This past Saturday (March 26), URL held its first ever 2-on-2 event, "Double Impact." Aside from some timing issues that cut the last battle short, and mid-match scuffles that ended the headliner less than halfway through, the event was in many ways a success. Wrangling 20 battlers for one card in the fist place is hard enough, and everyone was present and accounted for.
Energy is a necessary ingredient for all classics — the chemistry has to be right between both emcees (and often the crowd) for the battle to stick. So it comes as no surprise that it's even more difficult to achieve with doubles matches. There needs to be the right fusion between both sets of teammates, as well as compatible chemistry with their opponents. This at least partially explains why "Double Impact" yielded no bona fide classics. Still, the atmosphere of the event was relatively light with great sportsmanship in the majority of the battles, and it was obvious that most of the teams had a great time trying new things out with lower-than-usual stakes.
Given that there were only five battles on the card and that something notable happened in all of them, we'll just break them down one by one in the order they happened.
Chess & Steams vs. Marvwon & Quest MCody
To the disgust of many longterm fans, Marv and Quest were actually the underdogs going into this battle in terms of popular opinion. To quote Marv, they actually felt like they were "already down a round." Thankfully, they were able to quickly remind everyone why they're legends in this 2-on-2 shit with performance of the night.
Chess and Steams are great as a team, and this stumble-free performance definitely improved on their last one. Their compatibility was strong, their ridiculously animated tag-team punches hit hard, and they even pushed themselves with some jokes and real-talk angles. Plus, it was a trip to see Chess all up in Marv's face. It just wasn't enough, though, because Marv and Quest managed to strike a crazily precise balance between jokes, bars, and aggression in every round, and their chemistry was untouchable.
Though this display was by no means career-ending (or even career-altering) for Chess or Steams, it will undoubtedly play well for Marv and Quest being called back to URL, and it makes you wonder why it's taken this long.
Chilla Jones & B-Magic vs. T-Top & Brizz Rawsteen
It wasn't a bad battle by any means, but this is a prototypical example of mismatched energy in a 2-on-2. Chilla and Magic started out quite strong, and really all of their material was impressive, but it just didn't come close to the show T-Top and Brizz put on in the building.
To be fair, there was clear potential in Chilla and Magic's approach, particularly toward the beginning of the battle. Magic would rattle off a few direct, already fire punches, and then Chilla would break down the same pattern with homophones that changed the meaning while adding more double entendres. They also borrowed from each other's styles (Magic's punches and Chilla's schemes), at one point even "transforming" into each other. It was a pretty clean performance, and it's hard to put your finger on what would have made this ambitious interplay hit just right, but it was obvious why Top and Brizz were able to rock the room.
It's not exactly shocking that grimey, aggressive content might overshadow more bar-heavy material in a 2-on-2, but Top and Brizz showed they truly have it down. For one thing, they were LOUD and extremely animated, but they threw in just enough surprisingly personal bars to keep things fresh.
Being friends in real life for years definitely doesn't hurt in terms of chemistry, and Top and Brizz easily proved they're a viable team.
Aye Verb & Yung Ill vs. Math Hoffa & Cortez
This was a debatable battle that boasted some fantastic moments, but it somewhat fell victim to the phenomenon of something "not being quite right" that seems to much more easily affect 2-on-2s. For one thing, it was the URL return of Math Hoffa, and mannnnnn he snapped.
For another, Yung Ill made his return in gloriously self-deprecating fashion by showing up looking like Tyrone Biggums, lips covered in white powder, and he snapped too.
Those two emcees were the clear MVPs of the battle. Why wasn't this a classic? Well, it's possible that Verb and Ill rapping alone in Rounds 1 and 2 respectively might have had something to do with it.
Thankfully, St. Louis took a more traditional approach in Round 3 and traded lines through some fire, mostly personal material. They were able to take this round in the eyes of most fans, partially because of what seemed to be a botched gimmick from NYB in Round 3. Math and Cor were a few seconds into a cinematic scene-setting exercise just like what they did versus NWX when they abruptly abandoned that approach and proceeded through a regular third. If that was the gimmick, it didn't hit.
Still, most fans gave this to NYB 2-1 due to Verb and Ill's odd approach to the first two rounds and the moments where Math fully snapped, seeming to take out all his battle rap frustrations on his opponents while Cor occasionally interjected. Close battle that could be nice on camera.
Tsu Surf & Tay Roc vs. DNA & K-Shine
Twizz is not exaggerating when he says Gun Titles (Surf and Roc) is a scary thing.
Surf and roc is a scary thing...one of the best performances I've ever recorded or seen live— RESPECTTHESHOOTER (@ThisIsTwiZz) March 27, 2016
It's a goddamn shame this battle fell apart, because URL's arguably two biggest stars were losing their minds up there. Surf and Roc traded off seamlessly while constantly building momentum, and every bar had a sense of urgency that made it feel like an event in and of itself when either of them delivered the punch. "Big T's fingers after lunch, do him greasy. Before the shot? Hanes. After the shot? Yeezy! Before the cut? Shumpert. After the cut? BEASLEY!" Jesus Christ.
Anyway, yes, there were a couple of scuffles — not fights, scuffles — between Tay Roc and K-Shine. The first occurred in Gun Titles' first round when Roc got close to Shine during a bar and Shine wasn't having it. Beasley and many others on stage got between the two teams and their entourages before anything escalated beyond shouting and some pushing.
The next was during NWX's second round, when Shine accused Roc of crew hopping. Roc said something denying it, Shine disagreed, Roc, uh, invited Shine to his genitals, and Shine came toward him fists up. Again they were quick to be separated and the rest of the battle was called off.
Although NWX had some shit, after seeing Shine's behavior and Surf and Roc's performances, most fans gave the battle to Gun Titles by default.
Big T & Th3 Saga vs. Charlie Clips & John John Da Don
The jury is still out in terms of calling a winner on this one, as Big T and Saga were forced to spit their third round outside, around the corner from the venue that had been cleared to make way for a Grateful Dead tribute concert. Still, it was a fun and competitive back-and-forth, featuring surprisingly strong coordination and a LOT of "you jerk off too much, Th3 Saga" bars from Clips and John John and some entertaining self-effacing concepts from the undeniably different Big T and Saga.
This went down shortly after the issues with the headline battle, so the energy in the room was understandably compromised. Much of the crowd just seemed relieved to laugh, and you have to salute these emcees for soldiering through and each delivering strong performances.
In terms of chemistry, Clips and JJDD probably had NWX beat, but NWX had plenty of bars that will look better on camera, plus a standout moment from Big T where Saga stood back and allowed him to spaz in vintage fashion.
The battle finished up outside in front of a small crowd, and, if history repeats itself, should look great.
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