Archive for the ‘Battle Rap’ Category

Bars Over Names

Monday, August 26th, 2013

by Eddie Bailey

Eddie Bailey Blog






Bars Over Names

In an interview with VladTV, Loaded Lux was asked to name his top five rap battles of all time.  Lux thought for a minute while carefully gathering his thoughts and said that Kool Moe Dee and Busy Bee are definitely in his top 5 because that battle changed Battle Rap from who could rock the party into who was the better rapper.  Thirty years ago in the spring of 1983, Charlie Ahearn released the movie Wild Style.  Filmed in the summer of 1980, it is classified as the first Hip-Hop film.  In Wild Style there is a scene at a club in the South Bronx called Club Dixie, where breakers from the Rock Steady Crew, party patrons, and MCs congregate in a smoke-filled sweatbox dimly lit by red lights.  The nostalgic ambiance is reminiscent of a Jamel Shabazz photo from his book Back In The Days, a collection of photographs that pay homage to 1980’s New York City street fashion.  Among Club Dixie’s street conscious couture of bucket hats, furry Kangols, Cazal’s, track suits, Pumas and 501s, the Fantastic Freaks faced off with the Cold Crush Brothers and Busy Bee faced off with Rodney Cee, in a battle to see who can rock the party.  With verses laden with tag lines to get partygoers hyped like “Everybody, somebody, say hoooo!” it’s undeniable that early battles were truly performance driven.  But in the winter of 1981 at Harlem World, that would all change when Kool Moe Dee stepped up to the mic and challenged the more popular Busy Bee. Moe Dee unleashed a barrage of personal attacks at Busy in flawless poetic form.  After that battle, gone were the days of MCs battling without devising clever wordplay to attack one another lyrically.  According to Lux, this turning point was the premise that started what we know today as Battle Rap.  Comparatively, today Battle Rap is at a turning point.  A new breed of MCs who are all about bars vs an elite class of MCs who rely heavily on the legacy of their names and who have also conformed their craft to fit the business module of commercial Battle Rap.

Summer Madness 3′s unofficial theme is aptly entitled Bars Over Names. Smack released a vlog that expressed his disappointment of the quality of top-tier battles that haven’t been living up to the hype surrounding them.  The URL machine has a reputation of delivering some of the best battles in Battle Rap and in order to continue in this tradition Smack made the bold move of making SM3 an event that focuses solely on the quality of battles and not the big names that sell out venues.  Smack is addressing a growing narrative in the Battle Rap community that is becoming hard to ignore.  That narrative was best illustrated in a vlog Big Kannon made, where the usually vlog-shy MC, is atypically transparent about his frustrations of the commercialization of Battle Rap, and how money and a growing fan base has effected the way MCs approach their craft.  To Kannon, Battle Rap is becoming diluted and watered down because of its growth as a major industry.  Math Hoffa, a Battle Rap veteran, responded to Kannon’s vlog offering an opposing view that brought to light Kannon’s naiveté regarding how Battle Rap functions as it relates to marketing and branding yourself as a battle rapper in this era of change.  When big money comes into the picture the business will always dictate how the art is approached, and not the other way around.  As the old adage goes, if it don’t make dollars it don’t make sense.  If anything, Kannon’s honesty in his vlog forces MCs and fans to choose where they stand on this issue.

I commend Smack and the URL staff for putting their reputations on the line in order to bring fans great match-ups but the lineup and the buildup to SM3 is less than exciting.  Let’s dissect this.

1.  Smack initially stated in a vlog that he is trying something new and releasing the trailers for SM3 up until the date of the event, which is uncommon for the URL.  Instead, the very same night that he made that announcement, he released the entire SM3 card via Instagram, which came across as a hasty decision to re-gain the trust of skeptical fans about their uncertainties of the battles scheduled to be on the card.  If the URL is pushing the theme Bars Over Names, an event that is not filled with big names, then the promotion of this has to generate excitement in order for fans to buy into the theme.

2.   I have to be honest and say that I’m not sure how SM3 will turn out.  The matches seem mismatched and randomly thrown together: Arsonal vs K-Shine, JC vs JJDD.  This may be due, in large measure, to the fact that a lot of battles that fans wanted to see like, Aye Verb vs Swave Sevah and B-Magic vs Conceited, may never happen because of top-tier MCs ducking battles.   Not to mention, Loaded Lux and Murda Mook’s asking rate was a combined $70,000, a rate that URL isn’t willing to pay, according to one of Norbes’ tweets. For these reasons, this may be partly why the card reads the way it does.

3.   There has also surprisingly been very little promotion.  Smack stated that he designed it this way so that streets wouldn’t be inundated with fans trying to get into the venue.  The last time this happened was at Armageddon, and the Community Board along with the police precinct in that neighborhood had the venue cancel Armageddon the day of the event.  This is clearly not the URL’s fault but now it has become the URL’s problem.  Figuring out ways to market an event like Summer Madness (arguably the biggest event in Hip-Hop today) without drawing large crowds, is a large task in itself.  I think that the card and the trailers should have been released earlier.  I’m quite sure some of the newer MCs on this card are under a lot of pressure to live up to fan’s expectations and a seemingly unfocused marketing strategy that fails to gain fan’s interest in these battles, creates a dark cloud of doubt over the success of this event.

4.   Then there is the sudden and unexplained $25 ticket increase from $75 to $100.  Why is this?  Especially, since there are no VIP tickets being sold (with the exception of early bird tickets) and the card isn’t filled with marquee talent.  If by chance SM3 turns out to be a classic, the URL staff has either got luck of the Irish or they are actually innovative, precocious businessmen that people have underestimated.

