Last Sunday (Aug. 30) saw, after 15 years and 780 consecutive weeks, the final installment of legendary New York City hip-hop open mic "End of the Weak" at Manhattan’s Pyramid Club. Along with being the stage that saw battle vets like Immortal Technique, C Rayz Walz and Poison Pen further their careers and build their fanbases, it also launched rap battle legends like Iron Solomon. This strong pedigree was already established for about a decade when one of EOW’s finest took the hallowed halls mainstream on BET 106 and Park’s Freestyle Friday with the two-year run of Kay M.
The legacy of Freestyle Friday is an interesting one, and opinions of it tend to vary by its incarnations. The early years saw the ascension of Jin and Postaboy, the later years saw much deserved recognition of Voss and Charron, but in the middle post-8 Mile, the network’s interest in freestyle rap battling seemed to peter in and out. It was a transitional period that Jersey native Kay M was a big part of carrying into the next decade.
While longtime battle fans were familiar with Kay M through early American division JumpOff battles and EOW’s MC Challenge events (an extensive four-round competition meant to expand then-standard rap battle traditions), he had yet to venture into the growing national battle rap scene. Staying true to his roots, when BET asked him to name his influence, he paid EOW homage by citing “any MC who wants to bring an End to the Weak.”
While Kay was first brought on as something of a teaser in late 2007 with whispers for relaunching a new format for Freestyle Fridays, his success in connecting with the audience saw him have a run the following year that put him in the Hall of Fame. Given the popularity of this new Freestyle Friday incarnation, BET invited all the champions (and the most popular challengers) back for one Grand Championship in 2009. The finals saw Kay M take on R.A.P. Phenomenal in an interesting cross-section where the written-freestyle-written battle styles were colliding, with the spontaneous punchlines of Kay M coming out on top.
Every Thursday, BattleRap.com posts a classic battle that you should know about, or at least be reminded of occasionally. See them all here.