Spittin\’ BULL-ets

| August 19, 2010 | 0 Comments

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If a picture is worth a 1,000 words, then Red Bull will make sure this holds true.

The powerhouse energy drink brand hosts its last stop before the finals of a seven-city installment of Red Bull EmSee: The Road to 8 Mile in Atlanta on Aug. 17, 2010. Held at the downtown premier rock club, The Masquerade, eight emcees are given the virtual spotlight to spit their hottest bars and to put their rap skills to the test. The heat is on within the grimy, paint-peeling sweaty walls of the poster laden rock music haven as spectators and lovers of hip hop all pack the house and surround the ‘Heaven’ stage.

Red Bull also hosts the series in Orlando, New York, Greensboro, Houston, Philadelphia and Detroit. Each competitor from each city will vie for the title in Detroit before the ultimate judge, rap artist Eminem, who is also the main face behind Red Bull EmSee.

Hosted by hip hop artist/human beatbox D.R.E.S. the Beatnik, hip hop lyrical giant Bun B. (also a distinguished Red Bull alumnus participating in the Houston EmSee installment along with the Music Academy among other campaigns), DJ Don Cannon and 2009 Red Bull EmSee winner Manchild all judge the competition. DJ Lord, known for his DJ work with legendary hip hop group Public Enemy, is on the ones and twos: rockin’ the crowd prior to showtime and between rounds. D.R.E.S. makes the rules very clear up front. “No spittin’, no hittin’, no bitin’, no bitin.’ Embrace it, and let it go.”

4-Ize, KP, DT, Headkrack, Me…That’s Who, Carter Deems, Fattman, and lone female StaHHr all compete. The contestants stand center stage, similar to a haute couture catwalk, and sit in their custom director’s chairs along the sidelines. The contestants are given random virtual photo and word cues, some texted in by the crowd, to incorporate into their rhymes over the course of a minute. Competitors are alerted by the sound of a blaring horn when time is up.

“This night is about love for the music and the love of the artform with a passion,” D.R.E.S. tells the crowd prior to showtime. Bun, one of hip hop’s more respected lyricists known for his depth-laden subject matter and impeccable flows, knows his expertise is the right voice for the job. “It takes an OG to make hard decisions right now,” he says. “It’s all about incorporating images. If you nervous, throw up before you get out here. That’s it – nothing wrong with being nervous. Nothing wrong with being ill-prepared. Don’t stumble over your words, and you should be alright. Just keep rapping.”

Prior to the announcement of Headkrack, with his heavy uses of witty punchlines; a humorous voice; insult-laden bars and the quick ability to think on his feet, becoming the crown holder, Bun B. takes the stage to perform a medley of his classics – “Pushin,” “You’re Everything,” “Draped Up,” “Get Throwed,” “Big Pimpin,” “International Players’ Anthem (I Choose You),” “That’s Gangsta,” the latest cuts “Chuuch,” “Trillionaire,” “Let ‘Em Know,” and a custom rendition of Rick Ross’ “Blowin’ Money Fast” —  with longtime collaborator, producer Cory Mo. Bun rocks the crowd so hard during “Big Pimpin,” the crowd sings hard as the music silences. “The [Red Bull EmSee] freestyle battle is 2.0,” he believes. “It’s the next level in the game. Hope everybody have a good time.”

Headkrack, a New York native who moved to Dallas and now calls Atlanta home, is excited about taking the Red Bull rap throne. With his black NY fitted turned backwards over his heedful of dreads rocked with a tee full of black speakers, he’s true to game. “To me, it’s more challenging to freestyle, make something up on the spot as it happens, and that’s pretty much stuff that’s up my alley,” he says backstage after the show. “That’s lettin’ the crowd know that that’s something special that’s happening for them right at that time.”

Headkrack takes the competition in stride. “[Red Bull] battles make it kinda easy by sayin’ this is what you have to rap about,” he believes. “Half the problem has already been done right there.” And then, there is the challenge. “The toughest was probably the acapella at the end because it’s about finding rhythm and finding your rhythm. Other than that, it was fun. Like the first two rounds were like chewing gum.”

Headkrack is a local on-air radio DJ, ironically with an R&B background, who doesn’t mind using his day hustle to fund his raps, which he says is his side hustle. During the final round, the crowd boos him in reference to his rhyme about his opponent’s, Fattman (who performs the entire show with his shirt off and stomach overlapping his khaki cargo shorts) cheering section. He continues to rhyme in the midst of all the chaos. “I’ve been doing this for so long, I’ve learned how to tune that type of stuff out,” he says. “And flip what they’re sayin’ and even incorporate that into my freestyle. I just try to use everything as a weapon.” Prior to performing, Headkrack listens to Bun B. (a move he notes is an obvious one), Nas and Canibus to get him in the mood to spit hot bars, but his love for boxing places him in his element.

“It’s crazy – different people at different times,” he says. “I watch Mike Tyson tapes before I fight. I shit you not because…I understand. He was a chubby dude growin’ up. I was a chubby dude, too. And people always underestimated him and doubted him, and people underestimate me and doubt me because I’m on the radio.”

Headkrack is going heads up with five other starvin’ emcees in mic-to-mic combat. “Once I get to Detroit, my plan is to try and recreate that same that I did tonight: come out there, freestyle, be spontaneous, razzle dazzle, and give people freestyles like on the spot.” He says in his own words, “Em’s that dude,” but knows that something else more sincere comes from this opportunity.

“Moreso for me, I want my son to meet Eminem,” he says. “He’s 10; he’s a huge Eminem fan. I’m just doin’ it for my son. I hate he couldn’t be here.”

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