As unpredictable as this card is, this may be the most important Summer Madness to date, with regard to what it means for the future of Battle Rap.  There is still opportunity for classic material and if this lineup succeeds in accomplishing this I believe that it will usher in a new standard of battling for MCs to achieve.  As quickly as performance became the key component to garner views and win battles it can easily become not as important on September 8th if the MCs on this card can make the impact.  Like that cold winter’s night in 1981 at Harlem World when Kool Moe Dee’s performance ushered in a new era of how battles were done, the MCs on the SM3 card are in a position to do the exact same thing.


Eddie Bailey of  Writing Battle Rap History, for War Room Sports


© Copyright Eddie Savoy Bailey III, 2013

Written by: Eddie Bailey of The Savoy Media Group

Twitter @BttleRapHistory & @SavoyMediaGroup



#WritingBattleRapHistory #WBRH


The New Top-Tier

Monday, August 12th, 2013

By Eddie Bailey

Eddie Bailey Blog








“What can sell the most tickets?  Who can fill up this building?” Daylyt says pointedly on URL Battle Rap Arena, an Internet radio show that broadcasts Battle Rap news.  Day was referring to why Battle Rap leagues fill their cards with top-tier battle MCs and not up-and-coming battle MCs for marquee events.  The Battle Rap industry is not that different from any other lucrative business.  Let’s compare it to the recording industry.  On the right you have artist A, who has raw talent, is lyrical, but lacks marketability and media savvy.  On the left you have artist B, who has average talent and lyrics, but is extremely marketable and media savvy.  Artist B is your marquee talent.  B, is the one who will sell out arenas, get endorsements with leading brands, and make the company rich.  While artist A is more talented, he just doesn’t have the star appeal.  It all comes down to dollars and sense when running a business and Battle Rap is beginning to experience these growing pains in large measure, due to a new mainstream audience that never had their feet planted firmly in Battle Rap’s roots.

I can understand Daylyt’s frustration.  He is one of many great MCs that can’t get a top-tier battle on URL that will give him more exposure, never mind his strategic antics to bring him more attention.  There hasn’t been a classic top-tier battle in, well, I can’t remember.  Ok, maybe Big T vs Tsu Surf?  I’m excluding Loaded Lux and Calicoe because Calicoe didn’t put on a classic performance.  The question then becomes, when will the playing field be evened?

There was a time when a battle MC was judged on his lyrical prowess and not on marketability and performance.  This was in the days of MCs like Eddie Morris and Party Arty, but those days were before Battle Rap became an Internet sensation, when camera presence wasn’t deemed a vital skill for persuading crowd approval.  Now the game has changed, significantly.  MCs like Hitman Holla, Arsonal and Conceited have taken the industry by storm with electrifying stage presence and their ability to captivate audiences that number in the thousands.  This is not all bad because it has given MCs the opportunity to be apart of nationally televised programs like MTV2′s “Nick Cannon Presents: Wildin’ Out”,  but it compromises lyrical substance to watered down wordplay and emphasized showmanship that appeals, mostly, to newer mainstream fans, and not Battle Rap purists.

There are a slew of new generation MCs; Daylyt, JC, Ill Will, M. Ciddy, Young Kannon, Lotta Zay, and Danja Zone, who are more than capable of giving any top-tier battle rapper a run for their money.  Most of the top battles from last year and this year have been from mid-tier battle rappers.  JC vs Chilla Jones, Young Kannon vs M. Ciddy, Daylyt vs KG the Poet, Daylyt vs Lotta Zay, Ill Will vs Johnnie Alcatraz, Young Kannon vs Danja Zone, and Lotta Zay vs Syah Boy.  Allow me to continue with a list of MCs who are edging top-tier status.  Chilla Jones vs B-Magic, B-Magic vs Tay Roc, and any O-Red battle in the past year.  These battles may not have as much views as a top-tier battle and the MCs may not possess the star quality polish, but what they do possess is the spirit of Battle Rap.  They possess the fierce, ego-driven competitive nature that gets us fired up and the intricate wordplay that makes us pull back the play bar on our YouTube viewers.  Plus, the replay value on these battles are crazy!



The Perceived Threat   

It makes perfect sense for top-tier MCs to avoid mid-tier MCs.  For one thing, it threatens their position if they stand to lose.  Secondly, they’d much rather get beat by another top-tier MC as opposed to a mid-tier MC, because the risk of losing their status at the top is significantly lower.  Let’s take a look at Aye Verb and Math Hoffa, for example, who are without a doubt top-tier MCs.  In Summer Madness 1 they faced, then mid-tier MCs, Charlie Clips and Calicoe.  To the surprise of most fans, Clips and Calicoe annihilated them.  That was in the summer of 2011 and it took some time for Verb and Hoffa to get back in the good graces of fans.  Ducking battles that could potentially lessen top-tier status is a calculated move to protect their brands.  Most battle rappers will never make it as a recording artist so making sure that they remain in a top position is of the utmost importance.

