“New York City is the Mecca of Hip-Hop!” Jada Kiss, the MVP of last night’s Verzuz competition, drilled that into the heads of the millions who tuned into Triller/ Instagram to witness The Lox go head to head with Harlem’s own Dipset crew, who performed live on Tuesday, August 3 at Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden.
The contest was refreshing, as the culture suspended the “celebration” rhetoric that has been used around these events and fully embraced the concept that there was going to be a loser at the end of the night. And there was … The Diplomats just wasn’t any match for Jada Kiss and his Warlock brothers.
In attendance were rap music and basketball’s elite: Fat Joe, Fabolous, Lil Cease, A$AP Ferg, Conway, Maino, Mysonne, Carmelo Anthony, Al Harrington, Chi Ali, and more.
But … that’s racing ahead. This epic night deserves the sim-simmer treatment as it may have single-handedly reminded rap music lovers what “real rap music” really is. #FightMe
After the last couple of months of Lil Boosie getting kicked off of Instagram, DaBaby masturbating to a weave (while he spins in the air) during his BET Awards performance and his Rolling Loud debacle, Torey Lanez stealing bars from the Philly ole head Cassidy and Saweetie getting a McDonald’s deal cause she has followers, people have started to look at rap music as a joke. More about confluxsh*t than lyricism, originality, and creativity. Once Swizz Beatz and Timbaland announced this battle, the culture’s purist and boom-bap elite felt heard and validated.
This was gonna be the clash of the Hip-Hop titans that fans have had wet dreams about (Go ahead and say a nasty Dame Dash ‘pause’ right there).
Bad Boy Records’ first rap group, The Lox were signed to the label in 1997. The squad consists of Jadakiss, Styles P, and Sheek Louch, and from the lot of them they have had four studio albums including Money, Power & Respect (1998), We Are the Streets (2000), Filthy America… It’s Beautiful (2016) and Living Off Xperience (2020). The Dipset came through the powerful Roc-A-Fella/ Def Jam brand and were rock stars from the start. Unlike The Lox, who debuted in the shadow of the Notorious B.I.G., Cam’ron, Juelz Santana, Jim Jones, and Freekey Zeky were their own crew.
Sure they were signed to Jay-Z and Dame Dash at the height of The Roc, but their mixtape fame on the street verified them as a solid entity — separate from any other Olympic-sized emcee. The Lox had to get their reps fighting a ghost for respect.
In the end, the crews earned the right to pair off. But from the on-set, only one group understood or respected what was at stake on that TrillerVerse platform.
Promo for the battle was intense. Experts at trolling and clowning people, The ‘Set won early hype and with their strong corporate and individual catalogs that include two Diplomatic Immunity albums (1&2), Diplomatic Ties, about eight mixtapes, Cam’s seven studio projects, nine mixtapes, two collaboratives albums, Jim Jones’ seven solo joints (two collabs), and Juelz’s two albums — people just thought they were gonna smoke their opps.
After all, The Lox in 2021 are considered “Old School.” And since The Dip set still gives young hustler dude energy, almost all have had some sort of reality show presence and have mastered social media to get money — Cam has like a hood Viagra called “Pink Power Horse” — the kids know them.
But two hours later than expected, on a hot Tuesday night in August, those D Block dudes were there at Madison Square Garden to remind E-VER-Y-BODY exactly why Kiss is top five dead or alive, Styles P (despite all the green juice he drinks and the weights he lifts) is nothing to be played with and Sheek is as fire as he was when he auditioned for Puff over the phone.
TrillerVerse started the event with a few actual fights, which included Michael “Bounty” Hunter knocking his opponent out in the ring. However, if there was a true champ of this night, that man had no gloves on. Jada Kiss (as he said) had New York Hip-Hop on his back and basically bodied the whole Dipset crew.
