Last Sunday (September 10) URL held the sixth iteration of their biggest event of the year, Summer Madness, that was headlined by a Hollow Da Don vs. Tay Roc main event which more than lived up to all of the incredible hype leading up to it. Far from being a one battle event though, several other emcees put on fire performances that will no doubt elevate their stocks. Conversely, for some of the battlers, this is a night they'll want to forget, as they were on the receiving side of some rather clear losses. Here are our picks for some of the highlights (and lowlights) of the night.
Battle Of The Night: Hollow Da Don vs. Tay Roc
The article wouldn't even look right if this battle wasn't sitting proudly at the top, and thankfully reality conformed to our expectations. The beauty of it is that there's no need for the hardcore fans on either side to change their narratives: Hollow is still arguably the GOAT, and Roc's run on URL is unparalleled (in fact, it's probably time to start putting him in that all-time greats conversation as well). While fans could simply live in harmony and recognize this as the debatable clash it was, that's not how battle rap works, and that's for the best. The battle will be fiercely debated forever, likely propelling its views beyond what they ever would have been for a one-sided display.
So do you prefer reliable pacing with several massive haymakers or a more dynamic approach? That's essentially what this comes down to, with Roc staying predictably consistent with a few insta-viral moments and Hollow reaching into dozens of different bags throughout the battle, sometimes to mixed reaction and sometimes with the entire room behind him. Above all, the clash was exciting, starting off with a razor-close first round. Hollow was all over the place from the start, but not necessarily in a bad way, and his frenetic energy will be enough to edge him that round for some fans. Roc didn't truly shine until Round 2, but man, did he shine. It's extremely rare for Roc to lose the second, and this will show you why; his "seatbelt" haymaker was an instant hit both in the building and online. By Round 3 though, Hollow started to pull away, becoming one of the first battlers to effectively clown Roc's aggressive persona.
Have there been battles with more uproarious reaction and scandalous moments? Sure, but the level of sheer competition on display here instantly gave it a classic feel. The level of respect on both sides was obvious, if not from the level of preparation then from the way the emcees posed together after the battle and chopped it up like the champs they are. Style clash, 2-1 either way, all that shit. It's that kind of battle, and aren't you glad?
Performances Of The Night
Truth be told, despite its overall quality, Summer Madness 6 was a lopsided-ass event. All three of the following performed amazingly and arguably 3-0'd their opponents, and it wouldn't be right to leave any of them out of this category.
"I have nothing else to say! Bring me Lux!" is what JC declared directly after arguably 3-0ing Rum Nitty. I'm paraphrasing by taking out a few dozen exclamation points, but you get the idea. Here's the kicker: people aren't mad at this demand anymore. Whether or not you believe Loaded Lux and JC's pens are "on the same level," whatever that really means, JC's main stage fortitude can no longer be questioned. Fans can't get enough of the slower, more meticulous style he's adopted, his punch count is proving to be difficult to match, and he seems supremely comfortable no matter the setting these days.
As for Nitty, this was by no means a poor showing despite the strength of JC's. The first was relatively competitive, but it was mostly downhill from there. It's hard to put your finger on what exactly Nitty has been missing in his last solo main stage battles (he was deadly on point in his recent 2-on-2), but something seems to have failed to translate from his URL breakout vs. Ave. In addition to probably making the battle more debatable, maybe the footage will help clear this up.
You'd be hard pressed to find a better example of a battler learning from his mistakes from one battle to the next than NOME-7-T-Top compared to SM6-T-Top. Versus Goodz, Top seemed frustrated, anxious, and mostly unable to connect with the crowd. Versus Ave, he couldn't have been more confident and comfortable, even though losing his voice had him sounding like the grim reaper by Round 3.
Ave's delivery sounded rushed compared to Top, and there wasn't a single round where he was able to land punches consistently, at least not nearly as effectively as Top did. It wasn't a poor performance from him, but it showed that he still has yet to master the big stage. It didn't help that, from the jump, Top did everything in his power to make it appear that Ave didn't belong there. Making expert use of the obvious bar-biting angle and what it's done to Ave's trajectory, Top got laughs nearly as often as ooh's and ahh's. Battle rap is nothing if not fickle, and after this battle, it's hard to defend the fans who counted Top out after his high profile loss to Goodz.
There's actually a lot to unpack with K-Shine vs. Hitman Holla, but first and foremost: Hitman brought the strongest three rounds we've seen from him in years and arguably 3-0'd Shine with a phenomenal performance. The first round was actually fairly close, and there was absolutely no slacking on Hitman's part from that point on. As he was quick to point out, while plenty of fans were calling Hitman washed up recently, just as many or more are now amped to have him back in prime form.
On a less fortunate note, directly before this battle, Smack and Beasley took the stage to explain that there had been a misunderstanding. Reportedly, "one of the emcees" had misinterpreted the terms of the battle, mistaking "three minute rounds" for "three minute-rounds" aka three minutes of material, total, over three rounds. If that sounds like horseshit to you, the SM6 crowd felt the same way. Fans were quick to point the finger at K-Shine, who *ahem* totally coincidentally had also been booked to battle the day before. Shine was indeed the culprit, and it showed to some degree. Even so, his rounds were far from short enough to merit the disclaimer. It was a questionable move that turned what might have been a solid performance into a full-on "fight back" scenario, and Hitman capitalized.
Surprise Of The Night: Cortez vs. Nu Jerzy Twork
As has become URL's habit, this surprise battle was an exclusive for the live audience, taking place before the pay per view stream started. This was Twork's second time in a row being part of a main stage surprise battle, and according to most fan reactions, this one went much better for him than his NOME showing versus Mike P. There were reportedly no slips on either side, and there seems to be a "2-1 either way" consensus with perhaps a slight majority of fans in the building edging Cortez. Twork can now continue his momentum on the big stage, and Cor has once again reminded fans that he's never someone to play with, even against a fan favorite. Salute these emcees; that's how you kick off an event.
Disappointment Of The Night: Calicoe vs. Brizz Rawsteen
Battle rap has a way of subverting expectations, not always positively, and sometimes the stars just don't align. On paper, this had "classic" written all over it, and many fans, maybe even the majority, predicted it to be Battle Of The Night. It had its moments, but it mostly left onlookers scratching their heads.
Make no mistake, Calicoe's first round was electrifying, the highlight of the battle by an immeasurable margin. He got to go second after a disastrous Round 1 from Brizz, and the quality of those two rounds was night and day. Brizz was plagued with mic issues before he even started his first, and Cal chastised him throughout the time it took the staff to fix the issues, making it seem like it was his own fault. However much this all distracted Brizz, it doesn't explain the caliber of content he delivered throughout the battle. For lack of a better description, the rounds seemed "dumbed down" and featured about a thousand more Cal/cow flips than you'd ever hope to hear. In reality, Brizz probably just tried to tweak his approach to gain an edge and ended up with something far from his usual ability. It happens, and he'll undoubtedly come back strong given the arguably 9-0 streak he was on with his last three battles.
Interestingly, Cal had just about as tough a time as Brizz after Round 1, arguably even tougher. Simply put, he lost pretty much everyone in the second with non-sequiturs and tangents that seemed to have little to do with the battle, and a choke in the midst of it certainly didn't help. Maybe that round will improve on camera– the third definitely will— but the fact that this battle became debatable after Cal tore the roof off in the first was unexpected to say the least.
What did you think of Summer Madness? Let us know in the comments below.