Maybe Joe should have laid low. As a treat for the audience who remember his battling days, Eminem put together a battle series featuring one his label’s front men Joe Budden. He cleverly titled the event Total Slaughter, alluding to the grittiness expected from the competition and for having Joe as the main event. Unfortunately, even with the grace of being named the main event and having a relation to the producers of the battle, you have to bring out everything in the arsenal when inserted in a rap battle with emcee’s who have been earning their bread this way for years. Hollow Da Don showed Joe that there were no exceptions.
It was the perfect set up for breaking the mainstream threshold. Featuring some of Smack URL’s heavy hitters like Arsonal and T-Rex, the battles had a line-up that has generated mass amounts of YouTube views and underground buzz. It was eye opening to see the variety of faces there were in the crowd; holding characters hailing from many different cultural backgrounds. This was vastly different from the usual neighborhood battle crowd getting their fill on a verbal dogfight. It revealed the new crowd of battle watchers: those who watch from home, astounded by the lyrical styles and cheering on their favorites. I think this had a direct influence onto the amount of reinforcement some bars may have acclaimed during the battle, with which some contestants were not able to swoon too well. Nevertheless, is on a new platform and will continue to grow from here.
As for Joey; it was not his night. In an interviews with radio shows like The Breakfast Club on Power 105.1 and Hot 97, Hollow Da Don and Joe Budden showed early signs of disdain for one another, with Joe even placing a $1000 bet with DJ Envy and Charlamagne da God on the spot. Well it seems that DJ Envy and Charlamagne have some of Joe’s ends now, as a result of Joe’s choppy flow and low crowd turnover rate even though his punch lines hit hard. Hollow Da Don took Joe’s lack of correct preparation and used it to bury him. Undoubtedly, Joe lost much more than Hollow would have—given that he is the only rapper among the line-up established in the mainstream world. Perhaps this will be the beginning of other mainstream artists taking part in underground battle series; Joe Budden could return for redemption.
From what it seems in hindsight, the main event took place where Philadelphia battle emcee Murda Mook marked his territory against the favorite Loaded Lux. Coming off the 3 million+ viewed Smack URL battle between Loaded Lux and Calicoe, where Lux pushed away the contenders and stepped forth as motivational speaker in the Smack circuit, Lux was expected to solidify his reign. Unfortunately for Lux, his parade was thunder-stormed by taking 3 straight rounds of flame coming from Murda Mook’s mouth. It was non-stop pressure being applied to Lux, coming from his opponent and little response from the audience and judges during his rounds. Of course the path in which the round is going for the rapper, in regards to feeding off the crowd’s energy and throwing counter, is going to help dictate a win in a battle, but Mook showed up entirely from start to finish. One thing to know for sure is that the competitive nature of Lux will not allow him to take this loss and fade into the background.
There are too many mainstream artists who reach stardom while escaping the “Is he lyrical enough?” argument. As seen by the amount of attention that battle rap has been receiving virally, there is an audience that still enjoys the power that words still have over the art form. The expansion will continue through the following battles and crowd champions, along with a few major headline artists sprinkled in to take their shot. With the crowd changing, the playing field may be becoming more level between the two realms as long as mainstream artists can find the grit.