The Detroit stop of Red Bull’s EmSee freestyle battle competition went down on last Friday (October 28), and after eight rappers battled it out, it was Hostyle who walked away the evening’s victor.
Following a night filled with piercing punch lines and lyrical acrobatics, the Detroit native won over the crowd and was crowned the Detroit champion. Later this year, he will advance to the Red Bull EmSee National Championships in Atlanta.
“Right now, I feel amazing, I feel like I’m on top of the world,” Hostyle exclaimed after the win. “It’s crazy, this is my third battle winning at St. Andrews, but this is a big one, winning in front of Royce and all them. What it felt like to be up there with Bun B was exhilarating. I just listened to him on the radio on the way up here, and I’ve been listenin’ to Ridin’ Dirty since I was 16.”
Though Hostyle came out on top, each of the competition’s seven other battlers brought out the blazing, lyrical big guns — from wordplay wit to lightning-quick flow — in front of the captivated crowd.
Also among the sea of onlookers were legendary rapper and host Bun B, as well as a panel of hip-hop heavies including Royce da 5’9 (Slaughterhouse), Denaun Porter (D12), and Trick Trick (Goon Squad). Judges kept a watchful eye on competitors, as they rapped their way through a format that put a spin on the traditional rap battle. Pictures and words were randomly prompted on screens as cues before timed round that the MCs needed to hit in each of their flows, challenging them to creatively spit rhymes off-the-dome. In the end, Hostyle’s ingenious freestyle skills proved the most impressive.
“I saw a lot of talented battle rappers,” mentioned Royce on what he was looking for as a judge. “I’ve always been a fan of battle rapping, but I’m a fan of being clever and witty when battle rapping as opposed to being violent and aggressive, and I think that clever and witty won tonight. Big ups to my man, Hostyle.”
In addition to the main event, fans and the competing MCs were treated to special performances by the judges in between rounds. Trick Trick was first to perform and kept it strictly freestyle. Next to perform was Mr. Porter. After the winner was announced, Royce da 5’9 took to the stage.
In his early years, Eight Mile-native Hostyle tuned into “Lyricist Lounge” and “Blaze Battles” for inspiration, particularly from Proof of D12. He began making his own music and his childhood affection grew into a confidence that is undeniable on-stage.
“I’m going to need to be really lyrical, more so lyrical than this time, and be ready to be really respectful to the south,” he said, looking ahead to the Red Bull EmSee finals in Atlanta. “I AM FOCUSED, I AM FOCUSED, I AM FOCUSED.”
“I Am Focused” is also the name of his latest single. On the track’s video, he declares, “when I’m looking for the best, I am all I find.”
Find Hostyle on Facebook as “Kauovi Hostyle Montilus,” or on Twitter @Hostylewoofpac.
Hostyle will go up against the winning freestyle MCs from the rest of this year’s Red Bull EmSee series, which includes Los Angeles, Seattle, Philadelphia, Houston, Boston, and Washington, D.C. so far.
The next Red Bull EmSee battle will be in Miami on November 16th, concluding the tour before the national finals are held in Atlanta later this year.
If Hostyle wins, then he will be the second national Red Bull EmSee champion from Detroit to head into Red Bull Studios in Santa Monica to work with a producer of his choice from a select panel.
For more info, visit RedBullUSA.com/EmSee.