A great showing took place on Tuesday (May 29) at Masquerade in Atlanta, GA, as Red Bull held the final round of its 2012 EmSee National Freestyle Championship.
A huge mix of hip-hop fans from all sorts of different backgrounds gathered together to enjoy one of the purest forms of the culture; the freestyle battle. And, they were rewarded with a great show from top to bottom, full of some intense moments and really spectacular individual performances by everyone involved.
For those not familiar with Masquerade, it’s a bit of a dive bar atmosphere, definitely not for every type of crowd, but Red Bull put in the extra effort to make sure that not only were attendees going to get to see some great performances by some great up-and-comer, they were also going to experience a great show in every aspect of the sense. The venue was transformed into a stage set that matched the atmosphere perfectly; great lighting, huge flat screens, and an awesome speaker system, but still keeping that underground feeling.
After surviving the preliminary regional battles in cities like Miami, Boston, Los Angeles, and Seattle among others, the eight remaining contenders — Dirtbag Dan (Los Angeles), Bishop I (Seattle), Mic Stew (Philadelphia), Phranchyze (Houston), Pat G (Boston), D’Meitz (Washington D.C.), Hostyle (Detroit) and Jonny Storm (Miami) — were all flown in to the ATL to battle it out in front of some of hip-hop’s finest: David Banner, Big K.R.I.T., and DJ Premier.
If that wasn’t enough star power for the night, Little Brother’s very own Phonte took on the MC duties for the festivities and 9th Wonder killed it on the turntables all night.
The prize for the final rapper standing was a hefty $10,000 prize purse, the opportunity to collaborate with a producer of their choice at the Red Bull Studio in Los Angeles, and the respect and pride that obviously come with winning a title of that magnitude.
The competition was very real and could be felt from the onset. This was definitely not your average freestyle battle and it left no chance of pre-written rhymes being spit as each round the format changed to challenge the rappers. The format included things like the MCs having to incorporating themes from photos, using words chosen from fans, and of course, the conventional method that we’re all used to seeing. At the end, things were so close that the last two guys, Mic Stew and Hostyle, had to go another round just to see who would be crowned champ.
For the first time in Red Bull EmSee history, a competitor brought his mother to watch the battle. Standing with the crowd at the front of the stage, Mic Stew’s mom (Momma Stew) watched as the finalists spat vicious lines at each other — giving it everything they had.
In battle rapping, nothing is off limits, but Phonte may have said it best. “You can rap about peoples’ mama’s, but not if they are in the room.” In the deciding battle, it was Mic Stew who reigned victorious over Hostyle. The judges agreed that the battles were tight all the way to the end, but it was really the last line that Mic Stew dropped that sealed the win. “…and f*** you for dissin’ my beautiful mom.”
After being named the EmSee National Champion, Mic Stew admits, “That last line really shut the house down! I feel amazing, I feel relieved, I’ve been nervous for 24 hours. And I just came to win and I buckled down. I am pumped to go into the Red Bull studio and make a great record.”
If the classic final battle wasn’t enough for fans, they were treated to live performances from
K.R.I.T., David Banner, and even the legendary DJ Premier. All in all, the EmSee Finale was a great event and one of the best things going for young up-and-comers looking to have a platform to perform on.
“When I was coming up in the battle rap game, there weren’t opportunities like this,’ said David Banner “This is a serious for these guys — to get this type of prize and support. If they want to win they need to bring the creativity, showmanship, flows and be original.”