20 Questions With Emerson Kennedy

Get to know one of the West's most promising up-and-comers.

Long a hotbed of talent, the West Coast has produced some of the biggest names in battle rap, and with platforms like URL and KOTD expanding into California, up-and-comers are making it to the major leagues faster than ever before.

Emerson Kennedy is one of the names that more fans are finally starting to notice. The Brooklyn-born/Utah-raised/Cali-based rapper has long been one of the most slept-on talents in the West, building a solid resume over the last few years with AHAT, where he faced opponents such as Daylyt, Danny Myers and Lotta Zay. Now as a result of well-regarded URL PG battles against Jerry Wess and Cali Smoov, his name is starting to ring out.

Co-headlining URL's May 7 event in Oakland in a one-off against Young Kannon, Kennedy is a name you'll be hearing a lot more from in the future, so let's get to know him a little better.

Who are you?
A nerd who listened to too much Noreaga growing up.

How old are you?
32, and you still rapping? UGH... (Game voice).

Why do you live where you live?
I live in L.A. because I date an actress.

How long have you been battling/rapping?
I've been rapping for 14 years, only been battling for like four.

What made you start?
Twitter fingers. I started because a local rapper took a shot at me in a chat group. Smh, he works at AutoZone now.

How did you get your battle rap name?
Got my name from an argument my mom had with my birth father. I won't get too deep into it but she 3-0'd that nigga.

How would you describe your style in three words?
Another lost nigga.

What makes you different from other battle rappers?
I do it strictly for the competition. Just to find out how good I am, or how not good I am. I don't take battles for sport, money, or anything. Strictly to gauge my progress.

What’s your best battle?
My best battle was against Cali Smoov for the "Traffic" PG in L.A. I prepared for that within four days of the battle and performed the best I ever have. Crowd reaction was crazy, I felt like a God man ... and then I went to work the next morning :(

Emerson vs. Cali Smoov.

What was your worst?
My worst was against Danny Myers. This was before he was DANNY FUCKING MYERS but he was on the rise. It was only on 24-hours notice and I choked. Danny sent my soul to where Rich Dollaz at.

What did you learn from them?
I learned that sometimes no matter how much you do or don't prep, every once in a while you can channel something greater in a battle. Not to get too weird on you but you know when Steph is shooting and he can't miss? It's like that. You just start feeling like everything you say is gonna hit and you can feel it in the room. No bullshit. I've been on both ends of it. It's a great and disastrous place to be.

What’s surprised you the most since you started battling?
Its a three-way tie.

1. How more leagues haven't involved more sound and visual effects like Black Ice. I know it's a slippery slope and it might come off corny but as a big movie fan I think it would add a huge cinematic bonus if done right.

2. How the URL hasn't done a tournament. They would make crazy paper with it, and the battle world would be going crazy for a March Madness like tournament that took place over a full year and culminated at Summer Madness or something. Similar to what AHAT is doing now.

3. I'm still very surprised that Danny got his shoes stolen at that KOTD event. C'mon, my nigga...

What’s your favorite battle of all time?
My favorite battle of all time is anything with DOT in it. Y'all think I'm bullshittin. You wanna watch performing excellence, go run that Bill collector vs. DOT battle back. That shit sensational. Arsonal vs. QP is up there though.

Who’s in your current Top 5?
If you're asking me to tell you my favorite battlers to watch it's gonna be a different answer than who I think are the best five. I tend to lean towards watching battles that have huge entertainment value because everybody can write nowadays but few people can really perform. So y'all gonna kill me with this Top 5 but I gotta keep it 3000.

5. Cali Smoov/Billy Boondocks
4. Gwitty
3. DOT
2. Lux
1. Diesel/Gjonaj

Which battle rapper annoys you?
DNA. I'll forgive the obvious setups, and the punchlines we see coming a mile away but I cant forgive them extra medium shirts you wear that look like they snap between the crotch my nigga. Get those the fuck outta here!

Who would you battle if you could choose anyone?
Gjonaj. Big fan of his pen, and it would force me to go into a cave for a month to see what I could do to combat that.

What’s the biggest problem in battle rap?
Big T.

How would you fix it?

What do you do when you’re not battling?
I'm making music. This really has transformed into a platform where I've seen some of my battle fans gain an interest in my music. Didn't think that was possible.

How do you want to be remembered?
Humble, hardworking kid that wanted to make his moms proud.

See all our coverage on Emerson Kennedy and check out our other 20 questions profiles.