It’s becoming a broken record.
SMACK/ URL is the Def Jam of the battle rap industry creating platforms for some of the most gifted lyricists in the culture to showcase their gifts. Retired rapper, media influencer, and former Def Jam artist, Joe Budden, says that one of the most essential contributions that labels from the 90s and 2000s provided for their roster was to create spaces for artist’s development. While the average eye might have thought labels like Def Jam were ignoring new and rising talent, the Cohen/Liles/Greenwald Trifecta institutes a baking period that never let acts drop before they were really cooked. Why put a spotlight on a soufflé before it was just right for public consumption. The figurative Def Jam boot camp allowed for the co-mingling of creative tiers, you’d find a hungry State Property studying the blueprint set by their leader Beanie Sigel, a Redman learning the ropes on tour with EPMD, or a then green Kanye West testing his genius against the prowess of a JAY-Z. There were ranks that could easily be climbed or dismantled- Juelz Santana with his break out hit “Oh Boy” or Budden with his “Pump It Up,” and some people who found themselves on ice- Lady Luck.
Giving artists the co-signs to rock with the brand is dignity provision that most of them not only need but crave like sex. It takes them from the juvenile gratification of masturbation (stroking their own egos by self-proclamation) to the ecstatic expression of social and professional orgasm- “Yes! I made it to the mountaintop. And this feels good.”
Cheeko, Beasley and Smack White seem to have figured it out. With the Banned Legacy franchise, they formatted a three-day experience that allows artists to bake until their ready, but give them the “this feel-good” climax.
Can’t figure out what’s better… the feeling or the look.
Banned Legacy is a hybrid franchise that combines the wildly popular Banned series with the successful advancement card for PGs, Born Legacy. As each one grows, the public is treated to surprise main event battles and also some polished up Proving Ground match ups.
Born Legacy 3, the card from the past weekend, seemed like a music festival. Flashes of battle rap royalty filled the room, Tay Roc, Ave, Chess, and Arsonal yucked it up with fans, while We Go Hard’s Ms. Jade, Battle Rap Trap’s Hennyman and vet Danja Zone pressed forward their influencer power. While BL3 had the potential of being one of the most diverse events of the franchise’s history, it seemed to be more of a Goonies (translation DMV) vs. Jersey set (with a few nods to the midwest and west). And not just because it was in VA.
But first… let’s look at the PG battles:
- Ru Bando vs. Joe Gambello (D1)
- Kid Chaos vs. J Krooger (D2)
- RACCS vs. Stumbles (D2)
- Luck Dollaz vs. Tubbs (D3)
- 280 Zay vs. Radio B (D3)
- G Lowe vs. Skatez (D1)
- Ish Mulah vs. Funeral F.A.M.E. (D1)
- Bonus vs. Swagtanna (D2)
- Cortez vs. JC (D1)
- Series Jones vs. Mike P (D3)
- Ill Will vs. Geechi Gotti (D3)
- Shotgun Suge vs. Jakkboy Maine (D3)
- Bill Collector vs. Your Honor (D3)
- O-Red vs. Danny Myers (D2)
- Swamp vs. Bad Newz (D2)
- Ryda vs. Mackk Myron (D3)
- Jai 400 Block vs. Lu Castro (D3)
- Don Marino vs. Holmzie Da God (D1)
- Mr. Wavy vs. Mack Mell (D3)
- Nunn Nunn vs. Burke Bucs (D3)
- J Morr vs. Deizal (D1)
Stand-Outs from the weekend were J. Krooger (who proved that he deserves to be on the URL stage), Mike P (who said keep your white boys can’t rap back there in the wacky woods) and Mack Mell (who stayed afloat in crashing waters of Mr. Wavy).
Battles that made you take a second look were Ill Will vs. Geechi Gotti (a preference bloodbath), Bill Collector vs. Your Honor (one of the best and funniest battles of the weekend) and Ryda vs. Mack Myron (style clash and bar fest).
The elephant in the room (and later out on the street) were the Goonies apparent takeover of the Banned Series and the Jersey guys saying- “Eh No!”
The Shotgun Suge vs. Jakkboy Maine battle and the Jai 400 Block vs. Lu Castro battle had Nu Jerzey Twork defending his loyalty. Twork, arguably the leader of The Goonies clique has come under fire for seeming like he is a crew switcher (remember the Cave Gang thing… put a pin in that)… But this technically can’t be called crew switching. He lives in Jersey and rocks with the Jersey dudes… so when the battle rap superstar stood on the side of his battle rap crew instead of his home-state… many scratched his head.
This was particularly true during the Shotgun Suge against Jakkboy battle. Suge and Twork will together form the Monstars for this the URL battle event of the year (yes… another battle of the year… they keep pushing the bar), Summer Impact. There was an expected allegiance in the air during the beginning of this battle. Where was Twork going to stand?
Even Suge was unsure… (or at least he acted like that). And when Twork stood in the back of Jakk, the added fuss was like “How you gonna go over there?”
It reminded fans of the storylines of Andre The Giant and Hulk Hogan- him siding with Bobby “The Brain” Heenan on the Piper’s Pit, going against the ally that had seemed to walk in true friendship. While it might not be that deep… the entertainment value of not just URL, but battle rap culture, is definitely on WWF/WWE levels. Twork and Suge make a great team as bullies and bad guys, making them storybook villains. Twork’s standing behind Jakk (which really makes sense), placed the “Strapped In” bar-master in a conundrum. Who are you really down with Twork? It also pushed the narrative forward… that anything can happen… and that the position behind the battling rapper says just as much about your folk… as it says about your rapping ability…
PROVEN CLEARLY BY HOW QUICKLY SUGE AND TWORK (WHO WERE UNITED IN THEIR JERSEY ‘ISH BEHIND SERIUS JONES… QUICKLY LEFT AFTER HOMIE FOR CUT BY THE WHITE BOY WHO PLAYS WITH HIS HAIR AFTER HIS BARS).
Don’t believe me… just look at where the Cave Gang guys stood (pit or behind the lyricists). Look at whenever Tay Roc positions himself on stage… it is just for the look… it is for the messaging of it all.
Standing behind Suge was not the only conflict with Twork… but that is the only one we will talk about here.