Smack/URL has kicked off its Summer Madness 4 weekend with two highly successful events already and I, Battle Rap Journalist Michael Hughes, was on the scene soaking up all of the ground-shattering bars from both the Proving Grounds and The Warm Up events.
Friday, September 26th Smack/URL kicked off the SM4 Weekend with a stellar showing of new rising talent to add to the current PG class. Many artists rose to the occasion and put forth great performances that will only raise their stock and fanbase in the near future. Out of all of the battlers on the card however, Norbes really struck gold with Detroit spitter GJonaj. GJonaj's bars, delivery, and overall performance were the perfect combination of what a true lyrical beast consists of, and fans will come to see that in the near future.
"But Christ-"...never mind, we'll save that for when the battle drops, but safe to say, GJonaj's bar is easily a candidate for "Bar of the Year." Other standouts from the SM4 PG card came from the likes of Gutta, Tink The Demon, and Presidential Dubz among others, along with a very entertaining back-and-forth clash between rising Queens battler Jimz vs. Bad News. That battle in particular was filled with some real tension that only made their bars hit even harder, and the battle that much more entertaining. The 2015 PG's roster is looking promising. Now, onto The Warm Up.
This pre-Summer Madness 4 Warm Up event picked up right where the PG battles left off. The first battle of the night was a closely contested clash between Danja Zone vs. KG the Poet. Both are UFF veterans who put up a good fight against the other's pen game. Following that match was another UFF clash between Season 2 rappers Ah Di Boom vs. HA Double.
This match was one of the best of the night in terms of each opponent matching the other round-after-round making it a true toss up in the eyes of the fans. Ah Di Boom put forth a very strong performance and utilized some well-crafted comedic lines mixed in with his bars. Ah Di even mentioned my VladTV interview with Norbes discussing the current PG cuts, at one point during the battle. HA played on Boom's spelling bars and how he believes that he often reaches and misspells his words as a very effective angle as well. It could be judged either way.
Next up was probably the best performance of the night from Uno Lavoz in his battle vs. Young X. While X did gain a fair amount of crowd reaction, his bars were not hitting too hard live in the building, so he struggled to maintain the attention from the fans throughout the three rounds. His battle vs. Brizz Rawsteen was definitely a better performance from him. Uno on the other hand, put forth the absolute best performance of his career.
From the very first round, everything was working in his favor. From hard-hitting haymaker punches, to general stage charisma, rebuttals, performance creativity, and perfectly placed comical bars, Uno had control of the battle from start to finish. If you're able to Shmoney Dance on stage and do it effectively, you've already got the victory in the bag. He did suffer from a third round choke, however, he recovered nicely and finished off strong. Everyone in attendance was utterly shocked by how good Uno Lavoz was at this event, which also left many fans scratching their heads wondering if he'll be featured on a big stage battle in the near future.
Two of the most well-respected PG battlers from the Cakes Up and Faculty crew, Steamz vs. Prez Mafia, took the stage next. This was another closely contested match that gained plenty of roaring cheers from the onlooking fans. The deciding factor, however, may have come in the third round when Prez noticeably had trouble searching for the words for his third verse which lead to him cutting off his round very short. I was able to speak to him after the battle and he believes that his first two rounds were far more effective than Steamz and therefore he was able to solidify a 2-1 victory despite his third round mishap. That of course, will be up to the fans to decide.
Shotgun Suge vs. Charron, a truly highly anticipated battle that's been years in the making finally went down next, and the battle managed to surpass the expectations that fans had leading up to it. Suge came fully prepared and polished in this battle. Unlike his past issues with memorizing his bars, Suge got out his entire three rounds cleanly with loads of truly gritty bars that anyone who watches him can truly feel, even if you aren't from that background. From pocket checks, commanding vocal projection, and very strong bars, Shotgun Suge certainly cooked up some heat in this battle, but so did Charron.
Coming out of KOTD, many people doubted that Charron would be able to make a successful transition to the Smack/URL audience, but with the performance he gave them, it's safe to say that Smack/URL fans have officially welcomed Charron to the league with open arms. From the very first round Charron captured the crowd's attention with top-notch rebuttals. Charron is by far, one of the best freestylers in Battle Rap.
His freestyles were so effective, that he went straight off the top of his head for a large portion of his third round and everything he said was incredibly effective and got tons of crowd reaction. Despite how flawlessly he executed that third round freestyle, Charron honestly believes that Suge won the third round, but won the battle 2-1 clearly. While it seemed as though many people in the crowd felt as though Charron clearly won, there were other people that I overheard awarding Suge with the victory, so in the end, this one will come down to a style preference once the footage drops. Charron really showed why he is a truly well-rounded battler who won't ever be an easy battle for anyone.
Lastly, was a Harlem vs. Harlem clash between Dot Mobb's K-Shine vs. Head I.C.E. Both had very solid performances and most likely walked away from the battle feeling as though they won. In terms of the general uniqueness in which the bars were crafted and spit, I.C.E.'s rounds stood out a bit more, however, it's definitely going to be looked at as debatable. One issue with this battle was that the rounds were timed strictly to 2 minutes, which made them either rush through their material or not get to finish all of their bars. It appeared as though both Shine and I.C.E. weren't too fond of the short time limit, but the 2 minutes must have been agreed upon prior to the battle between both parties, otherwise Smack wouldn't have timed such a great match.
All-in-all, The Warm Up was a very successful event for Smack/URL to truly set the tone for how epic Summer Madness 4 will be. The only battle that didn't take place for one reason or another was Mr. Wavy vs. QP, but all of the other battles were thoroughly entertaining. Who knows, maybe on Summer Madness 5, Battle Rap fans will get to see some of these combatants featured on the main stage. Now it's time for the official Summer Madness event to close out the show in spectacular fashion.
You can check out many pictures that I collected from The Warm Up, above. Stay tuned for loads of great interviews dropping in the near future from this event. Let the Madness continue.