Fans were promised an event that would shift the culture, the biggest battle rap event ever. Drake, the URL, and everyone involved delivered a classic event that showcased exactly why they are the leaders of the emcee battle culture, and continue to make moves to push the scene forward. Fans were treated to a weekend of first-class entertainment, proving that battle rap is as cool as it’s ever been with the event trending No. 1 in the United States on Twitter.
Friday (Oct. 29) kicked off with a surprise two battle event at Chris Brown’s house, set up by Hollywood superstar, Idris Elba as promotions for “The Harder They Come,” the Black western co-produced by Jay-Z.
“Til Death Do Us Part
From the outset, everything looked on course for an envelope-pushing night of battles at Til Death Do Us Part on Saturday (Oct. 30). Smack was doing what he does best, front and center hyping the Long Beach crowd and the untold viewers watching live around the world.
Starpower was heavy in the building, Remy Ma, JuJu, and Lil Mama were in attendance and took to the stage to introduce the battles and perform the customary coin flips. Multi-talented battle rappers Emerson Kennedy and Di Da Hennyman opened the proceedings keeping viewers entertained until the performers were ready to take to the stage.
Pat Stay vs. Real Sikh
The event started with a high-energy clash between the veteran Canadian Pat Stay and Jersey’s Real Sikh, currently making his way to becoming one of the culture’s most promising new era emcees. The battle was a highly debatable one, with 60% of the Caffeine fan vote eventually going to the unorthodox, hard-to-beat Pat Stay. Real Sikh maintained his fast-paced multisyllabic flow at times, switching in and out of different rhyme patterns effortlessly but extended his round time making him more effective. Pat Stay showed exactly why he can be so dangerous, with a dominating performance, clowning Sikh’s style, imitating his flow, and angling effectively.
Jaz Vs. Gattas
The anticipation was high for the return of one of the most talented women in the game, Jaz the Rapper. She was up against the pioneer Gattas who goes back to the Grind Time era of battle rap and has been killing it since her return to the game last year following a six-year absence. Jaz was a little slept on in the predictions’ perhaps it was recency bias, or maybe fans simply forgot that Jaz does this “when it’s time to.”
Queen of the Ring’s Babs Bunny came out to introduce this one and got the crowd ready for this one with the cry “Give it up for the ladies!”
Jaz took matters into her own hands opting to go first and the decision proved a wise one. The crowd roared after she uttered her first line “If y’all don’t remember, I does this” before going on to shake the room with punch after punch leading heavy. It was an uphill climb for the veteran Gattas who fought back hard each round but Jaz was too explosive and had the crowd chanting “3-0” before Gattas had a chance to spit her third round. The legend DNA has been saying that “the streets need a body” for some time. It looks as though the streets got what they needed, the overwhelming consensus is that Jaz took every round and is the frontrunner for “Performance of The Night”
Jaz herself said in her postmatch interview that “once she spit that first, it was over.”
Tay Roc vs. Nu Jersey Twork
New York Rap royalty Remy Ma and media personality Juju were on hand to flip the coin to determine who would go first.
Next up was the heavyweight match-up between two of the best to ever do this, in what is being hailed as the potential “Battle of The Night,” as many of the predictions suggested it would be. Some expressed concerns ahead of the battle that the two emcees were too friendly in the build-up and had doubts they would go to war. Early on any fear of that was thrown aside as the two titans went head-to-head in a no-holds-barred fire battle proving exactly why they have the status and reputation they do. The levels of respect they have for each other and the culture were on full display as the two warriors traded punches for a full six rounds.
Twork gave us one of his electrifying “I’m strapped in” moments in every round rousing the crowd with each one as they said his slogan along with him. Tay Roc showed us why he is Smack’s original gunner with an impressive display of punching, consistently rocking the room.
The Caffeine vote gave the win to Tay Roc with a massive 71% although some had it a lot closer as both elite rappers gave it their all for six rounds.
Tsu Surf vs. Calicoe
Lil Mama introduced this battle and would have done the coin flip but the Jersey rapper chose to kick-off instead which Calicoe called “a rookie mistake.” Surf proved Calicoe wrong and set the pace for the battle, working the stage every round showing the star power and level of wordplay that makes him who he is today.
Surf picked up 78% of the Caffeine vote and Twitter was in agreement with most fans giving him the second and third rounds and some giving him all three potentially handing him a “Gentlemens’ 30” a phrase he coined himself.
