Local MCs show their skills at “Battle of the Beats”
Published: Monday, October 8, 2012
Updated: Monday, October 8, 2012 18:10
A long line of students congregated outside the University Student Union ballrooms Thursday as the evening drew near for the Battle of the Beats, an event featuring students lyrically battling to be declared the best MC.
After the ballrooms were transformed into a concert venue, attendees trickled in feeling as energetic as the booming music. In the background, performers practiced their moves and lyrics before going onstage.
Once the lights dimmed, Corey Ann Lucas, the host for the event, introduced himself and warmed up the audience with his humor and wit.
EJay, a New York native who moved out to Los Angeles and began his own hip-hop group, The First Class, started the night off with a boom. EJay rapped an original track, “Good Morning,” and encouraged audience participation. After his performance, Greater Than, an all-female part of The First Class, performed their songs. The ladies’ colorful attire and funky musicality captivated the audience.
The judges of the night were James Milbry, a former Interscope Records employee; Quiz, a local artist from Los Angeles; and Christopher Soto, a Cal State Long Beach student who teaches hip-hop and rap in juvenile detention centers.
Two participants from a pool of 14 MCs were selected randomly and were each given a minute to lyrically battle each other.
The first set of competitors, G and Weapon X, started off the night with promise as each MC gave a glimpse of their talents. At the end their performances, Lucas asked the audience to choose their favorite by how loud the audience cheered. The judges sometimes gave constructive criticism.
By the second round, the list of competitors were narrowed down to six MCs. Some competitors stepped up their performances and attacked their competitor, taking Milbry’s advice. After the six performed, the judges decided who would move on to the final round.
Once Lucas announced the finalists, Weapon X and Locust, the two stepped onstage for their final chance at proving who was best. Each were given 35 seconds to freestyle. Weapon X won the first round but lost the following. The judges and audience were unable to call a winner, and a tiebreaker round was arranged. To raise the stakes, the round called for an acapella performance, and they were given 45 seconds. Locust was eventually declared the winner of the battle.
Pepe Locs, also known as stage name Locust, said he was proud to win the battle being a Long Beach native and plans to continue his music endeavors.
“The only other threat I saw was that other cat that I went head to head with in the end,” Locust said. “So I think it turned out pretty fair. I’m going to follow this passion of mine with music. I got a lot of stuff that Long Beach has yet to hear, and I think they’ll be proud to know I’m Long Beach’s own.”
Despite the low expectations some may have had about the rap battle, those who came out were exposed to a creative outlet that isn’t commonly found in the mainstream. The Battle of the Beats proved to be a successful event that is sure to gain a greater following in future years.