Watching current “Freestyle Fridays” on 106 and Park is a snooze-fest. Occasionally there are some stand-outs but they are few. This makes me wonder about the impending death of the battle rapper. I remember waiting for the release of the newest Smack DVD to hear some of the hottest diss and braggadocios lines from some of the illest street rappers. Now I don’t even know if they still make Smack. Google would work here, huh?
Former battle rapper, Cassidy’s first single “Face to Face” off his fourth album C.A.S.H (Cass Always Stay Hard) is an ode to the many battles that he would like to see between the rap entertainers of today. All of the battles that he named, I would like to see also. Everyone wants to live the imaginary life of a rap star and fall away from what made rap what is: the lyrics. The lines that made everyone in the crowd cheer and fall back in laughter. With the exception of a few rappers like Fabolous and Jadakiss, there aren’t many lyrical mainstream rappers. A rap cipher without inventive and impressing lyrics would be boring and a waste of time. I’m sure every Hip-Hop lover would want to hear witty comebacks and out-of-this-world metaphors that most people would never think of. It seems that those days are coming to an end and it’s a scary end at that.
You can type in any rap battle on YouTube (it’ll probably be from years ago) and figure which one has their lyrics memorized or the one who is really coming off the top with witty comebacks. But there is an epidemic with the battle rapper. These rappers have become famous on the street level through their lines but when it comes to making a hit song, they can’t seem to find the right market. Their fans from their battles don’t even buy their singles and albums. So that leaves the question, “Is battle rapping a way to find it in the industry?” Take the battle rapper Jin for an example. He murdered his competition through “Freestyle Friday” on 106 and Park, which led to the Ruff Ryders offering him a record deal. He released a few singles and then fell of the face of the earth.
Freestyles brought hype to unknown rappers and battles made them seem more epic. When Canibus and LL Cool J were thrust into a back and forth diss record battle, skill from both artists was put to the test. LL was considered more of a romantic rapper and Canibus was known for his rugged rap style. To have such an epic battle made on record and show that each had the wittiness to outwit the other was what battle rapping was all about. Nowadays rappers would make one song then make peace with each other because all the focus is on getting money. In the midst of getting money there also has to be a place for having talent. You can make a few hit songs but that doesn’t show the average Hip-Hop lover that your lyrics stand out from the other hit song makers.
Bring out the black suits, limousines, black roses and violins because there is an impending funeral. The technology is so much greater today than it was before that battle rapping isn’t even a first choice for budding rappers. You can record your song, shoot your own video, make a CD cover and market yourself through the internet. The power of money has taken over the beauty of talent and what it had to offer. As I sing my Amazing Grace, I bow my head and hope that at the crossroads I can see the battle rappers of yesterday. Amen!
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