Eight of California’s freshest freestyle MCs battled it out at Los Angeles’ Echoplex last week, as part of Red Bull EmSee competition where rappers will battle in events across the country.
During an evening filled with piercing punch lines and lyrical acrobatics, MCs Dizaster, A-Dog, The Saurus, Cadalack Ron, Rheteric Ramirez, Scatterbrain and Madness came ready to throw down, but it was San Jose’s Dirtbag Dan who came out on top.
Dirtbag Dan will now advance to the Red Bull EmSee national finals in Atlanta later this fall.
The evening’s battle in L.A., hosted by rapper Bun B, was judged by a panel of hip-hop heavies including Kurupt, Chali 2na (J5) and MC Supernatural; also keeping a watchful eye on the show from the audience’s perspective was Big Gipp of Goodie Mob.
The Red Bull EmSee competition format puts a spin on the traditional rap battle, providing random prompts and cues on screens that the MCs needed to hit in each of their flows, challenging them to truly spit rhymes off-the-dome.
Winner Dirtbag Dan explained his experience, “this is a freestyle battle, so there is no preparation. I showed up here with a clear head. You never really know how well you’re going to do — you just have to feel it.
“Tonight I felt it, I was in the moment — this format kinda forces you to be in the moment. It pushed all of us to a place we don’t ordinarily get pushed,” he continued.
Dirtbag said the ques made it a very type of battle, but in the end, he was just glad he won.
“We’re all battle rappers, but usually we have a lot more control over the performance,” said Dan. “Tonight we were all just kinda flying by the seat of our pants — I’m just glad I came out on top.”
Dan impressed all of the judges with his freestyle skills. MC Supernatural noted that he “showed real MC prowess” by being able to consistently hit all of his cues.
In between rounds, fans and competing MCs were treated to special performances by the judges. MC Supernatural was first to perform and kept it strictly freestyle with what he called an “MC obstacle course.” He asked the crowd to pull out whatever was in their pockets and hold it in the air. He then rapped and hit upon some of the objects — such as a Minnesota driver’s license, a hairbrush, and more.
Next to perform was Chali 2na who kept the crowd entertained with his unique baritone flow. And then, after the winner was announced, Kurupt took to the stage and kicked off his performance with crowd favorite, “Who Ride Wit Us.”
MCs The Saurus, Dirtbag Dan, Madness and Dizaster were second time Red Bull EmSee competitors, having competed in last year’s stop in San Francisco. First time competitors included A-Dog, Cadalack Ron, Rheteric Ramirez and Scatterbrain.
“You know what? I feel like I did really good last year, so to take the win tonight, it really feels like justice. That’s all I can say,” said Dirtbag Dan, who placed second in San Francisco in 2010.
Dirtbag Dan is a San Jose native that grew up battle rapping in the 90’s when no one he knew had studios and thus, he didn’t have any opportunities to record. Competing in battles or attending open mic nights was the only way he could get in front of an actual audience. These experiences solidified the competitive element into his style, and he credits this as the man driving force in his music today.
Today, he participates in battles all over the world, possibly earning him the title of competing in more countries than any other battle rapper on the planet. This summer, Dirtbag Dan plans to compete in four battles in four different countries and produce a recording from each. He is also dropping his Dirtbag Dan, Self-Help, tape next month.
Looking ahead to the Red Bull EmSee finals in Atlanta he shares, “I’m excited to go to the finals. I know I’m gonna know some of the MCs that are in the battle, and respect to the MCs, but I’m gonna roast ‘em.” He confidently finishes, “I’m here to win.”
If Dirtbag Dan indeed wins the national finals, he will be heading into Red Bull Studios in Santa Monica to work with a producer of his choice from a select panel. But first, he’ll have to go up against some of the best freestyle MCs from around the country.
The next Red Bull EmSee battle will be hosted in Seattle on July 28 at Volume.
For more info, visit Redbull.com/RedBullEmSee.