Aye Verb recently created a vlog aimed at the new generation MCs, where he takes a “guns and butter” approach, in an attempt to school the new school.  In the vlog he rambles off a few reasons why new generation MCs aren’t better than current top-tier MCs.  His main reason for them not being apt to handle being at the top is because they have yet to battle anyone that is top-tier.  His logic is dismissive and it creates the perfect excuse for a top-tier MC to not take a battle. Verb’s shallow perspective measures an MCs value based on their status as opposed to their ability.  Another one of his reasons is that new generation MCs don’t have the polish needed to be stars.  He has a point.  In an era where Battle Rap star power is determined by performance, the new generation lacks this quality.  What Verb doesn’t understand is that these new generation MCs don’t care about being the most polished, they only care about lyrical substance, and if they have a large enough fan base that believes in what they’re doing, the climate in Battle Rap can be changed overnight.  You can’t keep running away from what’s coming for you and a new generation is steadily paving a road for themselves that will eventually lead them straight to the top.  Lastly, if the new generation wasn’t a perceived  threat to top-tier status, Verb’s vlog would have never been made.

Let’s have some fun for a second.  Imagine a night at the URL, where Smack and Beasley decide to host an event called “Road to Becoming Top-Tier”.  You have one group of MCs who are hungry to move up and an opposing group of MCs fighting to hold on to the positions that they worked so hard for.  In this battle everyone stands to lose everything.  And the card reads…

T-Rex vs Lotta Zay

K-Shine vs JC

Aye Verb vs Ill Will

Yung Ill vs Daylyt

Hitman Holla vs Young Kannon

DNA vs M. Ciddy

With these match ups I don’t know who would win but I am sure that half of the battles that night would be classics.  That equals more classics than the URL has produced for a marquee event in year.  There would also be a lot of MCs who will lose their spots at the top.

The glory days of this era is nearing the end.  Top-tier success has fattened Battle Rap’s elite and they’ve become too complacent.  There will come a time when top tier MCs will have battled everyone that’s top-tier.  Then what?  Maybe, the answer to that question is that the new top-tier MCs exist right before our eyes and they may consist of the new generation MCs that I already named?  Maybe, most of the current top-tier MCs have already run their course?


Eddie Bailey of Savoy Media Group, for War Room Sports

Battle Rap Trolls

Thursday, August 8th, 2013

by Eddie Bailey

Eddie Bailey Blog






(Image courtesy of Superb Wallpaper)

(Image courtesy of Superb Wallpaper)

In 2003 my cousin told me that most people talk smack on the phone and in the car.  Back then I agreed.  Before the Facebook, YouTube, & Twitter boom, smack-talking was limited to a few media outlets.  Fast-forward ten years later, and I am refuting my cousin’s statement by emphatically saying that most people talk smack online, period.  The Internet has become increasingly volatile in recent years, in the world of virtual communities & blogs, where say, Tom from Connecticut and Bill from Nebraska, who will never meet in their entire lives, can go head-up in a verbal Armageddon of slanderous commentary toward each other, and most of the time other people, about something that has no particular importance or value to overall society.  In Internet jargon this is called Trolling.  The Internet is the ideal place to do this because it creates a world of detached experiences, where bloggers can spew unrelenting hate purely for the sake of hating, towards an individual, groups of people, public figures and celebrities, from the virtual safety bubbles of their PCs and laptops, without having to ever meet face-to-face with the person on the other side.

Being a fan and critic of Battle Rap, I find this topic interesting, especially being entrenched in the Battle Rap world, where spewing hate is celebrated.  Chris, who is arguably the most popular Battle Rap blogger, and the owner of “Unbias Review”, says that, it should be noted that fans have undoubtedly helped the culture to grow, but he explains that, fans have also helped to ruin the experience of enjoying battles because of unwarranted insults towards battle rappers.  He goes on to explain that in the early days of Battle Rap instigating factions didn’t easily sway fans’ opinions.  “It’s the new people” to some degree, that aren’t familiar with Battle Rap that bring this element to the game, Chris says.  The rhetoric of fans wasn’t that of discord and mockery of battle rappers a short time ago.  For example, K-Shine’s last battle with Big T was his worst on record.  Some fans were discounting him, not even taking into account his catalog of work over the years.  And this becomes the pattern.  A battle rapper can have a slew of good battles and a couple of bad ones and automatically he’s the worst battle rapper ever.  I admit that some criticism is definitely warranted, especially when battlers don’t come with third rounds, but the bulk of criticism that battle rappers get comes from an entirely different place.  I call it the “band-wagon” effect.  Someone sees a comment that has a few likes and all of sudden they’re in cahoots with the masses; they hop on the band-wagon.

Trolls do not apply to all fans.  Battle Rap probably has some of the most loyal fans on Earth, including the Trolls.  It has gone from an underground phenomenon, starting off in city parks with low quality camera footage, to a recognized art form that’s slowly transitioning into the mainstream.  Without fans this surely would not have happened.

Trolls 2


Trolls have unrealistic expectations of these Internet celebrities.  They sit behind computers all day and find ways to stir up dissension.  They vicariously live out their fantasies of being Battle Rap legends through battlers and when they’re disappointed they lash out as though they were failed.  Let me be clear and say that I think that it’s cool to be able to poke fun at and tease some of these battle rappers because some of them need to be.  But it’s not cool to hate for the sake of hating.  Unwarranted criticism and slanderous commentary from Trolls won’t kill the game but it leaves a lingering stench that distracts us from what we love so much about Battle Rap and keeps us focused on the smelling the b.s.


