Local Emcees Drop Words and Wisdom at ‘A Very Solid Card’
This clash of microphones and might is presented by Street Status, a local organization that has established itself as a national influencer in the battle rap scene by racking up 10.5 million views and 30,000 YouTube subscribers. In presenting more than 160 competitions, Street Status has elevated St. Louis’ status within the genre while also launching the careers of local emcees B-Magic, Yung ILL and Aye Verb.
Similar to slam dunk contests in the NBA, battle rap features fierce competitors bringing their lyrical bravado as they insult, jab, boast and poke at their opponents. Recorded on albums or presented as live freestyles, this form of rapping features two foes throwing punches of prose in an all-out effort to come up on top.
“This event is … like an anniversary card for the fans and supporters of Street Status,” says Owe Weston, creator of the 10-year-old battle league. “We had to go extremely big by booking some of the most highly touted battle emcees in the culture. Also, it’s time for our brand to level up considering the impact that we have had globally. Outside of New York and Detroit, St. Louis is one the top markets in the culture for battle rap.” He added, “Battle emcees from the area are being booked monthly on neighboring leagues for $500 to $20,000 for a full-round battle.”
Highlighting “A Very Solid Card” is hometown hero Yung ILL, who puts pride on the line against John John Da Don, a New York-based performer known for his setups and storytelling. Also featured is a war of words between Ooops (aka former Missouri House Representative Bruce Franks, who was recently profiled in MTV’s new documentary “St. Louis Superman“) and Nu Jerzey Twork, a rough-and-ready veteran of more than 55 battles. After some serious smack talk on social media, Boat Shoe Holly (an up-and-comer of nine battles) and St. Louis’ own Dubby Dubb will finally throw down, as will top battle rapper B-Magic, who finally gets to speak his mind against Brooklyn’s Math Hoffa. The bill also features hometown favorite MVP sparring against Atlanta’s Chef Trez.
Rap battles have risen steadily in popularity for three decades because of the antagonism and intense discourse on stage—but Weston is quick to point out that despite the fierce competition, the verbal jousting between emcees on “A Very Solid Card” is not hostile. “This is definitely a very friendly event, but the things that the emcees yell to each other isn’t friendly at all. You could compare it to boxing. The opponents are ready to rip each other’s heads off, but after the event is over, there’s nothing but love and respect for the culture.”
Images courtesy of Street Status.