“My mouth is effective in its speech; I do not go back on my word.” -Queen Hatshepsut of EgyptWritings from Ancient Egypt, By Toby Wilkinson
“The ladies will kick it the rhyme that is wickedLadies First, Queen Latifah, 1989
Those that don’t know how to be pros get evicted
A woman can bear you break you take you
Now it’s time to rhyme can you relate to
A sister dope enough to make you holler and scream”
“Make your check, come at they neck… Who run the world? Girls!”Run the World, Queen Bey
A bridge was made in Hip-Hop that has been under construction since the late 70s. A strategic alliance coupling to of the most notable brands in the battle rap world, Queen of the Ring and the Ultimate Rap League have finally produced their first truly intra-gender performance card promising to be a night of intense competition.
That is if you believe that girls can compete with the guys.
Most people did not believe that; believing that the only battle that would be of note would be the teamed contests between the Murda Ave crew and Mafia crew. They were shocked to see that they were wrong, as the women “rapped” their fat asses off- pushing some of the top pens to see that just because an emcee has estrogen, doesn’t mean that they can’t think and talk that sh*t like a man.
Heard you… but did the queens win their battles?
The night started out with a quick and private conversation with the first female to sign to Death Row Records, surviving on the roster with legends like Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, Tupac, and the Dogg Pound. The conversation was light and reminiscent, as she was THERE… front seat to some of the most magical adventures of Hip-Hop, but was most powerful in her measured observations is something that Queen of the Ring has been doing for a decade now. One of her concerns about the culture has always been that the legacy of true femcee lyricism not be diminished by the cattiness of how women rappers are portrayed: petty, hyper-sexual and exploitive, weak. This night, she was at ease and excited. For being in a truly female-centered space, where the girl was not the only chick in a guy crew, added legitimacy to the craft that has been her bread and butter for years. She was ready for the show to start.
Everyone was. This night promised to set the year off right. The audience was a different mix of QOTR and URL fans, creating an interesting vibe. One fan said that she never had an interest in hearing guys rap because “who wants to see a bunch of “n*ggas” going back and forth like women?” On the flip, there were men in the audience who did not want to see women on the stage, believing that women can’t stand in front of men with bars that could hit with significant power and strength.
The focus on both of these positions were the two spotlight battles between Chess & Tori Doe and Rum Nitty & O’fficial.
But before that… The women battled.
SURPRISED BATTLE: ROBIN RHYMES VS. FIRST LADY FLAMES
There is a thing in female battle rap where if you mention that someone is having sex with someone or is a whore, that those bars will land harder… and for the casual fan who is interested in shock value lyrism… that is it… that is true… that is strategy… that is fire…
But when that sort of content is not as powerful as the stuff someone with the intention set on barring you to death comes up and breaks loose… you wound up getting 3-0 in your hometown. This was the case between FLL and RR. Flames was fire and performed pretty good on the stage, but was not as creative as Robin Rhymes.
From Robin’s superhero scheme to her Robin Thicke “Lost Without You” flip to her revelation that she spanks RBE’s frontman and owner ARP in bed, she outperformed and kinda outbarred the Queen of Virginia battle rap producing a 3-0 that would have been a 2-1, had Flames not choked in the 3rd.
DEISEL VS. CHEDDAR
The first scheduled battle was between Deisel and Cheddar. During the face-off the night before, Deisel sported her stripes in the game like the vet that she is. Cheddar promised that she would rip those stripes off… adding that she (Deisel) was not in the best female rapper out of Virginia… But with her roots in Virginia in tack, Deisel appeared to be super comfortable. Outbarring Cheddar round after round. She was dominant. She was aggressive. She had crowd participation and her bars were simply superior to the pint-size Cheddar, who already diminutive in size, seemed to get smaller and smaller as the battle progressed. Deisel amassed the stage, teaching a valuable letter that the male veteran rappers at URL have been trying to teach the new class over there: “Stop rushing the bake. Get ready before you try and pop out.”
CASEY JAY VS. MS. MURK
While Deisel was prepared to teach Cheddar that lesson, Ms. Murk (a vet in her own right) was not… at least not in this battle against the formidable opponent Casey Jay (aka Kylie Penner).
Murk choked almost in every round… barely completing the 2nd and not even getting one line out in the third. The third might have been from sheer moral deduction and embarrassment as Lady Luck who was the host uttered on the mic something like “Be quiet… I want to get her off the stage.” Unfortunate… particularly since her poor performance robbed Casey of a battle that folk would want to re-watch and talk about. This is important to note because Murk can really bar-tango. She owed Casey a better and more prepared performance. This is not just sport, but this is a business where the artists’ stocks go up and down based on how they show up.
Casey did not rob Murk but paid that girl every single dollar’s worth of the purse she earned on that bill. She was barking. Flashing those pretty light eyes with what would seem to appear to any opponent a possessed sense of terror when she rapped. She had performance, confidently dancing on the stage like an MMA warrior. She also had a secret weapon, her momma who jumped in letting everyone know she is a real Texas mom and will have her baby’s back. But that was just gravy to this goose that CJ had already cooked. This was clearly the BODY of the night as the crowd started chanting 3-0. Casey J, you are fire.
TORI DOE VS. CHESS
But… the win was not the win that he wanted nor the loss that Tori Doe deserved.
The mirror styled match began with passion and the unorthodox style that has made the two of them anomalies in the culture. But Tori’s mic was messing up from the time they started to the very last time she spat one of her intricately constructed lines. She had that Harlem magic in her pocket, that swag that has millions of Doe-nation followers salivating at her whim. She was clever with some of the things she said like the “why you didn’t wash the dishes?” jawn or the chess scheme about his queen having to protect him and him being a pawn. But the mics, despite all of the off-stage male battle rappers suggesting how to position the mic and even Chess exchanging mics with her to assist, just were static-y and low. With her talk-to-you style, it did not have the impact that a well-tuned mic might have. This f*cked up a could have been a classic as a frustrated Tori gave up almost every round when her concern with the mic disturbance started to overwhelm her and it interfered with fans’ ability to hear what she wrote against the Cave Gang lieutenant, Chess.
