THE HEAT OF THE BATTLE

Our society loves competition, from football, basketball, boxing and beyond, we want to participate in it or cheer on our favorites.  The same is true within hip hop culture.

Years ago you could find groups of enthusiastic young people circled together taking turns showing their verbal prowess. Eventually, among countless assertions of superiority, these would-be MCs began to take direct aim at each other in an attempt to prove who is truly the best…and battle rap was born.

Personally I love hip hop, but many who are not familiar say things like “anyone can do that”.  Far too often critics look at hip hop culture and make snap judgments based out of ignorance. You see (predominantly) young black men and hear rapid fire speech peppered with profanity and chalk it up to ignorance. You see aggressive movements and actions and immediately fear violence.  In their ignorance they completely miss the skill and intellect necessary to call yourself a MC, a rapper.

Battle rap is the bare bones of competition. It does not matter how fast you can run or how high you can jump. No fancy sneakers or high-tech equipment will help you. A battle rapper goes into the ring by himself, his weapons are his voice and his mind. This is not a place for the timid or the weak. There is no escaping the heat of the battle.

I have watched various battles on YouTube from leagues based out of New York, Canada and elsewhere, but lucky for me Columbus has an active battle scene.  On April 30th I was finally able to witness battles live and in person, thanks to a Shotz Fired Battle Rap League event, in association with Who’s Hot Battle Grounds.

There were 5 battles set for the night between MCs from Columbus, Cleveland and Dayton. I found out about the battles by following the league information on Facebook (SHOTZ FIRED).

 

One of the things that originally annoyed me about battle rap is that there were no judges, no declared winners.  My initial reaction was “WHAT!?  How do we know who won!?”..but then I noticed the discussions…the opinions.  You see, there is no end-zone to reach for points, no basket or nets.  You do not get 2 points for a punchline, 5 points for a clever rhyme scheme or 2 points for stage presence, it is all subjective.  After I thought about it a while, that was one of the best parts of it, you got a chance to debate the outcome and hear other people’s opinions which allowed you a chance to recognize what appealed to different people.  For instance, here are two of the battles from that night (please visit SHOTZ FIRED BRL on YouTube to see the remaining battles)…who do you think won?

 

Watch “Stich em up Vs King Ox” on YouTube

 

 

Watch “Freddie-D vs Bo55avellI” on YouTube

 

It was a great night for me, I thoroughly enjoyed myself.  Seeing the battles live was a completely different experience than watching them on YouTube.  The energy in the room, the varied reactions from the crowd, similar to being at a ballgame versus watching the game at home, there is a definite difference.  The event (BYOB, Bring Your Own Bars) was held in a small section of a warehouse.  It was a long building with a door every several feet indicating the different businesses that were housed inside.  It was easy to spot where the battle was, the door was open, the lights were on, there were a few people outside, and the gentleman with SECURITY across his shirt was just inside the door.  I entered through the outside door, met security, paid my cover and went through a second door that opened up to a space with a few chairs along the back and a stage at the front.  I found my way to a seat in the back of the room where I could observe all the happenings.  The flyers noted a 7pm start time and the first battle got underway around 10pm (which was perfect since I arrived around 9:30pm).  Initially I believe I heard mention of a 3 minute time limit for each round of each battle (with each battle consisting for 3 rounds), but shortly after round 1 of battle 1 that time was extended to “unlimited”.  Between battles music played and many people went outside for their own personal intermissions, but after 10-15 minutes the next battle was set and began.  Of course I stayed until all 5 battles were done, leaving the venue at approximately 2am.

Now, let me address some concerns.  I posted several pictures from the event…

 

…and I got some immediate reactions like “where are you?”, “be careful!”, “are you the only woman there?”.  I chuckled at first, but then I realized that people are actually nervous about going to the battles.  I am a little disappointed that so many people seem to get nervous at the sight of a gathering of black men, but let me just give you my take on it.

I attended this event by myself, and I did not know anyone there.  No one bothered me, and no one was bothering anyone else for that matter.  I am not some brave soul, I am just a fan of rap that does not let the sight of young black men frighten me.  Plus, I was not the only woman there, there were several females in attendance.  Some people have seen Facebook videos of some guys in the park or on the corner “rapping” and it comes to blows, but this was not some random gathering, this was a planned organized event with men that take this seriously.  Even though battles are based on competition, the participants and the audience showed appreciation and respect for the people, the craft and their skill.  Those from Cleveland and elsewhere showed respect to Columbus and Columbus showed respect in return.  If someone was impressive, the crowd showed them love, regardless of where they were from.  There was no trouble or issues, I felt completely comfortable all night.  If you are a rap fan, and especially if you are a battle rap fan, do yourself a favor and experience it live, trust me, there is nothing like being there for The Heat of the Battle.