T-Rex vs. Rum Nitty
Next to take to the stage was another rematch between the Harlem legend, T-Rex vs. Rum Nitty, long considered one of the best punchers in the game. The two first battled in Snoop Dogg’s Gladiator School back in 2015, a battle that many gave to T-Rex, including Nitty himself. Rum has come a long way since then, earning himself the nickname “The Alien.” He is considered one of the most elite in the sport, a title he proved he deserves time and time again. T-Rex is a Mount Rushmore candidate, one of your favorite rappers’ favorite battle rappers; many grew up watching him and he held down the culture for years while many of his peers stepped away.
Rum Nitty is the king of the rematches, he has a way of coming back against former opponents with even more than he did the first time and this outing was no different. Rex had nothing to prove but came out snapping and had some room-shaking punches early on but ran out of steam as the battle progressed. Rex still entertained the crowd and gave the audience what they expected although his breath control was lacking and he appeared to struggle in places. The third round may have been the most debatable and possibly Rex’s strongest. The night proved a little too much for someone in the crowd as Rex barely skipped a beat when he jumped offstage mid-round to pass some water to an audience member who had passed out.
Loaded Lux vs. Geechi Gotti
The main event of the night was the epic clash between the “God-Tier” emcee Loaded Lux and Compton’s Geechi Gotti, tapped as the current face of battle rap. The magnitude of the event was highlighted with a billboard featuring Lux and Gotti in Los Angeles.
Drake introduced “the Nutty Blocc legend and hometown-hero Geechi Gotti. Introducing Lux, he said we should be “honoured and blessed to witness another performance from this legend. I don’t know if he’s the MJ, the Kobe, the ‘Bron, however you want to slice it. A legend to all of us,” before bringing to the stage, from Harlem, the inimitable Loaded Lux.
Lux is one of the undisputed GOATs of the culture, a pioneer, and a name everyone wants but not everybody can get, the legend doesn’t come outside often. His status is solidified and has nothing at all to prove, he was giving a shot to the young gunner.
Geechi Gotti proved he really epitomizes his “Every Fuccin’ Bar” slogan as he punched consistently for all three rounds, frequently rocking the building. The legend Lux demonstrated why is one of the best-ever lyricists with incredibly intricate wordplay which will play better on the watch back, though it didn’t do much to neutralize Geechi’s more digestible though witty punches. Lux had some issues with fluidity in the third making Gotti’s round look more effective. The general consensus was that Geechi took the win scoring high in the second and third rounds. With the run he’s on this battle takes him closer to the Champion of the Year title though there are still other names in contention and several big events before the year comes to a close.
Cassidy vs. Freeway
Some major announcements were made on the night including a historic Smack era rematch between Philly legends Cassidy and Freeway. The two promised to replicate their vintage trailblazing battle with a future classic.
Drake’s Future Plans With URL
As if that wasn’t enough, Drake issued a challenge to his peers saying “Me and Smack got this idea” and called upon “all my friends in rap and all my athlete friends” to put on an event that could be the biggest battle rap has ever witnessed. “We should all pick a battle rapper and put money and have a real event to see who’s really about this s###,” he proclaimed. “Everybody that’s down, just tap in with me. We’ll make a movie 2022”
One of the high points of the night came when Smack brought Drake out to the stage to wish him a belated Happy Birthday and thanked him for putting the card together. Drake took time to salute the fans who paid for a ticket and thanked them for their endless energy. He also praised the battlers and said that they inspire and motivate him in his own writing and explained how honored he was to put the event on.
He continued, “We’re trying to take this s### to the next level.” and recognized the level of skill of the artists on the platform before revealing: “Eventually with Caffeine with URL with myself, I want to get to the point that we can do the first ever million-dollar battle. We’re working on it”
He also let out the exciting news that they have “a lot more events in store,” before reaffirming his love for and commitment to the league. “I’m big Smack, I’m big URL for life,” and paraphrased Smack’s slogan saying, “Lets gets this s### popping for real!”
The superstar could have stayed with the VIPs on stage but instead decided to hang out in the crowd. He bought drinks for everyone in the house, sending drivers to buy bottles and then personally handing out shots to the crowd.
The OVO boss also took a little time out to appreciate URL Princess Nunu Nellz who was looking particularly dazzling in a snakeskin shirt and black shorts, her flame-red tresses a staple of the culture, thanking her for helping him with the card.
The night was a historic win for the URL and battle rap across the board. The emcees displayed the elite levels of ability that place them at the forefront of what’s possible in the art form. Along with the hard-fought wins earned by the emcees; the culture also won tonight. Smack and the team over at URL cemented their position as innovators in the culture and look set to continue to break new ground pushing the culture ever forward.
As Wyclef said.