — (DJ) Tech drop that sh#t!” The Lox proceed to play “F#ck You,” setting the told for the entire evening. For the rest of the night The Lox impose their will on their counterparts. One time, Kiss takes Juelz’s bandana and slams it down, another time Styles yanks Cam off a beach chair as he tries to casually lounge. They forced a fight. At another instance, Kiss clowns them for rapping over their own vocals, and at other times, they rap straight freestyles and mixtape joints. They truly took The Diplomats in deep waters, challenging their ability to swim with the big sharks. When Cam’ron tried to take it there acapella, he failed. He was even booed “at home.” Unheard of.
Dipset came there with the flyest of clothing and looked super swagged out, but The Lox – in shorts, Tims and sweats, took the battle to a place Dipset couldn’t follow.
This was the most aggressive Verzuz battle…and the best. Both sides were extremely aggressive, but was it effective? Both sides tried it, but The Lox were more successful. It took some time, but eventually The Lox had Dipset on the defensive and there was little they could do about it. They dissed how the Harlemites rapped over their own vocals, something attributed to younger acts. Not sure what Juelz was wearing, but they mocked the fancy clothing, and Kiss even called their jewels fake in a freestyle. “I’ll never let a n#### in leather pants beat me,” Jadakiss said to Jim Jones. So, it seemed like things might go overboard into violence, but the rules were never violated. (They also did not want to mess up future monies from a looming tour.)
No punches were thrown, even thought it felt like it may happen. It was a peaceful, gleefully rowdy event. It felt like good times from back in the 90’s where WE used to wear Tims, camo shorts, have rhyme battles and debate endlessly about who is the dopest emcee. The Lox’s “clean punches” were adhering to the core values of Hip-Hop. They performed bar heavy, but didn’t go all extreme rappity rap rap, over the audience’s head. They included the crowd a lot, which probably won their support. They called out Dipset’s “fouls” like “lip-synching.” Juelz tried to “take a nap” on the stage. In boxing, fighters that don’t fight tend to get booed.
Kudos to Dipset.
That was hard to watch. I have interviewed ever single member of each crew. But, The Diplomats sustained the social media roasting (that continues), and gave their counterparts their respect numerous times. In boxing, two people brutalize each other, but at the end of the bout, they hug it out. Cam, Juelz and Jim all congratulated The Lox, essentially conceding defeat. And they moved on, even though we fans are still fixated on their surgical (even if it was with a chainsaw) victory.
“You don’t play boxing…or Hip-Hop.”
Roger Mayweather, legendary trainer for nephew Floyd, famously said, “Most people don’t know sh#t about boxing.” The same could be said for Hip-Hop. As a culture, like other cultures, there are those that give, those that create, and those that expand the boundaries of said culture until it reaches a tipping point. When that tipping point hits, the masses and takers come in and, most times, the sanctity of the culture is compromised. (Triller, by the way, is fusing boxing and Hip-Hop in an entertaining fashion that has raised many purists eyebrow. There was a full boxing card before the rap battle. We’ll see how it pans out.) Dipset didn’t emerge victorious and it was completely one-sided, but that does not mean they are suddenly wack or dated.
It just means it wasn’t their night and that happens. Most boxers that accept great challenge take big losses and can even be defined by it. What is Rocky if he wins in Rocky 1 (to use a pop culture reference)? In some ways, Dipset can actually be re-defined by this rough patch. What happens next – how they respond to adversity or embarrassment – actually will define the L.
As for Sheek, Kiss and Styles…they did that. And they did it in a way that made the entire culture proud from pioneers to neophytes. They studied their opponents. You can see they train daily (not just when there’s a payday coming. Their defensive game made for an amazing offense. They listened to the nuances around them AND they an amazing spin master in Technician The DJ. Technician may not have been their trainer, but he was an essential part of the flawless victory. They put the culture on notice: this is how it should be done. Great styles make great fights, even when you lose.
Salute to all – both Dipset and The Lox.