URL did it again this weekend, with its sold-out NOME 5 event in Manhattan's Irving Plaza generating a ton of buzz and very little controversy. So far, the post-event focus has been squarely on the performances, the outcomes of the battles and the hype that comes with an appearance from Drake.
Let's get right into it. Here are our picks for the standout moments from the weekend.
You could argue that O'fficial had performance of the night, and it’s safe to say that there’s been a significant shift in the best-female-battler talks in the past 24 hours. Although her third was a bit dry, she tore the roof off in the first and much of the second, landing punch after punch after punch.
Her rounds took longer to finish than Jaz’s, simply because the crowd was bugging out after every other bar. It was hard not to with her dropping stuff like: “Pop a GUN? You too scared to pop your cherry!” and “The only way I’d lose is if we went head to head.” Jaz probably stole the third (a “da feet” bar, O'fficial? Really?) but this was a pretty decisive 2-1 for O'fficial, making it the first clear loss for Jaz.
Hollow Becoming Charlie Clips
First, let’s get this out of the way: it’s looking like Hollow 2-1. Clips had a great third round, but the consensus seems to be that it came one round too late, though there are still outliers siding with him. For those readers who don't believe us, check the retweets in this informal poll.
RT if Clips beat Hollow.— BattleRapDotCom (@battlerapdotcom) May 11, 2015
RT if Hollow beat Clips.— BattleRapDotCom (@battlerapdotcom) May 11, 2015
That said, Hollow’s first and second rounds were hilarious, and the fact that he took a much more direct and creative approach is not up for debate.
In a bizarrely clever business move, he explained to Clips that he had trademarked his de facto “sike, I lied” slogan, meaning he literally owned the phrase and that Clips would have to pay him to use it. He then showed Clips one of the t-shirts with the catchphrase on it that he'd printed and sold tons of outside the venue before the event.
Hollow also made a disclaimer that his grandmother had been “bitten” by a bee, excusing any poor performance, which was a clear jab at what he sees as Clips’ constant practice of making excuses. He then went into a brilliant routine where he mimicked Clips’ standard four-bar setup structure, getting the crowd to finish the lines and marvel at how easy it is to do. The highlight of that segment was: “You a candy rapper with four bars like a — (crowd:) KIT KAT! (Hollow:) See how easy it is to predict that?”
Charlie Clips vs. Cortez
Clips decided to direct much of his second round toward Cortez, downplaying his stature and generally roasting him. There were murmurs in the crowd wondering why he was battling Hollow's cornermen and not Hollow himself, but many still relished the unprompted torture.
Drake Taking The Stage
“You gotta beat Surf before you see me.” That’s what Drake had to say about the prospect of battling Mook. He took the stage to say a few words shortly after Clips and Hollow’s battle and proved once again that he supports the culture. The crowd loved his suggestion, so it’s not impossible that we’ll see that match-up at some point.
His time on stage was brief (including some boo’s from the crowd at the mere mention of King Of The Dot) but it was good to hear that he might, possibly, maybe, potentially be down to battle someday. Even if it never happens, it still makes mainstream hip-hop news every time he hints at it, which is still doing the scene a service.
DNA & Serius Jones Surpassing Expectations
In a way, this was a battle nobody asked for. Aside from the fact that DNA was deprived of a good shot at the legend class due to his “nutty” E. Ness battle and had been calling Serius out sporadically over the past few months, the match-up made little sense. Still, neither he nor Serius came to lose, and this clash had a surprising amount of power.
DNA came out firing with one of his best rounds in recent memory, and there was little Serius could do to match it. DNA had a fire second round as well, but Serius really started to cook in response, feeding off the energy of the increasingly excited crowd. The third was close, but most people gave the battle to DNA 2-1. Many of the highlights of this battle were freestyles, including DNA’s “You fucking up a bad rhyme, talking while I’m rapping … You remember what happened last time!”
