It’s not often that I sit and listen to a battle rapper, or any rapper in general, and cease to hear any filler. To be captivated by each round start to finish, knowing that if one line is missed I’ll have to punch myself until the video footage drops. That’s Habeeb for you. Every time I watch him grace the stage I fear missing out on something. As should you, because it’s all connected. As an experienced vet in regards to the Richmond battle rap scene, Habeeb has been on this road for a long time, and finally, on August 12th against Big Jinya, he graced the mountaintop - winning the New World Championship belt. With a long road behind him, and hopefully, ahead of him, we
finally were able to sit down and discuss the journey moving forward:
Before we even get into the contemporary, what would Habeeb today tell the Habeeb of six years ago making his debut on L.O.C.?
I would say thank you for introducing the world to who you are. That introduction against Breeze The Poet - the pro-black bars, the trench coat, all of it I still come back to this day. So, thank you.
Did you ever feel as though you were fighting an uphill battle because of your content? Or was it just you finding your footing with the audience? Or a little bit of both?
If I didn’t come into this as myself it might’ve felt like that. I could easily be in a place where I'm faking the funk, but I've always remained authentic. I understand that everyone has their own identity, and style, and the more we stay true to that the better we are, and the more comfortable the audience will be with you.
What does this title mean to you?
I just want to give so many shots to people who wouldn’t have the chance otherwise! There are a few notable up-and-comers, a couple of vets I still have to prove myself against, but I’m ready to defend it.
What’s the current climate of the Southpaw battle Coalition? Of Battle Rap in general?
For Southpaw it's bright. For Richmond battle rap, it’s bright. We’re a part of that DMV movement, the Jakkboy’s the Radio’s; you can see their styles holding weight in the different areas around battle rap culture. As long as we continue holding it down the way we have been I see nothing but brightness.
How soon can we expect you back in the ring?
I was supposed to be retired (laughter). It’s mainly dependent on how frequently they throw events. It’ll also depend on who’s on that card. I want to watch a couple more of the ones I have my eye on to make sure they’re ready for me.
You’re also a part of the IAMI Collective, tell us more about that.
It’s a 6, 7-year-old collective of musicians that I knew throughout High-School, came around throughout college, etc. We just released a project this year (Injoy or Die released April 20th, 2022) with merch. Now we’re producing, directing, and writing a soundtrack currently for a production in New York City. A couple of different projects other than that as well.
Are the URLs and RBEs a destination point that you aspire to reach or are you more grounded in being the best version of yourself? Both of those things can correlate by the way.
I’ve never really seen myself on a Smack stage as the endgame. And that doesn’t mean that I'm focused solely on always being a local rapper, but, I understand that with URL it’s a certain style. You have to be a part of those lower cards, you have to be in the know, you have to be accustomed to that world and that’s not something that’s heavy on my mind right now. But, I'd love to rap in any league to prove who I am, whether it be the RBEs, or the KOTDs, I just haven’t figured out one is introduced to those leagues yet. The end all be all definitely isn’t just Richmond.
Follow Habeeb on Instagram: @Habeebami
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