CLEVELAND, OH – THE LAND
I have only lived in two cities in my life, and Cleveland is one of them. I was up there for about 2 years a couple of decades ago; Cleveland is literally my 2nd home, so it’s fitting that The Land was next up (after Columbus) as I became familiar with battle rap in general, and Ohio battle rap specifically.
It was a happy accident that led me to the battle rap scene in Columbus, and Cleveland was part of the picture from the beginning. The first battle I attended in April of 2016 had several Cleveland area rappers on the card, and they have been at each event I have attended since, with things culminating on July 15th with what was essentially a Columbus vs Cleveland card. That is when I was introduced to Cleveland’s Bar 4 Bar Battle League.
In the past several months of searching through battle rap I quickly realized that there are A LOT of leagues and A LOT of battle rappers out there. Trying to keep up with even a portion of them is pretty daunting, but as with any competitive activity, some qualities will help separate the competition. One obvious attribute is talent. There are some battlers that are just that much better than others, and once you see one, it is much easier to remember them and search them out again. Another factor is popularity. Sometimes, for reasons that may not have anything to do with their actual talent, a battler is known by more people so their name will come up more often. Now logically, the most talented should get recognized for their skill and that should be why their popularity grows, but there are definitely talented battlers that just haven’t gotten that recognition yet. Those who can hold their own will travel from place to place battling, which will get them seen and heard and often can help them develop a following that will enable them to level up in the culture. With every battle being filmed and uploaded to YouTube it is a fight for attention, but talent will typically cause a word of mouth relay to help determine who are the ones to watch.
My “recognized name” list isn’t nearly as extensive as some, and admittedly I have been paying far more attention to the more nationally recognized leagues, so battlers that are active on those platforms are more likely to be recognized by me. So, when I saw an October card promoted by Bar 4 Bar I was intrigued by the names I recognized. Most notably, B Magic. I was already a B Magic fan, because even though I only recently started to delve deep into battle rap, I have been familiar with it for years. Along with Magic, I recognized, Steams, 40 Barrs and Qleen Paper from the outside of Ohio battlesphere. After thinking over the idea for a couple of days I made up my mind, I was going to Cabin Fever 4. One of the interesting things I’ve noticed in battle rap…or really in the world in general. If you can tie an event to the idea of consistency and tradition, it will grab people’s attention. Clearly if it was Cabin Fever 4 there had been 3 others before it. The idea of an annual event seems to get people excited, the buzz almost creates itself once a tradition is established.
Slowly but surely I am learning more about the battle rap culture, and one lesson was driven home because I was in tune with this event that consisted of some nationally recognized names.
No shows are a current hot topic in battle rap, but at the same time, I think it may always be a relevant topic. So it would be silly of me to try to ignore the “no-show controversy” that touched the Cabin Fever card. But I think my view of it was a little different.
I had already seen several PayPerView events that had at least one battle that didn’t happen as advertised, but it was UDubb’s Alpha N Omega that really showed me a thing or two. That was the first time a battle didn’t happen that I really wanted to see, Head ICE vs Shotgun Suge. I was so upset when it was time for the battle to start and they told us that it wasn’t happening. Then I was a whole other kind of upset when I realized that they had another person to battle Suge since Ice wasn’t there. So wait…you knew the battle wasn’t going to happen, but nobody said nothing about nothing until the very moment I thought I was about to see Ice and Suge battle? Not an announcement, not a flyer change, not a quick tweet, nothing? I felt like I paid for something and got the okey doke. But what made it even worse was all the people afterwards that were saying things like “yeah, I didn’t think the King Of The Dot chain holder could battle anywhere else”…so now I am full Martin mad with it..HOL’UP, HOL’UP!!! You mean to tell me all y’all knew that Head ICE wouldn’t be battling but there were commercials and flyers and all sorts of promo telling the fans that it was gonna be… WooSah Well, you get the idea. But, time went by, the uproar died down and the battle rap world continued to spin. But the other interesting part was that T-Rex never showed up for his battle that night. There was no replacement for him, and other than Jai400, who was the battler that was supposed to see Rex in the ring, people barely talked about it. How does this tie into Cabin Fever 4?…I am glad you asked.
Well, as my battle rap knowledge continued to grow and I was watching battles and blogs and reading tweets, I was of course checking for B Magic. I had seen 1 battle of his that had recently happened and then came his battle with Born. One of the interviews surrounding that battle had someone asking B Magic about him possibly battling Clone on the Bullpen’s Fade card. However, Magic seemed to dodge the question…now, my spidey senses started tingling because the one thing I had learned in that last week or so was that the Fade card in Atlanta was on Oct. 21, the same day as the Cabin Fever card. Ok, so I go on about my business, but I pay special attention as the Fade announcements start to come out. Then, one day, I look up and there are 2 Fade flyers in my Twitter timeline. One has B Magic on it, and the other happens to have Qleen Paper. Hold the phone. Stop the presses. Houston we have a problem!