I would like to thank A.R. Green of Shotz Fired for the experience, I look forward to the next event.

…and as always…stay tuned, because you never know what you might get when AndreaSpeakz

ANDREA HOWARD

www.twitter.com/AndreaSpeakz

www.facebook.com/AndreaSpeakz

AndreaSpeakz@gmail.com

 

 

Ben Carter, Imported From Michigan

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Benjamin Owen Carter is a music maker.

Some people spend the better part of their lives searching for their calling, but by age 4 a toy guitar and a toy piano were helping introduce Ben to his future.  He would make up songs on his tiny instruments, and by age 6 when he received a tape recorder, he took the time to record covers of some of the country music his mother would listen to, and he even recorded his own original songs (of course, Ben admits that it was mostly random “banging on the keys and wailing nonsense”, but it was the start of his music making magic none the less).  When young Ben started school a kindergarten classmate introduced hip-hop to his world with tales of rappers like LL Cool J and Snoop Dogg.  All of these early formative experiences took place in Pontiac, MI and it continued after he moved to North Branch, MI at the age of 8.  By 9 years old he tackled a “real” instrument when he joined the school band and began playing the trombone (while we could say he realized that the trombone was a classic jazz instrument, the truth is, he liked the slide).  He continued with the trombone for the next 12 years (you will more than likely get to hear his skill in action on future projects).  A few years after picking up the trombone he expanded his musical capabilities and began playing drums as well.  Ben was not the only musician in his family, and many times family gatherings would turn into jam sessions with uncles that played blues guitar as well as a cousin that is the guitarist for the band King.  Ben even joined a few different rock bands as he continued on his musical journey, and that was the catalyst for a move to Chicago at age 17.

While rock and blues were prevalent in Ben’s world, hip hop was ever-present as well.  In junior high school his MC skills consisted of rapping along with the CDs from artists like Jay-Z, Nas, Eminem and more; but the song that really cemented his connection with hip hop was Biggie’s Gimme The Loot. Ben Carter was well on his way now, with rapping and music in his blood, he began to work on production in 2002. A friend showed him Fruity Loops and he built his knowledge by remaking Neptune beats as he figured out the process. By 2005 he began writing his own lyrics, and then he was officially a producer rapper double threat.  He lists lyrical influences such as B.I.G., Sean Prince, Vinny Paz, Jay-Z, Nas and Eminem.  Then there is the production influences, such as Pete Rock, Large Professor, Premier, Pharrell, Alchemist, Stoupe and Timbaland.

In 2013 Ben released his album Imported From Michigan, featuring lead single The Come Up.

Musician, producer, rapper, Ben Carter, no alias or nick names needed.

Be on the look out for more music and collaborations coming soon.

 

www.datpiff.com/B-Carter-Imported-From-Michigan-mixtape.526570.html

www.soundcloud.com/ben-carter-2

www.twitter.com/benny_carter

Bio’s by AndreaSpeakz

 

Louisville Fresh Fest

DjBigO317

FRESH FEST 2014

The Belvedere

485 W. Main St.

Louisville, KY 40202

(502) 574-3768

Gates open at 4 pm. Show starts at 6 pm. B.Y.O.L.C.

( BRING YOUR OWN LAWN CHAIR)

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How’s about a trip to Louisville, Kentucky for the 2nd Annual Louisville Fresh Fest presented by HENNESSY.

Hosted by Comedian Henry Welch

For performance by:  Big Daddy Kane, MC Lyte, and EPMD with special guest performance by Ying  Yang Twins and HURRA SEASON 

It’s the 25th Anniversary of

Big Daddy Kane’s   “It’s a Big Daddy Thing”

MC Lyte’s    “Eyes on This”

EPMD’s   “Unfinished Business!”

LIMITED ADVANCE TICKETS $30.00

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OUTLETS:

BETTER DAYS WEST  2600 W BROADWAY SUITE 400

EXCLUSIVE WEAR  630 E BROADWAY

FULL COURT FASHIONS  2028 W BROADWAY

TREASURES in JEFFERSON MALL

ONLINE AT: http://LouisvilleFreshFest.eventbrite.com

For Sponsorship and Vending Packages call (502) 286-9636

http://louisvillefreshfest@yahoo.com

http://louisvillefreshfest.org

http://www.1013online.com/

http://www.hiphopb965.com/

FOLLOW @      Twitter:   

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The Gutter Prospect

G. Prospect, or Gutta Prospect as he is also known, is an up and coming chicago rapper.  You may have read the previous piece I wrote on him…if not click HERE.

In the spirit of great MC/producer combos, his most recent project is The Intervention.  A collaborative effort with producer Ben Carter.

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Gutter often refers to the slums. Often used to refer to poverty or someone who came from the bottom.

Prospect is a person regarded as likely to succeed.

