Bars Over Names


In an interview with VladTV, Loaded Lux was asked to name his top five rap battles of all time.  Lux thought for a minute while carefully gathering his thoughts and said that Kool Moe Dee and Busy Bee are definitely in his top 5 because that battle changed Battle Rap from who could rock the party into who was the better rapper.  Thirty years ago in the spring of 1983, Charlie Ahearn released the movie Wild Style.  Filmed in the summer of 1980, it is classified as the first Hip-Hop film.  In Wild Style there is a scene at a club in the South Bronx called Club Dixie, where breakers from the Rock Steady Crew, party patrons, and MCs congregate in a smoke-filled sweatbox dimly lit by red lights.  The nostalgic ambiance is reminiscent of a Jamel Shabazz photo from his book Back In The Days, a collection of photographs that pay homage to 1980’s New York City street fashion.  Among Club Dixie’s street conscious couture of bucket hats, furry Kangols, Cazal’s, track suits, Pumas and 501s, the Fantastic Freaks faced off with the Cold Crush Brothers and Busy Bee faced off with Rodney Cee, in a battle to see who can rock the party.  With verses laden with tag lines to get partygoers hyped like “Everybody, somebody, say hoooo!” it’s undeniable that early battles were truly performance driven.  But in the winter of 1981 at Harlem World, that would all change when Kool Moe Dee stepped up to the mic and challenged the more popular Busy Bee, Moe Dee unleashed a barrage of personal attacks at Busy in flawless poetic form.  After that battle, gone were the days of MCs battling without devising clever wordplay to attack one another lyrically.  According to Lux, this turning point was the premise that started what we know today as Battle Rap.  Comparatively, today Battle Rap is at a turning point.  A new breed of MCs who are all about bars vs an elite class of MCs who rely heavily on the legacy of their names and who have also conformed their craft to fit the business module of commercial Battle Rap.

Summer Madness 3′s unofficial theme is aptly entitled Bars Over Names. Smack released a vlog that expressed his disappointment of the quality of top-tier battles that haven’t been living up to the hype surrounding them.  The URL machine has a reputation of delivering some of the best battles in Battle Rap and in order to continue in this tradition Smack made the bold move of making SM3 an event that focuses solely on the quality of battles and not the big names that sell out venues.  Smack is addressing a growing narrative in the Battle Rap community that is becoming hard to ignore.  That narrative was best illustrated in a vlog Big Kannon made, where the usually vlog-shy MC, is atypically transparent about his frustrations of the commercialization of Battle Rap, and how money and a growing fan base has effected the way MCs approach their craft.  To Kannon, Battle Rap is becoming diluted and watered down because of its growth as a major industry.  Math Hoffa, a Battle Rap veteran, responded to Kannon’s vlog offering an opposing view that brought to light Kannon’s naiveté regarding how Battle Rap functions as it relates to marketing and branding yourself as a battle rapper in this era of change.  When big money comes into the picture the business will always dictate how the art is approached, and not the other way around.  As the old adage goes, if it don’t make dollars it don’t make sense.  If anything, Kannon’s honesty in his vlog forces MCs and fans to choose where they stand on this issue.

I commend Smack and the URL staff for putting their reputations on the line in order to bring fans great match-ups but the lineup and the buildup to SM3 is less than exciting.  Let’s dissect this.

1.  Smack initially stated in a vlog that he is trying something new and releasing the trailers for SM3 up until the date of the event, which is uncommon for the URL.  Instead, the very same night that he made that announcement, he released the entire SM3 card via Instagram, which came across as a hasty decision to re-gain the trust of skeptical fans about their uncertainties of the battles scheduled to be on the card.  If the URL is pushing the theme Bars Over Names, an event that is not filled with big names, then the promotion of this has to generate excitement in order for fans to buy into the theme.

2.   I have to be honest and say that I’m not sure how SM3 will turn out.  The matches seem mismatched and randomly thrown together: Arsonal vs K-Shine, JC vs JJDD.  This may be due, in large measure, to the fact that a lot of battles that fans wanted to see like, Aye Verb vs Swave Sevah and B-Magic vs Conceited, may never happen because of top-tier MCs ducking battles.   Not to mention, Loaded Lux and Murda Mook’s asking rate was a combined $70,000, a rate that URL isn’t willing to pay, according to one of Norbes’ tweets. For these reasons, this may be partly why the card reads the way it does.

3.   There has also surprisingly been very little promotion.  Smack stated that he designed it this way so that streets wouldn’t be inundated with fans trying to get into the venue.  The last time this happened was at Armageddon, and the Community Board along with the police precinct in that neighborhood had the venue cancel Armageddon the day of the event.  This is clearly not the URL’s fault but now it has become the URL’s problem.  Figuring out ways to market an event like Summer Madness (arguably the biggest event in Hip-Hop today) without drawing large crowds, is a large task in itself.  I think that the card and the trailers should have been released earlier.  I’m quite sure some of the newer MCs on this card are under a lot of pressure to live up to fan’s expectations and a seemingly unfocused marketing strategy that fails to gain fan’s interest in these battles, creates a dark cloud of doubt over the success of this event.