Now Chess, to be clear, won. And his win was by no means by default. He is a brilliant emcee, taking the time to find ways to do name flips that were original. Taking his opponent seriously and creating an experience for the audience that was comical at times, thought provocative at other times and at all times mesmerizing. He by far is one of the most interesting wordsmiths that rap music has seen in a while. He embodies the legacy of vintage and almost scientific wordplay like the masters WuTang and Keith Murray, while still showing up fresh and current like J. Cole and K-Dot.
In his battle against Tori, he treated her like an opponent worthy enough for him to sit still and write for. While it is up for debate about how worthy she is, it is unfortunate that we will never fully know because of the huge disadvantage she had with her mic situation. If Casey had the body of the night, this was the heartbreak of it.
RUM NITTY VS. O’FFICIAL
They kinda thought that Rum Nitty was coming in to beat up on O’fficial. But unlike any other female emcee, the culture has ever seen, this Louisianna belle is not here for none of those shenanigans. This was another one of those battles that you want to watch again on cam, because in the building depending on what you like, the two were 1-1 going into the third and both were not as amazing in the third as they were in the first two.
Nitty, The Source‘s 2017 Unsigned Hype inductee, had name flips on O’fficial that no one has ever heard before. But it was not just that… he tried to throw that woman around lyrically like a rag doll with punches and dexterous wordplay. But… O’fficial moves like a brawler and a woman that drinks in bars. She likes to fight. She likes to get rough. She is like a voodoo possessed rag doll inspirited with the brute of Nao Shango or the Lao Petro focused on bringing verbal devastation to her opponent.
Together, they masterfully executed and painting the stage red with skill, passion, and performance, making it the “Battle of the Night!”
MURDA AVE. VS MAFIA
This was the most debatable and preference-driven battle of the card.
There is a chemistry that Ms. Fit and Cortez have that is incomparable. The way the Fit wove not just her rhymes but her agile and swift body through and around Cortez was harmoniously symphonic. And if you like two-on-twos where the pair play off each other, bounce back and forth in lyrical choreography, this was the squad for you. This also was a way for you to see the difference in how the two rap. Ms. Fit is full-out AG, and this is not about her sexuality: Aggressive. Agile. Agonic. Cortez talks to people with a more direct, “let me explain to you” what this is kind of way. They are the rare combination of street smarts and book smarts, crafting bars that fight like alley cats and stray dogs.
On the flip, Coffee Brown and Geechi Gotti as a team had that shadow methodology going. Letting the other complete a thought, with a cosign every now and again, before the other steps in with their respective punch or blow. Geechi, as stated in previous reviews, moves like a shark. He circles his opponent and bites with shift scissor-toothed verses that slowly bleeds whomever he goes against. At least that is the intention… a practice that has allowed him to be the number one or two top emcee in the game for the last couple of years. Coffee on the other side is no shark. She is a piranha, swarming around her victim and trying to tear them apart disastrously. Together, they are like bullies on the stage. They are to be feared without a doubt.
They don’t care (much to the enjoyment of those watching!).
The battle was not as exciting as some of the other battles, but both duos came to the table with an excellent display of workmanship and sportsmanship. Geechi is the most unlikely to be freestyling. Still, he shows us that he can do more than just punch but come off the head pretty easily. He is like the guy in class that you swear is just the hood dude in class itching to get out at 2:15 pm, so he is not paying attention, but actually is and walks out the semester with an “A” in chemistry… He is not the best because it sounds good and he is a crip, talking crip shit. He is the best right now because he is working on the art. Ms. Fit is funny and up in your face, and her slick talk keeps her relevant. Cortez at least in this battle, played the back more, creating a performance to showcase his little sis. He also understood what this battle meant to his legacy and not just hers and so he did not come to play. Coffee came to the ring with something to prove… And she did. Coffee is not just Geechi’s hype girl with the thick thighs, the ratchet IG and the f-cked up attitude. As an artist, she is primed to sit at the table with some of the best of them… she no longer should be excluded from a female mid-to-top tier conversation… #SpeedingtoTheFrontofTheClass
40 B.A.R.R.S. vs. MS. HUSTLE
If Rum and O’fficial was the battle of the night, this was a close second.
Two women, grown-women, epitomized what female battle rap should look like, sound like and embody. Both had performance, though displayed in very different ways. Hustle was bombastic and she raps like with edge, comfortability and like a seasoned professional. She had jokes. She violated with her slick-mouth and above all of that she just knows what she is doing. 40 is a rapper’s rapper. She is complicated and well-paced. While many of the girls change into something else (it has been referenced that Casey J and even O’fficial became almost possessed with their rhyme-performance genius), she remains who she is: a queen… a lady…
Rumors (and truths) aside, 40’s biggest problem is that she is too busy being preoccupied with life to fully concentrate on the “royalty” preset before her in battle rap. Tonight she was fully present on the stage that mattered and in a squeaker, possibly edged out the URL Queen Bee.
While Hustler was in her bag, even bringing in a cameo from E-Hart (who partnered with 40 in the now infamous Summer Impact card where she choked and forfeited the contest), B.A.R.R.S. was a phoenix rising from the ashes to a new level of triumph. No gas. Just bars. And ultimately, the best way to end the night.
Royalty lived up to its name and was a great introduction for millions of fans interested in seeing what the women bring to the table.