Ok so, what to do? Well, what is there to do? I sit and I watch. More Cabin Fever promo. More Fade promo. More of me sitting there like “this is some crap”. Finally one day I screenshot the flyers and start tweeting, basically saying “ain’t nobody got nothing to say about people scheduled to be in Atlanta and Cleveland the same day?”. Nope…nobody had anything to say. Ok, fine.
But, not too long after that, there was an update to Cabin Fever…no more B Magic, NuJerzey Twork had filled his spot.
I wasn’t happy but I could understand it, and at least I knew weeks before the event that I was not going to see Magic so, all’s well that ends well…but, Qleen Paper is still on two flyers and I don’t know anything about Qleen Paper at that point, other than, he is known for the no-show. I heard his name and that is all I kept hearing associated with it (again, sometimes it isn’t the talent that gets their name out there enough to be recognized) so…here I am looking at these fliers and thinking, oh it is definitely gonna happen, the question is, which one will it be. At one point I quoted a tweet from the head of Bullpen, John John the Don, asking about it…but no response. It was bothering me so much that I even hit up a well-known blogger to ask for his take on seeing this train wreck about to happen and nobody seeming to want to address it (he pretty much blew me off). So there it was…I was someone who knew well ahead of time that a battle somewhere wasn’t going to happen as advertised, and I felt stuck because nobody else seemed to care.
My Night In The Land
So I make my plans, get my girls set and we get ready to head to the land. We hit the road at noon on Saturday 10/21 and we spend almost 4 hours making our way up 71. We get in town, pull up to the hotel for check in, I get the last touches of my battle rap readiness going and we are down the road for the 4 pm let in at the event. Cabin Fever here I come.
Personally I love going to the events early so I can sit back and watch the scene unfold. Typically the lights and camera are getting set up before the action starts. People are mulling around and I can watch it all come together. Now, even though 3 of us took the trip I was rolling to the battles solo, (battle rap isn’t really my girls’ thing, they spent the time at a bookstore and a movie while I enjoyed the Fever). The venue was right on the street, so they pulled up, I hopped out and walked right in the front door. Cedarside Mone (who I had met at one of the Columbus battles and who I contacted for my Cabin Fever ticket) was right there as I walked in, he gave me a warm welcome, grabbed me a chair and placed it in a prime location.
The venue was an open space. As I had walked in the door there was a table to the left for security and ticket checking. Straight ahead the backdoor was open and I could see a few people standing out there talking. There was a bathroom just left of the back door and a table mid way down the back wall to the right that held a sign that said “$5 plates”. I never did actually see what food they had, but I did go grab a $1 water and get comfortable. There were 2 pillars in the middle of the room and I was sitting on the right side of the left pillar as I faced the wall that held the Bar 4 Bar backdrop. Soon I noticed a large square taped out on the floor in front of the backdrop and later realized that was the guide to indicate where the battlers should be for the camera. Not long after that, a gentleman came and began to set up the camera and lights right next to me between the 2 pillars so he would be square in front of the action. There were a handful of people moving around, a few were battlers that I recognized from the Columbus events, along with a few people chatting on the sidewalk out front. It all felt very comfortable.
As I sat taking in the scene I was checking my social media on updates about the Fade event. I was fully prepared to be upset that Qleen Paper ditched Cleveland for Atlanta. Bullpen seemed to be a more nationally recognized name because the face of Bullpen was a nationally recognized battler, so to me, it would make perfect sense for him to choose Atlanta over Cleveland (like it seemed B Magic did), but again, nobody every publicly addressed the obvious scheduling conflict so the outcome remained to be seen.
I was basically ear hustling the entire time I was waiting for the battles to start. Just randomly listening to the conversations going on in the venue. From time to time they would mention who was there, who was coming and who they hadn’t heard from. Unfortunately the buzz seemed to be that nobody had heard from Twork anymore that day. My spidey senses had already been tingling about him because, while he had previously confirmed that he was set to be in Cleveland via a Facebook live, and had even retweeted some mentions I had made, the last tweet I sent out had gone unacknowledged. Seemed fishy to not click a retweet on promo for a battle so close. But the most interesting thing I heard was “yeah, Qleen is here”. Uh Oh (but I admit, I was smiling when I thought it). As I continued to check my social media feed the buzz rising up from Atlanta was that Magic was choking (I was trying my best not to be petty about that, but I did announce it to the fellas in the venue)…and that nobody had seen Qleen. Well, color me surprised. I knew it was going to happen, I just didn’t think it would go this way.