Eddie Bailey of Savoy Media Group, for War Room Sports


Lil Gerald: Getting Too Big For His Britches

Monday, July 29th, 2013

by Eddie Bailey

Eddie Bailey Blog






Lil Gerald


Hitman Holla has recently unleashed a tirade of vicious attacks on Twitter.  His tweets are directed at the URL and its staff members for putting his battle with Conceited, at NOME3 on June 23, on the back-burner, in favor of Arsonal vs Aye Verb, a main event battle that took place in St. Louis on July 21.  URL, having already released two battles from NOME3 out of the six that took place that night, including two battles from “Ultimate Freestyle Fridays” and one from “Go-Rilla Warfare”, are releasing battles at a steady pace.  While Hitman waits for his turn in the lineup, he is seething with resentment.  To Hitman, it’s his turn to get in the ball game (no pun intended) and everyone else should wait their turn. But why the big fuss?

No one can deny the viewership that Hitman brings to the URL.  He has five battles that have over one million views, two of which surpass two million.  This makes him the most viewed battle rapper on URL.  So, it seems Hitman is attempting to throw around his weight to make things happen according to his liking.  This most likely being the case, he’s approaching this like a volatile, self-centered pre-teen, who wants what he wants when he wants, by making violent threats to URL staff members, if he doesn’t get his way.

The tweet that caught the attention of fans on Twitter was when he said, “Taking food outta my son mouth.. By not putting out my new product.. But drop sumn from a whole new event??? Yea ok try me”.  What’s interesting here is that the normal business practice for URL battle rappers is that they get half of their money up front and the other half of their money immediately after the battle is over.  Considering that Hitman followed the normal procedure of business, exactly what is being taken out of his son’s mouth?  Comments like these calls into question his rationale and his emotional stability.  Unfortunately, this is not a unique situation.  There have been other gripes that battle rappers have had with the URL, the most popular being Arsonal’s fallout with Smack.  Ironically, when Arsonal left the URL to start UW over a year ago, he was the most viewed battle rapper, like Hitman is now.  This draws quite an interesting parallel.  Consider Arsonal, who left URL with intentions of creating his own Battle Rap league that would be URL’s main competition.  His absence was felt but it didn’t make URL miss a beat.  As a matter of fact, they continued to grow in popularity without Arsonal and retained their spot in Battle Rap.  With Arsonal’s newly found success running UW, he’s now a more mature businessman, he has made amends with Smack, and is back on URL.  History is a great teacher and it should make Hitman think twice about burning bridges.

This is what Hitman forgot.  He has absolutely no say in a company that he doesn’t own.  Essentially, Hitman is an independent contractor who is hired for his services when needed.  He doesn’t make any business, financial, logistical, creative, or marketing decisions for URL.  The URL is a machine that will go on with or without Hitman.  The Battle Rap culture is bigger than just one ego.  Lil’ Gerald’s lack of perspective on his position, will prove to be damaging to his career in Battle Rap if he doesn’t straighten up.


Eddie Bailey of Savoy Media Group, for War Room Sports

Cortez’s Uphill Battle

Thursday, July 25th, 2013

by Eddie Bailey

Eddie Bailey Blog






The Murda Ave Capo

The Murda Ave Capo

Cortez has either reached his peak or has yet to find his voice in Battle Rap.  I’m not quite sure what it is but something is missing.  His career seems to be suspended in limbo, surrounded by magnetic fields pulling at him with equal strength that, instead of drawing him closer to one side, keeps him stagnant in the middle.  In Battle Rap you’re only as good as your last battle, and for Cortez, he has managed to stay alive by the skin of his teeth.

I think there are a couple of explanations for this. First, he’s never convincingly, without a shadow of a doubt, won a battle, at least not against any “top tier” battler.   There always seems to be some debate in his battles.  On the surface this can be looked at as him just having great battles, but in reality, it raises a question.  Can he win? Close but no cigar, are how Cortez’s battles seem to play out.  Secondly, as someone in my “Straight Shot Battle Rap” group on Facebook put it, he doesn’t seem to have a lot of “Don Demarco” moments.  Another group member compared him to the San Antonio Spurs by saying that he doesn’t have the highlight reel but you can always count on him to do things the right way.  What I mean is, he’s not dynamic.  Cortez has a continuous flow of satisfactory bars, minus the “compelling” factor.  It’s unfortunate, because Cortez is a solid lyricist, but in live performances, not having this is the difference between good and great.  This puts him in a box where he always has to prove himself as worthy of being top tier.

Let’s not count Cortez out.  Though his resume consists of heavy hitters like Soul Khan, Conceited, and Thesaurus, hisCortez career in Battle Rap seemed to have run into a glass ceiling, after battling veterans like, X-Factor & Hitman.  He’s had a lot of struggles and criticism because of this and has managed to maneuver his way through it like champ.  Despite all of this, he still gets decent battles, primarily, because people still believe in his talent.  Thus, Cortez loyalists may see something that his critics don’t.  It could be that there is more of Cortez that we haven’t seen?  While most fans may overlook him as top tier status, his loyalists still place their faith in the Murda Ave Capo.  This was especially evident in his most recent battle with Dizaster, when he showed fans and critics why he’s a veteran.  Although, the battle was not a classic, and Dizaster wasn’t on top of his game, he proved, once again, that he could still hang with the best of them.

If there were one word to sum up Cortez’s Battle Rap career, it would probably be “tenacity”.  Cortez has tenaciously fought an uphill battle to the top, and he’s still fighting.  Unlike, his other NYB counterparts, who don’t have the problem of continuing to prove their worth, Cortez is stuck with this cross to bear.  And for what it’s worth, it hasn’t shattered his belief in himself.  But this may be one of the reasons why Cortez has survived in Battle Rap all this time?  He’s tenacious and tenacity pays off in the end.  I think Cortez says it best, when describing the value of his career, “Don’t ask if I’m top tier, dummy. It doesn’t matter, as long as I’m getting this top tier money.”  Can someone please give this man a “Demarco” for that?          


