The culture anxiously anticipated this battle between two of the culture’s most dynamic Hip-Hop producers: RZA and DJ Premier. One responsible for interjecting blue notes and jazz samples into the ruggedly rough terrain of urban music. The other… for the xenomorphic presentation of emceeing with arguably the most influential group in rap music. Either way: Hip-Hop wins.
It was RZA’s first time on the social media platform and struggled to get his bearings using the technology. It was one of the few moments, the public culture ever saw The Abbott not in total control. Operative word… moments. After he got his volume together and was able to submit a love offering from sacred catalog, magic emerged.
And Premier, as the elder brother statesman, contributed mightily to this magic.
As the two badminton-ed songs from the late 80s to the modern era, fans were able to see their genius unfold. After a while, no one cared who won the contest. They embraced the move towards fraternity and good sportsmanship, something often lost in this current era of competitive sport.
What they were able to do between tracks, was give those watching, an oral history of how everyone came up in the ranks together. They talked about competition, but from a framework of celebration and a pursuit of personal excellence that push the needle towards professional relevance.
So important was this particular battle, that almost anyone that you could think of was on the thread. So many were the galaxy of Hip-Hop luminaries, it would be impossible to name and not leave someone off: Black Thought, Fat Joe, Wu-Tang members, NORE, GURU’s son, Crazy Legs, Charlamagne tha God, Old Man Ebro, Freeway, Havoc, Timbaland, Swizz, Alicia Keys and more.
Premier dug in the vaults and played joints from JAY-Z, M.O.P., Mos Def, Big L, KRS1, Das EFX, Group Home, D’Angelo, Nas, Biggie, Jeru the Damaga, his own Wu offering, and Royce Da 5’9. Of course, he banged out some classic Gang Starr hits. He also played an unreleased Scarface song.
RZA’s arsenal was not that shabby either. Those mostly concentrated to his own group, all 50,000 of them, he did give his exclusive Shaolin blessing to a select cluster of artists outside the circle. He played a few joints from ODB, Raekwon, Ghostface Killah, Method Man (including his joint with Mary), Nas, Biggie, Cappadona, GZA, Joey Badass (New Joint) and a few classic Wu-Tang Clan jams.
Premier and RZA never lost sight of what this all was about, playing socially significant songs. Premier shouted out those who were struggling with the COVID-19 like Scarface and Fred da Godson. He also gave his condolences to DJ Lance out of Brooklyn who lost his life to the virus on Wednesday, April 8th. Lance’s father died from the virus, Friday, April 10th and sister rushed to the hospital with complications shortly after.