Tsu Surf vs. Tay Roc Actually Finishing
With URL's history of events getting shut down prematurely, there was a sense of collective dread in the room when a voice came over the PA after the first round of the battle saying: "10 minutes." Smack tried to rush things along, and the urgency seemed to affect both emcees, who barreled through their content. By no means was this a bad battle, but we don't recall there being any defining "moments" in it, so we'll save our thoughts on it for a full review once the official footage drops.
Shotgun Suge vs. Hitman Holla at SM5?
To be clear: this battle was not officially confirmed by Smack. However, both emcees made it obvious that they were about it, and they got in each other’s faces on stage to further the hype. Hitman specifically asked the crowd if they wanted to see it go down at "Summer Madness 5," and the response was overwhelmingly affirmative. Interestingly, the audience seemed much more excited at that moment than later when Clips, after asserting that he had just beaten Hollow, tossed out the idea of battling Lux or Mook.
Melly Mel Appearing as 106-era Lux
We all know Melly can do a mean Lux impression, and he proved his skill once again. After Clips and Hollow battled and Clips brought up battling Lux, Melly came out of nowhere dressed as an early-2000s Lux (complete with 106 & Park chain and hoodie) and started rapping into a handheld mic at him. It was hard to actually understand what he was saying due to the exaggerated Beloved voice and the way he was bouncing around, but the impersonation was still spot-on, and the crowd loved the homage.
(P.S. if there are IG photos/clips of this anywhere, post a link in the comments section and we'll add it to the article.)
After his battle with Mr. Wavy, K-Shine’s too-fast flow was heavily criticized. He wasn’t actually doing double-time or anything in that battle, just rapping really fast, and he was genuinely hard to understand. This time though, he slowed down and made every word count with somewhat devastating results for Aye Verb.
Most called this a 3-0 for Shine, or at least “2-0” because the crowd was pretty rowdy and disruptive by Round 3. Either way, it was ugly for Verb (so much so that he's humbly admitted defeat online) and a great return to form for Shine, who needed it after his debatable loss to Wavy at "Rookies vs. Vets."
Queenzflip vs. The Crowd
Flip has become one of the regulars in the cast of characters on battle rap stages lately, and the seemingly endless supply of insults he tossed at the crowd between battles helped keep the energy high during the lull.
After all the doubts and concerns that URL’s first pay-per-view would be a disaster, the stream was, reportedly, extremely smooth. The inevitable bootlegging couldn’t be entirely avoided of course, but the important thing is that the stream was consistent and that the audio and visual quality were top notch. While so many events — Total Slaughter comes to mind — have been marred by faulty streams, URL had no such troubles, which means that it may be something they’re willing to continue for future events.
Ty Law vs. B Magic
This battle, which went down the next day at legendary battle rap venue Black Star Video in Harlem, may have been the best from the whole weekend. Ty Law and B Magic are two of the finest punchers in the game, and neither came to play here.
Ty Law silenced his critics in the first, upping his aggression from the jump and lighting the building on fire with his signature writing style of back-to-back-to-back punches. (Also of note, it was so hot in the packed venue that if a fire had actually broken out no one would've noticed. Expect to see people sweating heavily in the footage.) In the rare moments that one of Ty's lines didn't land, it was more likely to have gone over heads than to have actually been wack. He slowed down a bit in the third, repeating a few lines to find his spot again, but it never felt anything close to a choke.
Magic's first was strong enough to keep up despite a couple of miniature slips, but he turned it up in the second and finished strong in the third, ending the battle with momentum on his side.
The "Bars" trend is battle rap has been around long enough that when done wrong the style can sound stepped-on and stale, but this match-up showed how impressive it can be when done to perfection, in a way reminiscent of Magic's clash with Rum Nitty last year.
Consensus in the building was that this was a classic (yes, an actual one) and there's a good chance we'll see it near the top of "Best Of 2015" lists. With the momentum URL has going for it now though, there could be lots more competition by the end of the year.
Any questions about the event? Let us know in the comments below.