Eddie Bailey of Savoy Media Group, for War Room Sports


Dishonorable Ghostwriters

Tuesday, July 23rd, 2013

by Eddie Bailey

Eddie Bailey Blog






Ghostwriting has long been accepted in society.  In the 18th century, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart ghostwrote music for his affluent benefactors.  American author, Tom Clancy’s demand for material is so great that it extends beyond his capability to write everything.  So, ghostwriters are hired to meet those requests.  Politicians, musicians, and entertainers solicit the services of ghostwriters because they either don’t have the time or the skill to structure a well written piece.  The ghostwriting process is usually proceeded by a contractual agreement to pay the ghostwriter a percentage in exchange that they remain anonymous.  In these fields, ghostwriters are praised and highly recommended.


In Battle Rap, ghostwriting is forbidden.  It defies Hip-Hop’s contextual paradigm of being original and real.  Although, in recent years as Hip-Hop has grown increasingly popular, artists have become more openly accepting of ghostwriters.  XXL Magazine published an article that featured Hip-Hop’s 10 greatest ghostwriters.  Among these were Jay Z, Ice Cube, Rick Ross, Skillz, & Nas.  Battle Rap, being the one of the most purest forms of Hip-Hop, clings tightly to its roots of original ideas and concepts that are born out of the mind of the individual.  With Battle Rap yet to be dictated by big business, the concerted input of producers, publicists, marketing and label executives, to meet the deadlines and expectations of a record label are non-existent.  Thus, battle rappers aren’t under those kinds of pressures to produce material.  They aren’t bound by those rules.  They’re free to be artists.  They’re afforded the privilege of being original.  This is the essence of Hip-Hop.  (Side note: I’m not making excuses for artists who use ghostwriters. I’m merely pointing out some factors as to why it works in some fields and is shunned in others)  

dizaster arcane560


Earlier this year, KOTD battle rapper Arcane was blasted by Dizaster on URL Battle Rap Arena for having bought bars from Caustic.  Arcane’s credibility in Battle Rap is now forever tarnished because of this.  Possibly clearing a guilty conscience, Lotta Zay admitted to ghostwriting “all” of Kwanii Kussh’s battles.  The news of this was shocking but probably could have been left unsaid.  This has started a campaign by some battlers to purge Battle Rap of this shameful impurity.


As long as Battle Rap is true to its roots there will never be tolerance for ghostwriting.  Battle Rap does not manufacture talent.  You won’t find publicists advising battle rappers on what they should say and how they should say it.  Battle Rap does not consist of staff writers who are hired to contribute their talents when needed.  Battle Rap is highly competitive and like sports it involves individuals that compete to see who has the better skill.  No performance enhancements.  Cheating (ghostwriting or ghosting) is not allowed and there is no honor in that.


Eddie Bailey or Savoy Media Group, for War Room Sports

Daylyt Unmasked

Wednesday, July 17th, 2013

by Eddie Bailey

Eddie Bailey Blog






Daylyt is a Los Angeles gang member who battle raps.   He’s not the quintessential gangster.  When you think of a gangdaylyt304 member from Los Angeles there is a stereotypical image of Dickie’s, Chucks, locs and flannels, amidst rows of bungalow houses lined in perfect symmetry with tall palm trees. Daylyt is more of an eclectic gangster living in a reality that he created himself.  As a member of the Grape Street Watts Crips, a notorious Crip set, that was once named Watts Varrio Grape (pre-1987) when it was populated with black and Mexican members before Mexican gang members aligned themselves with the Surenos, it is the largest Crip set in Watts, claiming territory of almost half a square mile.  Watts is a neighborhood in South Los Angeles that has rich history in Black America.  With most of its black population migrating from the South in the 1940s during the Second Great Migration, Watts has reared some greats like, jazz legend Charles Mingus and Olympic Gold Medalist, Florence Griffith-Joyner.  Watts is also notorious for its peril after having fallen on economic depression as result of the 1965-Watts Riots.  An Italian immigrant named Simon Rodia between 1921-1954 built the neighborhood’s most prominent feature and its claim to fame, the Watts Towers.  Watts Towers have no function.  It’s just a collection of abstract vernacular architecture that stands about 100 feet in the middle of the ghetto.  At a distance they look like towers that carry electricity but close up it’s a décor that is an acquired taste.  Like the Watts Towers, Daylyt has become an acquired taste making noise around the world as one of Battle Rap’s most prominent features.


The birth of who we know Daylyt to be came about two years ago when he made a blog about why he tattooed his face in what looks like an Ultimate Warrior mask.  “It’s a Spawn mask…My life was in the same comparison as Spawn’s was…he was a bad guy at first but ended up being a good guy at the end of the movie.”, Day explains.  He went on to say that he feels like his mission in life is to help people and that like Spawn, he needs a mask in order to be a hero.  Totally not expected from a gang member.  Amazingly, Day still has the sentimental and imaginative nature of an eight-year-old mischievous boy, lighting cherry bombs in public toilets and pulling at little girls’ ponytails.  While some may brush his hero aspirations off as comical, it’s actually a testament to his character.  Being a self-appointed hero to save people may be a bit egocentric but it is totally selfless and open-hearted.


