Jay: One of Richmond's premier battle rap leagues, Southpaw Battle Coalition, is having a sixteen-emcee tournament to see who will walk away with a two thousand dollar grand prize. This tourney to determine the league's first world and River City champion has a variety of different emcees from SMACK URL's J Morr to world slam poetry champion Breeze The Poet to past RVA Rap Elite champion King Fizzle, New York's own Leek Bucks, and music artists like B.A.S.I.C. and Ro$$etti. The visual below by the face of the league Radio B gives a chilling introduction and explanation of the importance of this sixteen battle rapper tournament which the first round will start this Sunday.
What makes this tournament interesting are the different themes and styles that can play important factors in each bracket. Some examples are:
Inexperience versus experience. Some emcees have only one to three official battles under their belt while Big Jinya is the most experienced with twenty-five official battles.
Slam poets versus emcees who strictly focus on writing in battle rap situations or specialize in songwriting.
Regional colloquialisms can play into effects for relatability and understanding of slang and references when a battle happens in person along with how the emcee's verses translate on camera for people to watch after the battles occur. Think of regional cultures facing against each other such as the eastern Virginia cities like Norfolk, Virginia Beach, Portsmouth in the 757 area versus Richmond and New York styles.
Southpaw veterans versus veterans from other battle rap leagues like League of Champions and Bring Ya Barz Battle League.
Thomas: Following a year of quarantining, giving the emcees a period to reflect on what they find important and push their pens, this tournament couldn't have come at a better time. While covering the face-off event, I could feel intense energy from all in attendance. Every emcee had a fire in their eyes as if it was already battle day. After learning about the experience gaps in some of these matchups, namely Breeze the Poet versus Bakarii Kennedy and J Morr versus Robalu, the matchups have gotten even more interesting. The anticipation of watching a composed and confident veteran versus a fresh face to the sport with nothing to lose is very high. In the words of many of the emcees that I got a chance to speak with, "nobody has an easy road to the finals."
Conversation w/ Ro$$eti
T: After looking at all the brackets for the first round, how are you feeling about some of these matchups?
R: The matchups are crazy man, everybody here can rap. All of them are going to be good. As for me right now, I’m just focusing on my opponent. I’m not trying to look past them, I’m just trying to go one by one by one. This whole event is fire, it’s something that’s going to get more eyes on everybody. We’re all helping and each other out, and I’m fucking with it.
T: Absolutely. Lastly, in your battle with King Fizzle at the end of last year, during your second verse, you talked about Fizzle being a guest in the house of hip hop, which echoes a sentiment repeatedly voiced by Lord Jamar. With hip hop being the zeitgeist, how do you feel about people from outside the black community gravitating toward hip-hop culture in mass in this way?
R: I don’t have a problem with it at all, I feel like hip-hop is for everyone. It was just the way that Fizzle worded one of his posts that I didn’t really care for. He worded it as if everybody built hip-hop, and it wasn’t like that. It was ours and we allowed everybody else in, you know what I’m saying. So, people are definitely allowed in and are more than welcome to come. During that battle, I felt that I needed to highlight that moment and make him understand why that wasn’t alright.
Watch his heated faceoff against poet and emcee Jordan Bailey below
Conversation w/ Will Jung
T: After looking at all the brackets, how are you feeling about some of these first-round matchups?
WJ: Everybody has a challenge, bruh. I don’t think anybody has it easy. Everybody’s talking their shit inside and outside of group chats, so it’s going to be a lot of fun. I think it’s definitely going to be an uphill battle. I don’t think anyone has an easy road to the grand prize. Some people “think” they do, and going to be a problem. We all rap, and we all have some experience. Bakarii is probably the only one that has a couple of battles under their belt, but outside of that, everybody’s just here to rap, man. Everybody’s here to rap.
T: In your battle with Woosah on Survival Games, you rapped about how white people's prejudices are often perpetuated in gang culture as a way to call black people to unify against our oppressors. With battle rap being a sport in which people talk heavily about gun usage and other forms of violence, do you feel about using this platform to take that stance in such a confident way?
WJ: There is an art to battle rap, and I do believe that gun bars are a part of the culture of battle rap. I don’t dislike anybody that uses them at all because, you know, if they’re clever they’re clever. I’ve referenced a gun in a clever way in some of my battles. I don’t use them but, there’s a clever way of going about doing so. I think that sometimes there’s a surface level of gun bar use that every battle rapper uses, you know it’s the “four jammin’ go blammin’, I ain’t scar-” you know it’s just like, yo fam get creative with that shit. Break down how a gun is used. I’m just all about the art and the creativity of it. So the stance I took, was because of my opponent being so gun-bar heavy with no substance behind it. I can look at a guy like Rum Nitty, “Gun Line King” is how he refers to himself, but there are also metaphors, similes, word breakdowns, word flips, name flips, all that other stuff combined. I just love rap and love the aggression. If it comes to that, we knuckle up but I’ve just never been a gun guy, man. That’s never been my shit, but respect to everybody whose m.o. that is. I was just using that against my opponent, and um, yeah man fuck white supremacists. At the end of the day, fuck racism and all of that. That’s the type of time we should be on as Black people, unified, whether you have a gun or not. That’s the type of time we should be on. I love white people but fuck white supremacists. That’s just what it is.
Watch the short Will Jung Interview below and hear his thoughts on battle rap and the tournament below
Conversation w/ King Fizzle
T: After looking at all the brackets, how do you feel about some of these matchups?