Looking back on 2012, it quickly becomes clear that this has been the most significant year in battle rap’s history. Things have moved so quickly, changed so drastically, that even 2011 is hardly recognizable. Only a year ago, things like a battle hitting a million views, mainstream artist or celebrity involvement, and attention from major media outlets were monumental events. Now they’re a regular occurrence. In a series of posts over the new few weeks, I’ll be taking a look back on the past year, for our 2012 Year In Review.
To start things off, we’re going to look at some of the year’s biggest moments. These are the stories that grabbed everyone’s attention, and put a momentary spotlight on the world of battle rap. While the culture of battle rap has a long way to go before it establishes itself in the mainstream, many of these stories proved that it has the potential to.
2012 Year In Review | Biggest Stories In Battle Rap | Grind Time’s Fall
It’s hard to believe that it was on January 11th of 2012, when Drect announced that he was leaving Grind Time Now. It seems like so long ago, at this point. That’s partially because everyone knew something was coming, long before any announcements were made. It seemed inevitable, going back as far as the aftermath of the GrizzleMania 2 event, and Kap Kallous’ departure from the company.
That said, it was still a shock to everyone, when Drect was the first person to speak out, and announce that he was leaving the company. This was one of the people who started the league, and if he was willing to give it up and head in a new direction, things must have been more complicated than people realized. Others quickly followed as Lush One partnered up with King Of The Dot, and Poison Pen headed to URL. Most of the other divisions were shut down, or became their own leagues, such a SupaNova Battles and The Loud Mouth League.
Grind Time Now has done its best to restructure and remain relevant, with Madd Illz running things, primarily in Grind Time’s home state of Florida. Meanwhile, other leagues have popped up, and begun filling the void left behind. iBattle Worldwide, Spit Dat Heat and many others have established themselves, and begun putting out quality battles. In the end, there’s a lot of work left to do, before Grind Time Now regains its status in the culture, but no one can deny the legacy they’ve left behind.
2012 Year In Review | Biggest Stories In Battle Rap | The Canibus Notepad
Along with the surprising announcement that Lush One would be leaving Grind Time Now and starting a new West Coast division of King Of The Dot, came the even more shocking announcement that Canibus would be battling Dizaster. Months before the legends made their return at Summer Madness 2, and long before artists like Meek Mill even thought of entertaining the idea, Canibus decided it would be a good idea to do a battle.
In the months leading up to the event, the same hip hop sites that had never acknowledged battle rap’s existence, suddenly started taking an interest. There was a lot of coverage from all the major hip hop sites, and even a few mainstream news outlets. Radio shows, articles, promotional videos, and press releases for the PPV quickly spread across the internet.
At the venue, there was nearly as many Canibus fans, as there were fans of battle rap. We spoke with a few of them, some of whom had spent thousands of dollars, just to see their idol in a battle for the first time. They seemed so filled with optimism, no question in their minds on the outcome, Canibus was going to destroy him. While I didn’t share in their optimistic outlook, even I couldn’t believe what ended up happening.
The news spread fast, memes were started, bootleg footage popped up all over the internet, and die-hard fans did their best to rationalize Canibus’ actions. Ironically, if Canibus had put forth an impressive performance, it probably wouldn’t have received near as much publicity. Suddenly, it was more than just a battle, it was a historical moment in hip hop.
2012 Year In Review | Biggest Stories In Battle Rap | Summer Madness 2
The Canibus battle may have grabbed the attention of mainstream media, but URL’s Summer Madness 2 event held it. From the moment the “Return of The Legends” trailer dropped, everyone’s attention turned to Summer Madness 2. The return of four battle rap legends in Serius Jones, Iron Solomon, Murda Mook and Loaded Lux. A card filled with potential classics, like battle rap had never seen.
The expectations were so high going into the event, it’d be hard for URL to deliver. Somehow, even despite a few problems, they exceeded those expectations in a lot of ways. The crowd booing during every battle, E. Ness self destructing during his battle with DNA, people walking out on the main event… none of that mattered, in the end.
They packed Webster Hall with over 2,000 fans, including mainstream artists like Diddy, Busta Rhymes, Q-Tip, Cassidy and more. News outlets like Fuse were in attendance for the event. The event was sponsored by Diddy’s Ciroc and Revolt companies, and he put up 10K on one of the battles. The event even trended on Twitter, multiple times throughout the night.