Spawning his battle career into a new dimension, his behavior became more bizarre.  As if tattooing his face wasn’t bizarre enough, Day was starting to become known less for his lyrical prowess and more for his antics.  “Ass Naked With A Shot Gun”, a music video in which he was completely naked sitting on a porch in a lawn chair holding a shotgun.  Against his battle with Interstate Fatz on LA Battlegroundz ,he wore a Ku Klux Klan hood.  He stripped down to nothing but a thong in his Don’t Flop battle with Dialect.  He wore a Batman suit to battle Manaz Ill in Australia at a 1OUTS battle. These have become recurring themes in Day’s battles.


Daylyt isn’t as crazy as he looks.  Every stunt he pulls is a calculated risk to advance his career.  His cunning tactics aren’t because he’s gone mad, he actually has a master plan and he’s sticking to it.  He vowed earlier this year to get more viewership by any means.  Since a battler’s worth is determined by how many views they bring to a league, Day has positioned himself to be one of the most sought after battle rappers.  He’s playing the game the best way he knows how and for some of his fellow battlers it’s not appealing.  He almost got into a fight with Math Hoffa when he poured water on his shoes in the middle of a their battle.  Swave Sevah even had second thoughts on taking a battle with Day because of possible stunts that he may pull.  Because of this, Day will probably never see the URL stage, the Main Stage.

Coming off as a loose cannon has helped his popularity tremendously but it has also compromised both his integrity and lyrical substance.  He’s still a dope battle rapper but it’s hard to take someone seriously that strips naked and wears a tattooed mask on his face.  The irony in all this is that though Day was a brilliant lyricist before the antics, no one took a second look.   When he masked himself in his Spawn persona the battle world took notice.  He is openly hiding behind the tattooed mask and now we can get a glimpse of what Day probably always wanted others to see…himself.


Eddie Bailey of Savoy Media Group, for War Room Sports

Twitter/IG @SavoyMediaGroup







Is Hollow Da Don Ready for Loaded Lux?

Friday, July 12th, 2013

by Eddie Bailey

Eddie Bailey Blog








The wait is over and we’ve finally got to hear Hollow Da Don bless his fans with another battle, this time against Tsu Surf at URL’s N.O.M.E. 3 (Night of Main Events) on June 23 in New York City.  Hollow was arrested over a year ago for charges stemming from a 2006 incident.  He sat in jail for six months while his fans awaited his return.  Before the walls of prison caved in on Hollow it was highly anticipated that he battle his arch nemesis, Loaded Lux.  After a challenge by Lux in late 2011 on Dashliving, a YouTube channel, and according to Hollow, numerous tweets by Lux taunting him, the anticipation for a classic battle was set.

Hollow Da Don has had quite the career.  He was a recurring champion on BET’s “106 & Park Freestyle Fridays”. In 2010 counted Hollow as one of the 50 best battle rappers of all time.  Hailing from Queens, New York and also spending part of his life in Houston, Texas, his style is entrenched in New York’s Hip-Hop culture brewed with roots of a faint southern twang.  This fusion makes for an interesting and unorthodox sound.  Hollow first received notoriety as a battle rapper on Grind Time.  In an era where battlers have ample time to write and prepare bars for their opponents, his uncanny ability to freestyle, which is the essence of what Battle Rap used to be, has given him an advantage of being lyrically flexible (pause).  He doesn’t stick to the script because usually he doesn’t have one.  He’s an improv. I mean this guy can come up with anything on the spot and make it sound good.

When Hollow left Grind Time and graduated to the URL, or as some fans call it the “Main Stage”, he faced new challenges and a new crowd.  The URL has a predominately urban Black and Hispanic demographic as opposed to Grind Time that had more of a mixed demographic.  The URL crowd is drawn to bars that are laced with metaphors of gun and drug references for example, shaving onions and spraying hammers, to name a few.  This is not to say that battle leagues with mixed demographics don’t have this but it is overwhelmingly pronounced in the URL.  Even Hollow’s slogan “You Snow Dat” is a reference to cocaine but his weirdness, and at times corny style, didn’t always mesh in the URL’s tough street climate.  “You was battling Illmac, Okwerdz, and Passwurdz/rhyming ventilators, using generators, using mad words/Then come to the URL and everybody Snow Dat/Snow What? Them weirdos f**k with you but so what!” as Tsu Surf described Hollow in round 1.

The battle with Tsu Surf for most people was Hollow’s opportunity to show and prove that he was worthy to battle Loaded Lux.  His time in jail seemed to take a toll on his performance.  He was a bit rusty and with Surf in the prime of his Battle Rap career, Hollow’s shortcomings were exposed.   He got off to a slow start in round 1, perceptibly trying to find a comfort zone.  He even threw money in the air, an antic that didn’t get the reaction from the crowd that Hollow intended.  By round 2 and 3 he warmed up giving the audience some original material mixed with a few recycled bars he used in previous battles.   Some die-hard fans still gave the win to him but most people felt as though Surf took the battle.  This wasn’t Hollow’s greatest performance instead it was more of a trial battle which left a lot of his critics even more doubtful of his chances against Loaded Lux.


