While the street battle format was starting to bubble, it took until 2006 and the explosion of YouTube to really begin solidifying itself as the preferred way rap battles were held. One year prior, there were just as many freestyle on-beat battles as there were alternatives, and at the time the biggest tournament of them all was Scribble Jam.
More than just a rap battle event, Cincinnati's annual Scribble Jam showcased the best in indieground graffiti, hip-hop, breakdancing, turntablism, beatboxing and more. The event, named after the magazine that birthed it, had been growing year-by-year and seen previous winners such as Sage Francis, Mac Lethal and Eyedea go on to become some of the most incredibly successful names in independent hip-hop.
2005 was perhaps not only the finest full Scribble Jam event (it included Big Daddy Kane, considered by many as the best live act in hip-hop history) but the full battle tournament was as good as the battles ever got. Freestyle consistency from the likes of Iron Solomon, Presence, iLLspokiNN, Zeale32, Seez Mics etc. as well as a crowd hungry for battle rap action made for the best freestyle tournament the event ever held.
The night’s best battle was the semi-final match-up that pitted Australian emcee Justice facing off against The Saurus. While many were expecting the first ever meeting of The Saurus and Iron Solomon in the finals, Justice’s outstanding rebuttal game, as well as his opponent’s, were an absolute display of emcee mastery. Both encapsulated everything that made freestyle battling have such a rabid cult following. While The Saurus would go on to win Scribble Jam the following year, as well as the final year, even in a losing effort his showdown with Justice may be his finest hour at the event. It’s an absolute masterpiece.
Every Thursday, BattleRap.com posts a classic battle that you should know about, or at least be reminded of occasionally. See them all here.