[UPDATE - July 14, 2014]
We wanted to showcase this article from May 4 again because of how prophetic it was in places. Total Slaughter happened and by now you probably know it wasn’t pretty. We were in the building for the event so didn’t go through the same frustration that people who ordered the PPV did. But there were other frustrations we did experience.
We’ve been busy writing for BattleRap.com and HipHopDX lately so please excuse the slowness on TOBB. We’re putting out more content than we usually do, you just have to go looking for it.
Also, don’t miss this HipHopDX recap of the event written by the legendary Jay Balfour.
And now, our satirical predictions for Total Slaughter from two months ago.
Total Slaughter has arrived. Well, not exactly arrived but they have put out a trailer announcing two of the four battles for their July card. Slaughterhouse rapper Joe Budden will face off against Hollow Da Don and there will be a rematch of the legendary street battle between Loaded Lux and Murda Mook.
The TS Twitter feed has also recently activated, proclaiming itself “The king of all battle rap leagues.” It’s a bold statement for an unproven league, and one that has already ruffled a few feathers. But they’ve backed it up with a massive PR push, using Eminem’s name to get attention from Rolling Stone, People and NME.
For his first on-camera battle Budden is taking on Hollow Da Don, arguably the best battle rapper of all time. At first glance it seems like an impossible matchup for a beginner, but seeing how the league is run by Shady Records, and the battles are dropping on a website partially owned by Shady Films, there’s a pretty good chance they won’t let their boy look bad, especially when his group has a new album coming out around the same time.
This is another step towards battle rap culture reaching a much larger audience, but reaction has been divided over whether that’s actually a good thing. We’ve put together two sets of predictions for the event. One positive. One negative. Both taken to satirical extremes.
July 12, 2014
Total Slaughter arrives, with a 3,500-strong crowd packing the Hammerstein Ballroom. Ninety per cent of them are Joe Budden fans who have come to check out this “battle rap” thing they just heard about. The stage is thick with VIPs: Budden’s Slaughterhouse crew, Eminem, castmates from Love & Hip Hop, all with assorted entourage members and hangers-on.
Organik, Poison Pen and Smack are in the building, but couldn’t get backstage and have to watch from 15 rows back, mostly unrecognized by the Budden fans who drove in from New Jersey.
The crowd talks through the undercard battles, the biggest reaction coming when a drunk fan heckles Daylyt, yelling “What is this weirdo even talking about?”
But then comes the main event. The lights dim and the room finally goes silent when Eminem walks on stage, speakers blaring “Lose Yourself.” The crowd erupts when he introduces “platinum selling hip-hop superstar Jooooooooooooooooe Buuuuuuuuuddeeeeeeeeeeeen” and people clap politely for “battle rapper Hollow the Don.”
Budden starts, rhyming “Hollow” with “swallow” in his first line but has to stop because the crowd is reacting like crazy. He continues once they settle down, hitting hard with some incredible wordplay and heavy punchlines that the crowd loves, not realizing that Illmaculate had the same material against Hollow in 2009.
Hollow’s content mostly goes over heads, although people do cheer when he brings out Joe’s ex-girlfriend Tahiry and kisses her on the mouth.
In his second round Budden stumbles, forgetting his place after trying to freestyle something about the kiss. After a few seconds of silence, someone from the back of the stage calls out the first line of Budden’s next verse, putting him back on track. The choke is edited out of the official footage. So are the two minutes of Hollow’s third that call out Total Slaughter for exploiting him and the culture to promote their album.
The judges (Eminem, Crooked I, Joell Ortiz, Royce da 5’9″ and Joe Budden) unanimously give the battle to Joe Budden.
Every long-time battle fan calls it a clear 3-0 for Hollow, but it doesn’t matter because their opinions are drowned out by the thousands of new fans on Twitter saying Budden won. This new breed of fan combines ignorance and arrogance in ways never seen before.