So, is Hollow Da Don ready for Loaded Lux?  Well, first let me give you a snapshot of what Lux means to the URL.  On camera, Loaded Lux is undefeated.  He is also a recurring champion at BET’s “106 & Park Freestyle Fridays”, he’s one of the founders of Lion’s Den, a battle league that broke battlers like Goodz, K-Shine, Arsonal, Tech-9, Tay Roc, and Charlie Clips.  He is viewed to some extent as a demigod in Battle Rap.  As fellow battler Aye-Verb explains it, Lux is said to have a glow when he walks in a room, a strong presence.  From what we’ve seen of Lux he is a bit strange.  I mean how many 20-something year olds do you know that spend their time playing chess with old heads and speak in riddles.  The perfect description of him would be that of an elder from the Five-Percent Nation of Gods and Earths, a religion started by Clarence 13X, in Harlem in the 1960’s.  Spreading knowledge, wisdom, and understanding to his peers, it’s as if his alias should be Knowledge Supreme Alphabet.

Lux’s strength rests in the fact that we know very little about him.  Besides his preacher persona we don’t know his shortcomings.  What makes him tick?  What kind of relationships does he have with his friends?  What are his flaws?  He’s somewhat of a mystery.  Lux doesn’t even participate in social media much.  The advantage that Lux had in his battle with Calicoe last year at Summer Madness 2 was that he knew a great deal of information about him.  He knew about his run-ins with law, his father going to jail for a long period of time, and from Calicoe’s posts on Twitter he exposed him for skinny-dipping.  With that knowledge he was able to take the approach of an older, more seasoned man speaking to a young lad that is too big for his britches.  In this sense Lux is like the Sun Tzu incarnate that has mastered the art of war in Battle Rap.  He knows everything about his opponent while his opponent knows little to nothing about him.  For Hollow, knowing Lux is probably discovering his Achilles Heel.

Hollow Da Don is as ready as he is going to be for Loaded Lux.  It is going to be very difficult to beat a person that can do no wrong in the eyes of fans.  Lux choked in his first round against Calicoe and for at least 2 minutes he couldn’t get his bearings straight and no one booed him.  As a matter of fact, fans felt as though he planned to choke and forfeit the first round to Calicoe.  In their eyes Lux is the golden child.  If this battle were on Grind Time, which has since been changed to Grind Time Now, or KOTD, I think Hollow would have a fair chance.  His unorthodox style is appreciated more in those circles than in the URL.  But there is a lot of hope for Hollow Da Don.  He brings an audience that has been following him his whole career before URL, that judges battles through a different lens.  These fans favor the unorthodox random rhyme spitting as opposed to gun and drug bars or the “kicking knowledge”, poetry cipher approach Lux takes.  Lux may surely win this battle in the house but on camera it may be a different story.  Most of the blogs that I’ve been reading that have Hollow beating Tsu Surf are fans that tune into other battle leagues besides URL.  Hollow’s ace in the hole may be to have his fans in mind that brought him this far when preparing his battle against Loaded Lux, because these are the fans that truly appreciate him.


Eddie Bailey of Savoy Media Group, for War Room Sports


Where’s the Love? A Critique of Murda Mook From A Fan’s Perspective

Wednesday, July 3rd, 2013

By Eddie Bailey






Murda Mook
(Photo via



Jae Millz received critical acclaim as a battle rapper when he was first introduced to a national audience on MTV’s “Making the Band 2: Da Band” (circa 2002).   He battled up & coming Philadelphia rapper E-Ness in an exchange of rhymes in the hallway of the “Making the Band 2” house.  Both MCs brought their A game but when the smoke cleared everyone was talking about this guy named Jae Millz from Harlem.  Although Ness did an amazing job in the battle it seemed as though Millz’s career benefited more than Ness’.   In 2003 Millz released his debut single “No, No, No” that peaked at #89 on the R&B/Hip-Hop Billboard Charts.  Shortly thereafter, Jae Millz became a name in Hip-Hop that fans knew of from coast to coast.


In the mid-2000s record labels started to take more notice of the emerging underground culture of Battle Rap (that’s always existed in Hip-Hop).   So much so that there were some battle rappers who managed to ink record deals from battling.  To name a few, O-Solo, Reign, Meek Mill, Jae Millz, and more.  This was the precursor, the advent of what was to become the Battle Rap business.  SMACK DVD, a DVD magazine focusing on Hip-Hop culture, along with other battle rap leagues, Grind Time, Fight Klub, & KOTD, was one of the first to capture these talented MCs rhyming uncensored rounds of verbal ammunition. This is something that would never happen on mainstream TV or mainstream radio.  YouTube became a vital component in the growth of Battle Rap and the Hip-Hop community progressively turned their interest away from mainstream Hip-Hop to Battle Rap’s viable roots.

Jae Millz vs Murda Mook
(Image via


SMACK DVD set up a battle with Jae Millz and a young hungry MC with no name at the time, Murda Mook (circa 2005-2006).  The battle took place in front of the Adam Clayton Powell Jr. State Office Building on 125th Street in Harlem.  The battle was aired on YouTube, at the time, to 10s of thousands of viewers.  Jae Millz was the seasoned Harlem veteran that we were all familiar with from “Making the Band 2” & his music. “Yo! Your best 3.  Give me your best 3 rounds, man!” Millz says to Mook at the beginning of the video.  We expected a clear and concise defeat.


“You a phony homie/ It’s time you get executed/Somebody tried and failed but I’mma be the best to do it.” Mook’s first line.  Big talk coming from a no name.   As the battle continued for 5 rounds each MC came with their best rhymes.  Mook was lyrically impressive against the seasoned vet.  When it was all said and done Murda Mook had made a credible name for himself.  Mook’s victory in this battle was not the outcome but the fact that he garnered respect from an esteemed class of battle rappers and fans alike as someone who was a force to be reckoned with.