An MC not focused on bragging about name brands and flashing stacks of cash seems to be rare…but with a name like Gutta Prospect he quickly gives you an insight into who he is.

Like so many great MCs before him, he is looking to express himself and use rap as the outlet to tell his story. He wants to make himself the focus…with a life that is far from mansion living and Bugatti driving I asked him…

A.S. – Tell me what you want to say…what you want the people to know about you…what kind of artist you are, what kind of artist you want to be…what drives you to keep going?

G.P. – “What I really wanna say is I’m normal, go through everyday life situations worried about the next meal. Music is the escape from that… those few hours honestly feel like therapy, in a way my repentance. That’s why the music is always reflective, and story driven Bc these are msgs to my kids and friends having kids, ya know… I feel like music is a fine art and you can’t have light without the dark… can’t have everybody popping bottles bc for all those hustling to hit the club.. ill never knock you but I wanna keep the lights on. And move people emotionally. Evoke feeling. What more so drives me is the art of putting words together to a melody with a level of intellect that requires a third or fourth listen, The artist I am is a storyteller… I’m a mad poet lol”

Aside from the skill he has as an MC and story-teller there is one aspect of Gutta Prospect that caught my attention immediately. The bare bones of a rapper. His voice. He has what (in my opinion) could be one of the great iconic voices of hip hop…like Guru or Rakim…an instantly recognized voice.

He is working on a new project at this very moment, and as he progresses and continues on his life’s journey, I look forward to hearing the rest of his story.

Be on the look out for more from G. Prospect.

Gee Prospect SoundCloud

Twitter @Gee_Its_Simple

 

 

…and as always…stay tuned, because you never know what you might get when AndreaSpeakz

ANDREA HOWARD

www.twitter.com/AndreaSpeakz

www.facebook.com/AndreaSpeakz

AndreaSpeakz@gmail.com

 

DRex: An Atlanta Hip Hop Artist Keeping it Real

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DRex New Music – An Atlanta Hip

 Hop Artist

DRex: Rapper Keeping it Real

When DRex released his first album (“Hustler/Rapper”) on Datpiff.com in Fall 2011, it taught him the power of connections and networking even without the marketing tools he needed. Even today the “Hustler/Rapper” album has a guaranteed hot tracklist for music heads who know the power of DRex, telling the truth with tracks like “My Life”, “Faghettaaboutit”, “Trappin” (with Gorilla Zoe), and others:

  • Intro (The Promise Land)
  • My Hood
  • Come Home feat. Danita
  • Do Your Thang
  • Tipping feat. Diamond
  • Drink the Pain Away
  • Ain’t No Show feat. Isaiah
  • What’s Life feat. Hell Rell
  • You Don’t Know feat. Danielle

But for DRex, music was never far away. It wouldn’t be long before he was campaigning for a DRex new single, “Where You From” now available on iTunes and YouTube

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Lil’Mike is Jackin’ for Beats

I found Lil’Mike on Twitter (www.twitter.com/lilridley) some time ago.  I can’t even remember exactly how it came about.  He is part of Military Minded Entertainment; and while I am familiar with many people in that network now, I am fairly certain Mike was the first one I came across.  Since then he has released a good number of songs, with the latest collection being his mixtape, Jackin’ for Beats.

Jackin’ for Beats

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When I hear the phrase “jackin’ for beats” the first thing I think about is Ice Cube, so if that is the name of a rappers mixtape he has set my expectations very high.
 
While the name makes me think of Ice Cube, the concept makes me think of 50 cent.  Back during the “50 Cent is the Future” days he was infamous for taking popular songs and putting his spin on the beat.  I love this idea because it will lead a listener to directly compare the (usually) new artist to the already established, successful artist.   It gives the new blood a chance to show their unique skill and talent.  Of course, this only works in your favor if you do it well.  The key is to take that familiar, popular song and re-do it in an exciting and memorable way.  Don’t do your version of their song, do what YOU do on the beat.  50 did it so well that I often liked his version more than the original.   So, I was excited to see that Lil’Mike grabbed the proverbial bull by the horns and came straight at the top of today’s hip-hop heap with songs like Magna Ridley Holy Grail, which kicks off this entire experience.

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You can ride out with Lil’Mike as he commits this musical jack move on todays rap game.  Find out who this young Chicago rapper is as he discusses the “Levels” to all this, and as he pours pure emotion out on “Dear Anne”.  Follow him as he tells you about being “Honest” and lets you know it’s” Lil Mike Nigga”.  This is a journey through familiar sounds, getting you in tune with a new voice in hip-hop.  He’s no thief, but Lil’Mike is Jackin’ For Beats.

…and as always…stay tuned, because you never know what you might get when AndreaSpeakz

ANDREA HOWARD

www.twitter.com/AndreaSpeakz

www.facebook.com/AndreaSpeakz

AndreaSpeakz@gmail.com