Looking back on 2016, it could be seen as the year when the status and notoriety of the top tier of battle rap began its fall. Throughout the year, across many platforms, top tier battlers submitted lackluster performances and, as a whole, were outdone by hungrier up and coming battlers eager to stake their claim.
The resurgence of the so-called mid tier battlers, along with the rise of new talent, has resulted in classic battles such as Ave versus Rum Nitty, while top tier battles haven't been able to quite live up to expectations.
On January 22, at U Dubb's "High Stakes 2" mega-event, Hitman Holla and Shotgun Suge have a chance to reverse the trend and provide fans with the top tier clash they have been starving for.
Appropriately, the stakes for a battle haven't been this high since Loaded Lux took on Hollow Da Don at U Dubb's inaugural "High Stakes" to put on 2014's battle of the year. To this day, Beloved vs. Da Dinininon is regarded as one of the best battles of all time because it's a slugfest between two top tier talents who gave 100% of themselves to both the battle and the promotion.
Years later, we finally have one of the last true grudge matches between Suge and Hitman. The match-up has been in the making for years now, with attempts to make it happen on URL and GO-Rilla Warfare both falling through.
We know the battle is going to be electrifying, but we don't know what's going to happen when these titans finally clash, the pride of their cities on their backs.
I'm here to help.
Even though the battle hasn't even started, in the eyes of many fans the first round of this battle is Hitman's to lose. His first rounds are the stuff of legend, and with his return from a long absence from the major leagues, you can bet Hitman will have plenty to say and plenty to remix in the first.
The real intrigue will come from how Suge approaches the first, and I'm not so sure that Suge won't be asking "What his life like?" from the jump. More than that, we might get some, "While you were Wild 'n Out with the Cannon ... I was ..." bars, and no matter how predictable they may be, they're still guaranteed to hit hard.
The smart play for Suge here will be to prove that Hitman went Hollywood. Suge should take every chance to win over the crowd by stripping Hitman of his credibility, bringing up his high pay demands and flashy social media posts.
Hitman though, should know this is coming, and I predict his second round will be his best. Hitman has been tweeting fans, asking them which version they want to see, and the overwhelming response from fans is that they want that "Yett Yett, Talk to umm" Hitman.
I'm predicting that Hitman will bring one of his stories, reminiscent to the Arsonal/O Red stories where he put aside the complicated metaphors and wordplay to set up some old school haymakers, which should be enough to steal the second round.
Not to be counted out, I have Suge winning the third round. Hitman has a track record of tailing off after his first two rounds, while Suge has proven great at leaving lasting impressions with solid round closers.
Which means that this battle will come down to the first round.
It will be close, it will be hard fought, and it should be a reminder of the type of classic battle that can come from two of the most popular emcee's in the sport, who are hungry to prove that they are better than the other.
However, Hitman's long-awaited return, paired with his ability to deliver moments that can stand the test of time will prove to be too much for Suge.
Hitman Holla 2-1.
Agree? Disagree? Let us know in the comment section below.