After that battle Murda Mook’s name was the name you looked for when searching for battles on YouTube.  He went on to battle legends, such as Loaded Lux, Party Arty, & Serius Jones.  There is still debate whether Mook actually won any of these battles.  Nonetheless, they are all considered classic battles by Battle Rap standards.  From 2005-2007 Mook became the face of Battle Rap (particularly on SMACK), quite like Jerry West is the logo for the NBA.   A great feat when you consider that Murda Mook seemingly popped out of nowhere.  When you thought about SMACK & battle rap you thought about Murda Mook.  He became this in large measure due to his presence & believability in front of the camera.   Mook actually talked to the camera as if having a conversation with YouTube viewers.  He wasn’t the first to do it but he was the one that stood out from the rest.  This may seem insignificant but it was actually quite ingenious because it took Battle Rap from a detached experience with two MCs battling each other to an inclusive experience, as if you were there at the battle.   Mook brought an entertainment value to Battle Rap that no one else did at the time.   As a result of this, performance became a vital part of winning a battle and other battlers followed suit & started to incorporate more of a performance value into their sets.   This helped to propel Battle Rap to new heights.


As Mook’s name became increasingly popular more & more battlers challenged him to battle.  His self-proclamation as the greatest battle MC led to battlers discrediting that title. These braggadocious claims to be the best coupled with the way Mook seemed to keep potential battles at bay by leveraging his purse amount didn’t sit well with fellow battlers and fans, especially, his claims of getting offered $25,000 for the Young Hot battle, an amount that people felt was both astronomical and undeserving. This caused disdain & extreme criticism almost to the point of hatred.  Even today fans still bring that up when discounting Mook as a legend.


I have no facts to back this up but in my opinion Murda Mook’s shrewd business tactics are probably one of the reasons battlers can now demand what they’re worth today.  If this is true then he’s had a great deal of influence on the fact that battlers can make a living off Battle Rap.  On the other hand he has also dug his Battle Rap career an early grave.  There is a fine line between businessman and artist and most Battle Rap fan’s feel as though Mook has crossed that line.  From the young hungry MC who battled Jae Millz and called out Cassidy just for the love of MC’ing, to the shrewd and calculating businessman who wants battles only for the sake of the almighty dollar.


As Battle Rap evolved SMACK re-focused and created the URL (Ultimate Rap League).  There were a new generation of battlers and a wider audience.  Though Mook had signed to Ruff Ryders by this time and hadn’t been an active battle rapper for a few years his name had been & still is the most mentioned in URL history.  Although most of those mentions are challenges to battle and insults to his character, his crew the Dot Mob, and his credibility as a battle rapper, his name is kept alive.

Loaded Lux – “You gon get this work!”
(Image via


Summer Madness 2


August 19, 2012 made Hip-Hop history.   The URL hosted Summer Madness 2 at Webster Hall in New York City, an event that featured some of the most anticipated rap battles, and also an event that I had the opportunity to shoot video for.  The event drew out big names in the music industry like P. Diddy, Busta Rhymes, Q-Tip, Lloyd Banks, & JR Writer.  Ciroc Vodka was a sponsor.  This was major for Battle Rap.  The theme of SM2 was to bring back the “legends” of the Battle Rap game.  These legends consisted of Murda Mook, Iron Solomon, Loaded Lux, E-Ness, T-Rex (an active legend), & Serius Jones.   For a long time it had been debated if the legends can hang with the new generation of battlers.  SM2 was the platform to prove that.


Loaded Lux stole the show that night in his battle against Calicoe.  That battle single handedly pushed the URL into the mainstream.  Murda Mook, whose battle with Iron Solomon was the main event that night, failed to meet fans’ expectations.  Although, Mook clearly won the battle he was heavily lambasted for his performance.  The only bad battle he had in his career became the measuring stick for his career. This happened for a few reasons.  The first reason is that an atmosphere of hatred surrounding Mook had been created long before this battle.  Mainly, instigated by fanatics who for whatever reason decided to jump on the “I hate Murda Mook” bandwagon.  Secondly, the battle should have never been 5 5-minute rounds.    That’s way too long, especially, for a crowd that was standing for over 8 hours.  Lastly, fans didn’t feel like his performance was worth the $20,000 he was paid.  They felt that his love for the money tainted his love for the culture.


Recently, I’ve been reading comments on Twitter that Murda Mook can’t beat Tsu Surf & that Iron Solomon was never a worthy opponent & that’s why Mook won.  I’ve even heard people say that after SM2 Mook is no longer a legend.  Anyone who says that Murda Mook is not a legend or that he wasn’t one of the best in his prime has checked out to lunch.  It’s absolutely absurd to discount him as a Battle Rap legend or a dope lyricist.


Anyone who is a true fan of Battle Rap is a fan of the purity of Hip-Hop music.  Fans logon YouTube to watch battles & purchase tickets to events to listen to great bars and to leave with something to ponder and debate with their friends.  The love of Hip-Hop, substantial bars, and competition to be the best is what fuels Battle Rappers.  On the flip side the need to survive in this world, provide for your family, attain some sense of financial freedom, and to expand business interests fuels the business of Battle Rappers. These two diametrically opposed motives cause sharp disagreements and conflicts.  As for Murda Mook the question from loyal fans to his antagonists is “Where’s the love?” for this man and his legacy.  For the latter, the question for Mook is “Where’s the love?” for the Battle Rap culture.


Eddie Bailey of Savoy Media Group, for War Room Sports (Operation Battle Rap)