Day 1 of URL's "A Perfect Day To Die" may have had its ups and downs, but Sunday's Proving Grounds event at Brooklyn's Black Bear was about as perfect as a day of battle rap can get. The card featured a slew of up-and-coming talent and was low-key one of the more exciting lineups URL had put together all year.
In addition to the PG tryouts, there were three one-off battles, all with their own (incredibly different) merits.
Bonnie Godiva vs. Myverse
Even with the long lead-up, this battle was totally worth it. It was a certified classic, probably one of the best female battles of all time, and one of the battles of the year. Although you’d have thought they were best friends right after the battle, Bonnie Godiva and MyVerse gave the impression that they genuinely hated each other with how tense and competitive this clash was. They were trying to take each other’s heads off, and it was refreshing to hear so many bars that couldn’t be used on anyone else.
Bonnie went first and delivered a rock-solid, mostly personal round. The crazy thing is that, even though Bonnie got plenty of reaction in Round 1, that was the driest part of the battle by a long shot. MyVerse began her first by asking, “WHAT UP, BITCH?” directly in Bonnie’s face, thus setting the tone for the rest of the battle. Though unknown to many in attendance, MyVerse shut the place down in her first round and showed extreme versatility with jokes, wordplay, and very personal personals.
Bonnie was mostly personal in Round 2 as well, but she was smart to try to out-bar Myverse. In Round 2, it definitely worked, and the crowd stopped her to lose its shit approximately every bar. Of note, she had one of the best (probably the best) X-Men schemes of all time. MyVerse was great in Round 2 for many of the same reasons as Round 1, but Bonnie took it. Round 3 was phenomenal on both sides, but MyVerse’s reaction was slightly more uproarious and her material perhaps a bit more impactful. However you score it, it was an absolute classic.
Anubis vs. Saint Mic
This was something of a sleeper, simply because it’s been a while since we’ve seen either Anubis or Saint Mic. You should probably know who Anubis is by now, but for those who don’t know Saint Mic, he's the Nebraska emcee who showed out against Chess last year. Definitely worth your attention. The two met to create what probably would have been a classic if Anubis had done better in Round 3, but their battle nevertheless lived up to its “one-off” rather than “PG” label.
If your memory of Anubis is fuzzy, he’s the dude known for dense lyrics and doing Dragon Ball Z bars entirely too well. He did very little of that cartoony stuff here, and his aggression and real-talk angles were actually the most memorable part of his performance. After a debatable first and probably winning Round 2, things were looking good until his stumbly, “Jersey”-riddled third. There, he gave Saint Mic more than enough room to take the battle 2-1, which he did.
Both of these battlers are in the “he’s different” category of PGs, but Mic woke a lot of people up with this performance. His approach is truly unique, with outstanding “actually rapping” skill, unpredictable punches, and unorthodox flow and delivery. He put all of that to great use in Rounds 1 and 3, and you can definitely expect to see him back soon.
Tone Montana vs. Dre Dennis
The venue let out just after Bonnie vs. MyVerse, so everyone took to the streets to watch the return of Tone Montana vs. recent PG graduate Dre Dennis (remember, this is a “one-off,” not a PG). The battle took place next to a building under construction in Brooklyn with an amazing view of Manhattan in the background. Atmospherically, it was perfect.
Dre started off by donning a cap and gown, just in case his graduation wasn’t 100% apparent. His first was actually his weakest, featuring a couple minor slips, but hey, it was cold outside. Tone, on the other hand, delivered Round 1 in vintage fashion with the stunted delivery we know and love. He clearly took that round.
Round 2 was probably Dre’s best, and he more than made up for his slight stumbles in Round 1. Tone styled again, but his verse was somewhat short, and it wasn’t enough to outdo Dre. In the third, though, Tone went right back to spazzing and took the “outside the building” victory despite Dre’s amazing third round PG step.
The year's final Proving Grounds event had some incredible performances, and an enthusiastic crowd to cheer them on. Here are our picks for the Top 5 guys who showed the most promise.
5. Nunn Nunn
Versus Ave, Nunn Nunn’s performance was memorable mainly for the second round where he recruited his wife to rap alongside him. Here, his third round made the lasting impression, where he seemed to get fed up with the spent crowd (an incredible battle between Ave vs. Mike P had just happened) and fully snapped on Haixian.
His second round was strong as well, even if the crowd failed to notice a lot of it, and he walked away with a fairly clear 2-1 as a result. You’ll notice that Nunn Nunn gets most of his power through occasional haymakers, so you can imagine how dangerous he’ll be when he figures out how to cut down on the time between them.
4. Jerry Wess
Jerry might get some flak for the sheer amount of reaction he got versus Emerson Kennedy, particularly in Round 1, but he still mostly earned it. It’s not as if performing in front of such an explosive crowd is an easy thing to do, and he seemed extremely comfortable from the gate with very polished content. Besides that, his relentless punchlines left the crowd little choice but to go crazy every few seconds. If there’s ever a setting tailor-made for that style, it’s the PGs, and that energy tends to translate to footage as well. Regardless, another URL battle for Jerry is necessary.
3. Emerson Kennedy
Making your debut on the PGs as a West Coast dude against a hometown favorite can’t be easy, but Emerson Kennedy sailed through it. He and Jerry Wess had a debatable battle, but the camera will definitely be kind to him (and possibly filter out some hometown gas).
Go ahead and throw EK in the “he’s different” category as well, and get ready to see unpredictable setup/punch patterns and possibly the most convincing fake choke of all time.
Given how well he did here, it’s almost scary to think how impressive EK could be at a URL West event, against someone like Th3 Saga or B Dot.
2. Mike P
Despite getting edged every round in the building, Mike P still left a winner after managing to create a classic. As he noted in his incredibly well written third round, he’s already made a name for himself by being a PG with bars and a personality. He let his character shine throughout the battle, with poignant critiques of the PG culture and his own expert blend of absurd references and hard punches. I must have heard, “Ave is an animal, but Mike P is a star,” ten times that day.
If you’ve seen his Nunn Nunn battle, you know Ave is a killer. Now, a lot more people know. Forget next up. After this performance versus Mike P, Ave is here. He’s a huge problem with the punchlines, and his first round had vets clamoring to the front of the room for a better look. He edged every round in the building, and it’s hard to imagine what it would have taken to beat his punch-every-bar approach.
The consensus after the battle seemed to be that another PG for Ave would be an absurd notion and that he should undoubtedly be bumped to the main stage. When the footage drops (rumored to be URL's esteemed Christmas release), you’ll probably find it hard to disagree. Maybe I’m high on PG fumes, but it seems like nothing short of B-Magic-caliber punches can compete with this dude.
We'll have interviews from the event up on YouTube soon, but for now have a look at Vada Fly's video recap:
Photos by Smart Alix and Chris Mitchell for BattleRap.com.
Were you there? Let us know who your standouts were.