Web Extras: Twin Cities Battle League
Hip-hop is about creativity and freedom. When speaking with the organizers of the Twin Cities Battle League, these values came across loud and clear.
To get the best idea of what the event's all about -- after reading this week's music feature about it, of course -- you'd have to stop by the Blue Nile on the last Friday of the month. Until that day, though check out some MP3s from the rhymes of Illab, the champion from event two. Here's a short clip of one of the night's best disses, and this more complete rhyme where Illab takes on opponent Mike Starks' skinny frame and Lake Street roots.
Illab (left) battles Spy in the final. Visit the photo slideshow, where you can see most of the rappers referenced in the story.
You can also see videos at the Twin Cities Battle League MySpace page.
Battling is an impromptu art, and many who excel their flows are scripted have trouble in this format. "There are some MCs that are good on the mic, but they can't freestyle, they just write," Truthmaze told me. "Some popular MCs would get murdered in a battle."
So I asked him to name a few legendary Twin Cities battle rappers. Here's what he came up with.
Kel C, a.k.a. Kelly Crockett: "He was one of the main MCs that influenced a lot of local artists," says Truthmaze. Kel C is featured in Peter Scholtes' oral history of Twin Cities hip-hop, 1981-1996.
Derrick "Kid Delite" Stevens: Along with Smokey D, Kid Delite made up the Boys in Black. Stevens now works at Beat 96, but you might know him best as MC Skat Kat.
I Self Devine: Truthmaze's comrade in The Micranots, I Self Devine also is interviewed in Scholtes' hip-hop history.
Truthmaze also cited MC Sugar Free and MC Kool Aid (who I couldn't find more information about, and whose names are oddly concordant) as two of the leading voices during a previous era.