SMACK/URLTV is the most important stage in battle rap league throughout the world. It is has a reputation for putting together classic match ups year after year – driving Hip-Hop forward through its vehicle of battle rap. We caught up with talent scout Norbes from URL, hoping to learn more about its origins and what’s next as they continue to take battle rap to the next level.
How did you first get into Hip-Hop and Battle Rap?
Hip-Hop? Honestly my uncle back in the day gave me a Redman album, and my cousin gave me a Cypress Hill album. It was a vibe. A feel. It was different. Eventually, growing up in Brooklyn, I became a fan of Biggie. When he hit the scene, I fell in love with it. I was never a Rakim fan, a KRS fan, but when Biggie finally hit the scene… that made me really fall in love with hip hop.
In regards to battle rap, I was never really a follower of battle rap.
I saw the Lady Luck vs. Remy Ma and the Serius Jones vs Jin. I began working with Math Hoffa, who I was introduced to by a sneaker company that was sponsoring me at the time. The first time I met Math was through his manager at the time Darren. I started working with Math on music. I believed that battle rappers couldn’t make music. Math had brought over this DVD, it was a Lionz Den DVD. I was watching it, and I ended up really rocking with battle rap when I saw Goodz vs. K-Shine.
Goodz was the one that really got me to really pay attention to battle rap. There was so many dope things about that battle, from there I actually reached out to Goodz. From there, I started going to the GrindTime events. I was doing music, and going to events for fun.
How, when and with who did URLTV first develop? How did the October 31 2009 event in NYC co-hosted by STAR aka Troi Torain develop?
I was in the Dominican Republic and Math called me. He said Loaded Lux is working on a TV show with HBO and Russell Simmons. He told me Lux had wanted him to battle T-Rex. He told me that Rex offered him X amount of money. I told Math not to jump on the first offer. I reached out to PH (RIP PH) told him about the Math vs. T-Rex battle and he stopped me and offered me X amount of money for the battle. I told him to hold on, let me reach out to Lux before anything. I hit Lux and told him what we were getting offered. We tried to reach an agreement, but we just couldn’t find an agreement. I called PH and he made the offer even better. Spoke to Math and Rex they both agreed and it was a go.
PH and I lost communication, and I thought the battle was lost.
At this point SMACK and I were just friends, he was trying to recruit me to his team. I called SMACK, and Beasley wanted to come out with a league that centered around the streets. I didn’t know why he was calling me. Beasley said “me and SMACK want to do this league” but understand that you have a great pulse on what’s going on with the culture. I remember telling Cortez that I was going to start my own battle league with SMACK and Beasley and everyone thought I was bugging. We are doing the URL’s first event with no budget.
I reached out to Goodz, asked for help.
I wanted him to battle, but he wasn’t interested. Instead, he told me STAR was a big fan of battle rap. I was a big fan of STAR, he was an inspiration that ended up with me starting my Norbes It All Podcast. I reached out to STAR and he was excited to host the battle. GrindTime had an event on October 31, so we wanted to do our event on October 31 to spite them. We wanted to establish dominance out the gate: Cortez vs. X-Factor, Young Miles vs. Rich Dollarz, Big T vs. Deacon Frost and Math Hoffa vs. T-Rex.
What are some of the most influential battles in your opinion in URLTV’s history?
- Math Hoffa vs. T-Rex – That was the beginning. IF this doesn’t go off right, we are looked at as dumbasses.
- Hitman Holla vs. Aye Verb – This was and still is the biggest Midwest heavyweight fight in battle rap history. This was the first heavyweight Midwest fight. It showed how the Midwest was a staple in battle rap.
- JC vs. Chilla Jones – That was the first battle of new dudes that became legendary.
- Loaded Lux vs. Calicoe – It has reached heights that no battle has ever seen. It was really showcased to the entire world. It was a statement that URL was here to stay and will be here forever.
I would say these four in particular because of what they meant at the time and what they still mean to the culture today.
We recently saw Cassidy enter the URLTV stage vs. Goodz. What other so-called “Industry” rappers do you think potentially has what it takes to battle on URLTV?
Honestly, I think a lot of these guys are scared to jump in the ring because this is a competitive sport. You can’t hide behind no beat, this is face to face. This is the true bloodsport of hip hop. Anyone can yell at a microphone. I don’t think any of these guys could rap with Hitman Holla, Loaded Lux, Nu Jerzy Twork, Tay Roc, Tsu Surf, Chess, Ave, T-Top, Brizz Rawsteen or Geechi Gotti. The three I’d pick are Drake, Tory Lanez, and Chris Brown. Chris Brown is a big fan of the culture and he could really rap. Same with Drake and Tory. So that’s who I would say.
Long event durations such as Summer Impact resulted in the Murda Mook & Calicoe vs. T-Top & Brizz Rawsteen postponed from the main event. Do you think future battle events will have less overall battles on the card?
We have had internal discussions on how both sides (artists and leagues) can do better. Just for the fans… there are certain things we are taking into consideration in order things like that incident are don’t happen again.
How does an upcoming battle rap make their way to a look for a URLTV Proving Grounds (PG) stage? Make noise regionally? Combine a developing music career with battle rap too?
Honestly, I’m pretty much open. I personally like to go see a talent live. I like to be present in order to decipher a certain feeling in the room that the camera might not always catch. There is no direct way. I have taken recommendations from battlers such as Goodz and DNA, but I would say the absolute best way is to book me to host an event so I can see what talent potential is available at a certain league.
You recently launched the “Norbes It All” podcast – tell us about this new podcast show.
It’s something that I have had a passion for, for a long time. It’s nice cause it’s something I really do that I have fun doing. It’s just raw and uncut me. I think in reality, society today we embrace having the opportunity to understand the true perspectives of people unfiltered. Not just that but I think the concepts, along with interviews that come from “Norbes It All” podcast is a string in the net of battle rap and battle rap media that is helping the culture grow.
The dedicated URLTV App launched a couple of months ago. How gaming changing do you think this App will prove to be?
There comes a certain point in time where you have to ask your fans to support you. YouTube just has proven to be limited. The URLTV App is 100% game-changing not only to just battle rap but to creators everywhere. I definitely think this app can really change the game for all fans of the culture. Its progress and it’s the culture moving in the right direction.
Who are some of the next generation of stars to keep an eye out for developing on URLTV?
Ace Amin, Don Marino, Swamp, Piranha, Ell oh Ess, Fonz, Jay Lopez, Tru Foe, Chase Paper, Kid Chaos, Jey The Nitewing, Drugz, and Stretch Millz are just some of the names that pop into mind. There’s many more.
Following the successful ‘Summer Impact’ event, what’s next for URLTV?
We have the NYC free “Summer Impact Reloaded” event on Saturday September 7th (featuring Murda Mook & Calicoe vs. T-Top & Brizz Rawsteen, K-Shine & DNA vs. Nu Jerzey Twork & Shotgun Suge and Ace Amin vs. Snake Eyez battles), Born Legacy 8 September 29th in Cleveland, The 10-year SMACK/URLTV Anniversary Card as well as Volume 5. There’s nothing but going onwards and upwards from here on out.
Thanks to @streetstarnorbes for taking the time to break down some of the history and behind the scenes working of the URL. You can download the URLTV App today and recent battle events are available for Video On Demand streaming from www.watchbattlelive.com