After the dust settles on what purists call “the worst battle rap event of all time,” KOTD and URL try to get back to business by booking their next big cards. Unfortunately they can’t use anyone who appeared on TS because those battlers signed exclusivity contracts that last for the next two years.
A reality TV exec sees the potential in the culture and launches America’s Next Top Battle Rapper. The contestants are given 24-hours notice on their next opponent and battle live in one 90-second round. The rappers aren’t allowed to swear or say anything that might upset the sponsors. Americans vote for who they think won via 99-cent text message. It’s hosted by Mario Lopez.
On the heels of that show’s popularity, The Battle Rap Bachelorette begins, starring 16 MCs battling for a chance to marry Laura Tarsi.
During Season 2 of #ANTBR, Uno Lavoz becomes a household name, bodying opponents mostly based around their lack of dental hygiene. He gets a sweet sponsorship deal from Colgate but they drop him when he accidentally rhymes “rabbit” with “faggot” in a freestyled verse on live TV.
As that scandal reaches its boiling point, Al Sharpton sees Cadalack Ron vs Unorthodox Phrases and declares that battle rap is “putting African Americans back in shackles.”
LGBT advocacy groups team up with the NAACP and lobby YouTube to the point where the company removes all rap battle videos under their “no hate speech” policy.
THE NEW GOLDEN AGE
July 12, 2014
Total Slaughter arrives, with a 3,500-strong crowd packing the Hammerstein Ballroom. The place is filled with seasoned fans, but anyone new to the culture has been sufficiently brought up-to-speed by the marketing videos leading up the event. The stage is thick with VIPs: Budden’s Slaughterhouse crew, Eminem, as well as Dizaster, Aye Verb, Big T and the rest of the participants in the Road to Total Slaughter competition.
Organik, Poison Pen and Smack are in the building and have a hard time getting backstage because of all the people in the crowd stopping them for photos and to give daps.
The crowd reacts through the undercard battles, the biggest reaction coming when Daylyt punks a drunk fan in the audience who tries heckle him. His “Don’t Do Dat” rebuttal becomes widely referenced by sports commentators and he becomes an unlockable character in the 2015 edition of NBA Jam.
But back to the main event. The lights dim and the room goes silent when Eminem walks on stage, introducing “hip-hop superstar Joe Budden” and “the best battle rapper alive, Hollow Da Don.” The crowd hoots generously for both.
Budden starts but has to stop after his first line because the crowd is cheering like crazy. He deserves all of it. He continues once they settle down, hitting hard with some original wordplay and heavy punchlines that the crowd loves, taking angles against Hollow that have even the veterans nodding in approval.
Hollow’s material goes over perfectly with fans both new and old. The judges (Organik, Smack and Eminem) make the right decision, though most long-time battle fans call it a debateable classic and 2-1 either way. The battle is a major hit in the hip-hop community and is hailed as Battle of the Year across the board.
Battling’s surge in popularity brings new infrastructure, with ESPN, Deadspin and Pitchfork all hiring battle rap experts to break down battles and explain backstories. This ushers in an age of new, enlightened fans who debate passionately with facts to back up their arguments. All battlers are judged on the individual merit of their content and performance, not on their reputation.
The attention brings in major sponsorships for leagues, allowing them to book pretty much anyone. Budden’s success means more established MCs are willing to step into the ring, eroding the division between battle rapper and industry rapper. Smack sets up a “URL vs Wu-Tang” card in Staten Island while KOTD presents “All In” featuring:
Dizaster vs Eminem
Illmaculate vs Kendrick Lamar
Hitman Holla vs Busta Rhymes
Daylyt vs Kool Keith
Caustic vs Lord Jamar
Bender vs RA the Rugged Man
Notez vs Lil Wayne
Soul Khan vs Dumbfoundead
Every one of the battles is a classic.
Or, you know, Total Slaughter could just be an ok event leading to no real changes. Time will tell.
Check our recap of KOTD’s Vendetta 2.
And our interview with Joe Cutter.