Urban Underground Weekly continues to promote quality hip hop in San Diego (also in the OC and LA); this week they bring an important, and often underrepresented aspect of hip hop, to SD’s Kava Lounge: the battle.
Patrons were warmly welcomed into the Kava Lounge by DJ Adamnt, who kept the party going all night, from the first three members of the audience and Rime1 freestyling, to fifty or so moving to the soulful samples and classic drums of producers like DJ Premier and LA local Dibiase. Though the focus of the night was the battle, the line-up leading up to it was quality:
Yoshi, recent SD transplant from Ann Arbor, MI, was the first emcee on the bill. Yoshi has a very poppy sound (and I mean no disrespect by that), but the vibe, or energy, emitted by him did not feel like a fit for the divey Kava and UUW Wednesday nights. Yoshi is most definitely not lacking in talent, energy and likability; one might suggest making sure the set list is appropriate for the audience next time though. Keep track of Yoshi via Facebook and watch his assimilation into SD’s hip hop culture, expecting progression.
Focus Da Champ, a Compton, CA resident if I’m not mistaken, was the next to rock the mic. Beats and rhymes had the unmistakable signature sound of the West Coast, something like a combination of LA and Oakland. Focus had a lot of charisma, but lacked a bit of connection with the audience (though it was still somewhat sparse at the time) and had little stage presence (which changed come time for the battle). With a little bit of practice, and a hype man on the hooks and ad libs, Focus Da Champ will command an audience and have everyone two steppin’ with a drink in the air.
Champ The Greight, of Cincinnati, backed by SD’s Foster Child, was third up. Champ was a good follow up to Focus; both had a “rock to the beat or I’ll kick in your teeth” vibe, while remaining fun, strangely. Foster Child did a couple of tracks to wrap up the set; the audience would not have been at all opposed to a few more tracks from the introspective emcee.
AD, of House Of Rep, carried in him the energy of hip hop in Oceanside, CA (though I am not sure he is from O-side?). Up north there is a genuine love for the art that is unmistakable, and AD embodied it. Based on his performance, and some of the statements he made during such, AD has made a recent push to step out and perform music that he has been creating for years. His energy was infectious, love of the art tangible, and lyricism raw. As AD grows in confidence on the mic, combined with the aforementioned qualities he already possesses, AD will be a crowd favorite.
Rebels to the Grain ain’t nuttin’ to mess with. The duo put on a show. That doesn’t happen a whole lot at underground hip hop events. Cheddy set up his MPC3000 while DJ Leviathan kept the audience moving. The MPC was used to trigger the instrumentals that Cheddy and MP rocked to for the most engaging 30-40 minutes of the night. These fellas were firing on all cylinders: stage presence was on point, connection with the audience, ridiculous samples, drums were raw (the snares jumped into your ears and slapped your spine), and the content and delivery sealed the deal. The duo also push true hip hop over the airwaves at Breakbeats and Rhymes Radio.
Aspect1, producer/emcee/affiliate of Project Blowed, is ill. While he embodies the freedom in hip hop embraced by Project Blowed, his delivery and content reminded me of Murs: he was able to eloquently discuss real life, while not seeming like he only focuses on the emotional side of hip hop. Later in the night he flexed his ability to freestyle and overall was a pleasure to watch/listen to.
By now, the audience had gotten its ten dollars worth, and the battle was still yet to come. Instead of a written play by play, here is the video footage:
Round 1: Mantix VS SyphurOne
Round 2: EP VS Champ Da Greight
Round 3: Rime1 VS Saizar
Round 4: Focus Da Champ VS RazorRamon
Semi – 1: SyphurOne VS Saizar
Semi – 2: Focus Da Champ VS Champ Da Greight
FINAL ROUND: Champ Da Greight VS SyphurOne
The night, as is befitting Urban Underground events, was humble yet dope. Well worth the time, money and energy on a Wednesday night. Big ups to SyphurOne who is one of SD’s, if not Southern Cali’s, fiercest battle emcees. Be sure to stop by on Wednesday, May 25th, to catch the Typical Cats and others, compliments of UUW and the Kava Lounge.
Peace and Love,