With his passionate performance and beads of sweat dripping from his brow, he grabs that mic and rapped like he was possessed by the Ghosts of his deceased mentors Biggie Smalls and DMX. But he was not alone, as a unit, both Sheek and P complemented their brother. Unlike any other Verzuz battle, this was a classic NYC rap concert. They clearly practiced and had a strategy.
Whereas the Dipset appeared comfortable, maybe too comfortable, with their overwhelming popularity, their lavish expression of cool, and their hits … hits that were also lyrical, revolutionary in context (as they brought levels to rap music that had never been expressed to the culture outside of Harlem) and hood authentic. Leaning too much of their drip, their language, and rapping over the recorded tracks simply proved to be a disadvantage.
The audience respected their contribution but recognized the energy presented by The Lox.
Let’s look at the strategies that each group took (and what served them or took away from performance):
• The Lox were prompt on the stage, and the Dipset were fashionably rock star late.
• The Lox decided to perform live with their deejay and the Dipset performed over a track. Jada Kiss kept saying that they were “gipping” the audience and that they were “lip-syncing.”
• The Lox decided to perform two minutes of one full song, and the Dipset did two-minute compilations, hoping to overwhelm their opponents with multiple freestyles and mixtape classics.
• The Lox focused on their individual catalogs, features, and mixtape hits and the Dipset played songs that really spoke to the hood — dropping their biggest hits in the end.
• The Dipset came dressed to the nines and out swagged The Lox (at one point Jim Jones put on an additional gold chain in the middle of the performance).
• The Dipset dominated the stage, but The Lox met their aggression with real talk.
• The Lox spoke directly to the crowd with one clear theme, “This is New York, and we are repping real New York lyricism,” pointing out that Cam their leader lives in Miami and no longer has the smell of New York air on him.
• Cam tried to highlight that The Dipset was actually from New York City and that those guys, The Lox, are from Yonkers — the suburbs. He did this when claiming his crew was really the home team, so by right they should not go first.
• The Lox kept talking to Cam to get his guys in check, clearly pointing out their leader.
• While this was not a strategy, Dipset kept moving crazy while The Lox were performing. Sometimes, that works and sometimes it doesn’t.
• Juelz kept bringing up that Jada Kiss is carrying The Lox.
• Cam kept highlighting that The Lox were playing a lot of their features because they didn’t have their own hits. He kept calling them, “Side B**ches” and “Peas and Gravy.”
• Styles P shouted out Harlem influencers and rappers associated with The Dipset, Max B, Shotty, and Mel Matrix, that are locked up before dropping Akon’s “I’m Locked Up.” By the way, this is another song (as per Cam) that they were featured on.
• Jim Jones corrected Jada Kiss for saying the wrong names… “It’s 9 Tre Billy Badass till I die. Shout out Melly Matrix, 9 Tre Billy. I’m a certified mothaflucking gangsta.”
• Cam said that they use a lot of their mixtape songs because they didn’t have hits, that’s when they hit them with “All About The Benjamins.” Jada Kiss said that they know about “These n*ggas don’t know what Grammys look like … they know what GRAMs look like.”
• The Lox had a pit bull in Jada Kiss and was relentless with his banter.
• After rapping to “Oh Boy” and “We Gonna Get It On Tonight” Juelz said that The Lox didn’t like girls, which is why they didn’t have songs for the ladies. However, The Lox did have songs that moved the ladies like “Ride or Die. B**hes,” the remixes of Mariah Carey’s “Honey,” Jennifer Lopez’s “Jenny From The Block” and Mary J. Blige’s “Family Affair.”
• Jada Kiss killed them with two classic freestyles and when Cam tried to do the same in Madison Square Garden, he got booed.
For two hours, the two groups brought the energy like they were trying to take each other’s heads off. But what was also beautiful is that they clearly knew and loved each other’s music. They also seemed to be real friends, dapping each other up between jabbing each other with slick talk. They also sang each other’s hits.
But who won???
The undisputed champs were The Lox, Kiss was the MVP and they dedicated it to their guy, DMX.
They also ended the show sharing that both groups and State Property will be going on tour starting in September.