(AllHipHop Editorial) For weeks the first annual Total Slaughter event presented by Eminem and Slaughterhouse was built up as the “biggest event in battle rap history.” For diehard fans of the battle rap scene, the line-up on paper set up a potential milestone showcase of some of the culture’s elite.
The card included Arsonal vs. Big T, Daylyt vs. T-Rex, Loaded Lux vs. Murda Mook, and of course the main event: battle rap royalty Hollow Da Don vs. mainstream underdog Joe Budden. The night also offered an opportunity for many new fans to witness the amazing display of verbal jousting in this form for the first time.
Unfortunately, Total Slaughter ended up falling flat. Starting from the very beginning when purchasers of the online stream were not able to even view the event.
After paying $20 dollars to witness the show live via the totalslaughter.tv website and mobile app, consumers were completely shut out from watching the show when the site crashed and never recovered. This fail was basically a metaphor for how the rest of the night would turn out.
There were also issues with the microphones throughout the event as well. For the last match they actually had to revert to using a hand-held mic even though it has become customary to use lapel microphones during battles.
Numerous famous Hip Hop names were on hand as part of the event. Sway Calloway served as host, and DJ Kay Slay as referee. Ebro Darden and Royce da 5'9'' provided post match commentary. Kid Capri, Poison Pen, and Drect were judges for the evening.
Despite having shined in other leagues like Smack/URL, King of the Dot, and U Dubb, it did not seem like many of the competitors on the card came fully prepared for Total Slaughter. The opening bout saw New Jersey’s Arsonal face off against Chicago’s Big T. The lopsided matchup ended with Ars easily taking down T in what many saw as a 3-0 victory.
Up next was the final round of the Total Slaughter tournament that initially started on the reality show aired on Fuse. What began as eight battlers was dwindled down to two. T-Rex and Daylyt survived to compete against each other at TS1.
After suggesting on the Total Slaughter series and announcing in a pre-match interview before the event that he would not being using any of his infamous gimmicks (ie: stripping down to a thong in one battle and pretending to fall asleep on his opponent in another), Day showed up for his Total Slaughter battle dressed as the character Spawn. But that was just the beginning.
During his final round, the Los Angeles emcee told the crowd he was out of his schizophrenia medication and proceeded to rip off his costume. Daylyt then just laid down on the stage in his boxers without spitting one bar.
Obviously, T-Rex was named the victor, but Day later claimed on Twitter that his “forfeit” was part of his Machiavellian game plan all along. With Daylyt’s choice to throw in the towel, it does seem proper to wonder how the other tournament competitors felt about not having the opportunity to appear on the big event's undercard since Day did not seem to take the moment seriously.
One of the most hyped battles of the night was up next. A rematch of a classic battle between Loaded Lux and Murda Mook. The two titans helped elevate battle rap with their Smack DVD masterpiece in 2003. A decade later Lux/Mook II was nowhere near the same level of competition as the first contest.
Besides a 50 Cent reference (“Damn, homie. On Smack DVD you was the man, homie. What the f**k happened to Mook?”), Lux was not able to land many lines effectively. The audience even showered Lux with boos during his second round.
In contrast, Mook won over the crowd. The rap world expected to see an epic battle but was given a one-sided landslide that set one of the legends of the culture back. Lux must now comeback and prove his resilience in his next battle which he is fully capable of doing.
Finally, the main event. In what was billed as: battle rap professional versus signed platinum artist, underground versus mainstream, street versus corporate - Joe Budden stepped out of his element to go against the rebuttal king Hollow Da Don.
Firstly, Budden and Hollow should be commended for even taking this match as they both had a lot to lose. A victory for Budden could have be seen as proof that battle rap as an art form is not on the same level as the talent needed to be a successful recording artist. A Hollow win may have been perceived as a permanent foul mark on the resume of an established rapper like Budden. Hollow opened up by taking shots at the Total Slaughter organizers - Shady Records and Paul Rosenberg. He claimed the battlers on the card were not given a proper share of the profits from the event. But Shady Records co-founder Eminem was given a pass from Hollow’s wrath when the New York native shouted out the Hip Hop icon to close out his verse (“Eminem, you're still my favorite”).
Hollow’s final two rounds were filled with personal disses toward Budden. His ex-girlfriend and Love and Hip Hop co-star Tahiry Jose became a center point when Hollow stopped rhyming at one point to yell in Budden’s face that he would “f**k him up” if he ever hit a woman again. Hollow also took aim at Joey for being a “one hit wonder”, blogging about getting punched in the face, and being Eminem’s lackey.
Budden’s first round saw numerous pops from the audience when he spit lines like “Here I go again making another b***h famous” and “You asked where’s my last hit? N***a, where’s your first one?” His second round went over well with the people in attendance too.
After having the crowd for much of the first two rounds, the audience turned on Joe in the third. In perhaps the most surprising moment of the night (save Daylyt’s faux freak out), Budden did not complete his third verse because he got upset at the audience's reaction to some of his bars.
The Slaughterhouse member turned to the fans in the venue and said, “If y’all don’t stop booing, I’ll stop rapping.” The boos continued and Budden put his microphone down on the stage.
This was reminiscent of Budden's friend Tsu Surf's UW match against Calicoe. Surf took issue with that crowd making noise as he was rapping and eventually halted his performance during his second round. Calicoe called it a choke, but Surf did at least complete the battle.
Budden's stop left the door open to award an otherwise close match-up to Hollow. Budden later claimed on Twitter that he felt he took the battle 2-1, but it's hard to see judges rewarding him with a win when he effectively quit the match.
Budden's move is the equivalent of Floyd Mayweather walking out of the ring in the middle of the 12th round. Or LeBron James storming off the court in the 4th quarter of the NBA Finals game seven. It's difficult for any impartial person to call you a winner after doing that, regardless of the scorecard.
With visual and audio trouble plaguing the entire event, Budden’s decision to drop the mic is another metaphor for how unprepared and unprofessional Total Slaughter came across. Add in two uncompetitive battles and two unfinished battles, and you get an event that did not go off as well as it could have. Even with the lackluster display from TS1, this should not be seen as representative of battle rap culture as a whole.
For years the artists on this card, and many others, have worked extremely hard to present amazing examples of lyricism, showmanship, fortitude, and drive. Seasoned fans may be the most disappointed in how things turned out in Hammerstein Ballroom last night, but at least they should take away battle rap culture is seen as important enough that a huge show like Total Slaughter was even possible to pull off in the first place.
And new fans to the culture hopefully got somewhat of an idea of why millions of people around the world pay to attend battle rap events and watch videos on YouTube featuring these talented emcees. Maybe they will now go back and view other big bouts like Arsonal/Math Hoffa, Big T/Tsu Surf, T-Rex/Young Ill, Daylyt/Chilla Jones, Loaded Lux/Calicoe, Murda Mook/Serius Jones, and Hollow Da Don/Hitman Holla.
Total Slaughter was not a win by a long shot, but hopefully the show’s organizers, participants, and competitor leagues can learn from the mistakes of this event and continue to build upon the battle rap culture for future presentations. We’ll be watching.