All of that attention continued throughout the next few months, as battles from the event were released. Radio appearances, high profile interviews, and coverage continued until it became a normal occurrence. Every battle from the event passed 500,000 views, and a few have reached a million, while it’s only a matter of time for the others. All in all, Summer Madness 2 raised the bar to such a high level, it completely changed the landscape of battle rap.
2012 Year In Review | Biggest Stories In Battle Rap | Loaded Lux
As big of a deal as Summer Madness 2 was, somehow it got eclipsed by one man. Summer Madness 2 may have trended on twitter, but Loaded Lux was the subject of Jay Z’s 34th tweet. Battlers involved in Summer Madness 2 might have appeared on VladTV and Sway In The Morning, but Loaded Lux appeared on The Howard Stern Show.
Shaq put out a video, freestyling with Loaded Lux. “You gon get this work” was said multiple times on Inside The NBA. It was even incorporated into a touchdown celebration, during an NFL game. Dozens of celebrities, athletes and mainstream artists mentioned Loaded Lux’s performance in one way or another.
It’s become clear that Loaded Lux knew what he was doing, and went into Summer Madness 2 with a purpose. From the outset, Lux laid the groundwork with his video where he was making funeral arrangements for Calicoe. He then showed up to the battle in a hearse, with a casket, paul bearers and a grieving woman. It wasn’t just a battle to Lux, it was the right stage for the performance of a lifetime.
It wasn’t all performance though, he backed it up with his bars. By the time the battle was over, it didn’t even matter that he choked in the first round. His third round was so impactful, nothing else mattered. His unique delivery, the confidence and stage presence, the quotables (even the adlibs), the wordplay. It had everything people look for in battles, along with a message no one expected from him, in front of a crowd you wouldn’t think would be receptive. Somehow, Loaded Lux stepped onto the biggest stage in battle rap’s history, and made it look small in comparison to his performance.
2012 Year In Review | Biggest Stories In Battle Rap | Meek Mill vs Cassidy
Following the Canibus battle, Summer Madness 2, and all of the Loaded Lux hysteria, other legends from battle rap’s past started speaking out about the possibility of returning. Reed Dollaz, Reign Man, Joey Jihad, Jae Millz, JR Writer, Diabolic, and Juice all threw their names out there, for possible returns. As big of a deal as those could be, the biggest surprise was the announcement from Meek Mill, that he was interested in battling.
Shortly after tweeting about the possibility of battling, Meek Mill did an interview with XXL Editor Shaheem Reid on the subject. During the interview, he was asked what battle he would set up if he had the choice. He said that he’d like to see Cassidy vs Murda Mook. Many sites misinterpreted what was said, and reported that Meek wanted to battle Cassidy. Word got back to Cassidy, and he quickly responded by accepting the battle..
By the time the dust settled, and it was made clear that Meek Mill wasn’t asking for a Cassidy battle, it was too late. This eventually lead to a few comments from Meek Mill taking shots on Twitter, and they started going back and forth. From there, Cassidy took a couple of shots on his “Diary Of A Hustler” track. Cassidy then dropped his actual diss track “Me, Myself & iPhone”, and Meek Mill responded with “Repo”. Cassidy had a response of his own, this time a 10 minute track, called “R.A.I.D.” also known as “Robert Ass Is Dead (The COCKROACH BURIAL)”. Ar-Ab got involved, Swizz beats weighed in, and quite a few others have voiced their opinions.
The upside to all of this, is that it has kept the subject of battle rap in the minds of a larger audience. The downside, is that it has become abundantly clear that a battle between them will probably never happen. Cassidy and a few other battlers have said they had the funding for a Meek Mill battle, and Smack himself said he was ready to make it happen, but Meek Mill changed his tune on the subject of battling. One thing is clear though, even with the idea of a battle becoming less likely, it hasn’t stopped battle and hip hop fans alike, from following along and discussing the possibility.
2012 Year In Review | Biggest Stories In Battle Rap | Conclusion
While this doesn’t cover everything that took place throughout the year, these are the stories that will endure. The moments that people will be talking about for years to come. Over the next few weeks, we’ll continue our 2012 Year In Review, with a look at some of the biggest battles of the year, the battlers who had breakout years, an in-depth look at the year for some of the major leagues, and much more. Make sure to continue checking back throughout the month of January, for our 2012 Year In Review.