Soon the venue begin to fill up, the hosts were in place, the lights and cameras were set, now all we needed was the action.
CABIN FEVER 4
Battle 1 – L1 vs Siggs
The chatter I heard (at least, what I thought I heard) was that these 2 were relatively new. I am not sure if that meant they were new to Bar 4 Bar or to battling in general, but it was a good battle. They both had bars and had good flow and performance. To me L1 was a little more animated and lively, I liked him a little better, but they were both good.
Battle 2 – J Slash vs Ell Oh Ess
This was one I really wanted to see. I was familiar with JSlash but hadn’t actually seen him battle live. The funny part is, I was familiar with him because a guy I know from NC battles out of the same league, but I was shocked to realize that Slash is from Columbus. So I found this hometown Columbus MC through a North Carolina connection.
I had seen his opponent, Ell Oh Ess, battle twice in Columbus, and I knew he was nice. The 2nd event I went to featured Ell Oh Ess mercilessly beating up on someone (you know, verbally, in the battle rap sense) So, I knew this battle should be fire and luckily it delivered.
Battle 3 – Heartless Gang vs Bloodline
The 3rd battle of the night was the first of two co-ed 2 on 2’s scheduled. 2 on 2’s always have the added element of how well each team works together to deliver their material. I enjoyed this one. You can check it out for yourself below.
Battle 4 – Qleen Paper vs Rydadie Ty
This battle was one I wasn’t actually expecting to see…for obvious reasons. But, the time came and Qleen Paper was there, and as the battle started I admit that I was more keyed in on Qleen…but then Rydadie Ty started rapping. By mid battle I realized that I was leaning forward in my chair, elbows on knees, eyes wide, mouth open…and that’s when I realized…during my earlier ear hustling before the battles got started I kept hearing guys talk about Ryda and Ty…but I didn’t know who they were, and it was at that moment that it dawned on me that Ryda and Ty were actually this one person…and now all the buzz and chatter made sense. Like I said earlier..sometimes the talented ones aren’t as well-known. I am definitely looking forward to seeing him battle again. It also made sense why he was the one battling Qleen Paper. It seems that you want your best to step forward and battle the “names” that come through…and I was glad I got a chance to see Qleen battle (especially since it apparently is not something that happens all that often).
Battle 5 – Lama Leek vs GE
Battle 6 – ATG Barkode vs Blakkout
There really weren’t any bad battles that night. Lama Leek and GE was a solid battle. The styles were a little different, but it was still good to be able to take in more talent I was previously unaware of.
Barkode and Blakkout was the second 2 on 2, and I was personally loving the fact that I was seeing so many women right in the mix with the men this night.
Battle 7 – Veg Villa vs Gamble
These 2 had both made appearances in Columbus on July 15th, but this night in Cleveland was pretty intense…they were really trying to take each other’s heads off. Go ahead, see for yourself.
Battle 8 – Black Gemini vs Steams
This was a 1 rounder right before the final battle. Both were names I recognized, even though I hadn’t actually seen them battle. Lot’s of energy.
Battle 9 MAIN EVENT 40 Barrs vs Twizted Mind
Yes, I will just say it, I am bias for the females. 40 was one of the names that I recognized as a more nationally known rapper, and since I am a female fan, I was anxious to see a female battling as the main event. This too was a 1 round bout that was a good end to the evening.
Just before 11pm was when I messaged my girls that the final battle was starting, and it was just before 11:30 when they pulled back up and I hopped back in the car and headed down the road. After a late night meal we went back to the hotel and called it a night. The next morning it was breakfast and then 71 South signs to Columbus.
Of course the next day the entire battle rap world was talking about Qleen Paper not being in Atlanta…everyone was mad and shocked (even the blogger I had hit up weeks ago) and honestly it was half smirks and half eye rolls from me, but it sure felt like the entire thing could have been addressed and settled earlier. But the not so haha funny part was, Twork no-showed that same night, but just like T Rex on UDubb, nobody seemed to mention that one.
But other than that… I had a great night in The Land. I thank Bar 4 Bar and Cedarside Mone for a great experience at a great event, and I already have my eyes set on the next card in January. Bar 4 Bar’s 5th Anniversary, War of the Gods 3.
In the mean time you can keep an eye on the Bar 4 Bar YouTube channel for more battles
…and as always…stay tuned, because you never know what you might get when AndreaSpeakz