4.   Then there is the sudden and unexplained $25 ticket increase from $75 to $100.  Why is this?  Especially, since there are no VIP tickets being sold (with the exception of early bird tickets) and the card isn’t filled with marquee talent.  If by chance SM3 turns out to be a classic, the URL staff has either got luck of the Irish or they are actually innovative, precocious businessmen that people have underestimated.

As unpredictable as this card is, this may be the most important Summer Madness to date, with regard to what it means for the future of Battle Rap.  There is still opportunity for classic material and if this lineup succeeds in accomplishing this I believe that it will usher in a new standard of battling for MCs to achieve.  As quickly as performance became the key component to garner views and win battles it can easily become not as important on September 8th if the MCs on this card can make the impact.  Like that cold winter’s night in 1981 at Harlem World when Kool Moe Dee’s performance ushered in a new era of how battles were done, the MCs on the SM3 card are in a position to do the exact same thing.


© Copyright Eddie Savoy Bailey III, 2013
Written by: Eddie Bailey of The Savoy Media Group

Twitter @BttleRapHistory & @SavoyMediaGroup

Email: [email protected]


#WritingBattleRapHistory #WBRH


  • Anonymous

    These old “legends” of battle rap are letting greed f their financial future up. Theres money to be made but they want it all at once. IMO the battlers on this card bring there A game almost everytime and deserve being apart of SM3. As for lux and mook askin for that kinda money.. it doesnt make any sense. Its all about valuation. Yes, you will sell out the venue..but it will be sold out without you…yes, youll bring in over a million views… But some of these battles will too…so why would the url staff pay you that kinda money if they dont have to? Also the math doesnt work! if the venue only fits 800 ppl thats 80k from ticket sales MAX!! Even with alcohol included the valuation doesnt make sense to me right now. Mook should be happy with what he got last time he is definately not worth even that rt now. I think lux has the ability to takeover battle rap as one of the best lyricists and performers but thats still yet to be seen he only had one match and even that was pretty close in the first 2 rounds.

    I agree with the article. I think the battlers on this card have an opportunity to become the new legends. They have been battling for a while now and have only gotten better over time. Im hopin to see some shit never seen before.

    • url judge

      I agree with everything you said except for these rappers bringing their A game all the time. Math doesn’t always bring his A game and if stealing every other rappers bars is JJDD’s A game then he needs to retire now. I honestly feel that SMACK could have gotten a way better opponent for swave then daylyte. Big kannon should also be on the card, he is a problem

    • North

      Lol, the Lux battle wasn’t close at all. Lux clearly, clearly won. Not just won, whipped his ass, terribly. And Lux has had more than one battle, and anyone with an ability to apprehend can see that Lux is worth the money. Mook, nope. The rest of the battlers are somewhat boring and played out.

    • AcesClick215

      These old “legends” battled for free on Smack for a while and just want to even it out. Am not mad at them but I also think URL is getting bigger than the names cause I don’t see none of these so called top tiers cracking million views in other leagues recently. Con, DNA, Ars, Rex, etc been battling all over these leagues and are not getting as many views as they do on the URL stage

  • Eddie Bailey

    i appreciate the comment, Anonymous

  • url judge

    My predictions for SM3

    o-red vs big T……..big T 2-1 although this will most likely bebthe most debatable battle of the night

    calico vs t rex…….calico 2-1 rex has been ass lately and calico knows he has to redeem himself after getting sonned by lux

    arsonal vs k shine…..k shine 3-0 zip em up. Arsonal has been trash for a while now and seems to always spit 3 rounds of filler. Hollow was right when he said ars doesnt rap competitive anymore

    math vs serious jones…..are you kidding? Jones 5-0

    jc vs JJDD……JC 2-1 it really depends on which jc shows up though. I didnt like his performance against ill. If john john says another multiple choice scheme or uses somebody elses bars AGAIN he automatically lost

    Tay rock vs ill will……i don’t know, this one is kind of unpredictable

    daylyt vs swave……swave 100-0 why the fuck is daylyt on the card again?

    • Eddie Bailey

      My prediction is that most of the battles will be debatable with the exception of JJDD and JC. I have JC with the clear win

    • myian barnes

      your predictions seem pretty good besides the Math battle. Pretty sure Math eats Jones, his style is out dated. He will be good for a few jokes here and there and rebuttals but BAR wise, it’s a no contest. Math 2-1

      • url judge

        Well we just disagree then. I think people tend to forget what certain rappers have done and are capable of when they are not on the scene for a while. With the exception of jones 2nd round against clips, he has never disappointed me. Math on the other hand has had some sub par performances here and there.

        But we will see what happens eventually, we never really know whats gonna happen until it happens

  • D’Angelo Richardson

    70,000K those cats ain’t worth that.

  • Timey

    Who did Daylyt suck off to get on this card? Oh yea Norbes! Smh. This card is all over the place. Good luck Smack you gonna need it…

    • Eddie Bailey

      I think Day will surprise everyone and really show up

  • jimmy two fingaz

    Looks like smack ran out of good ny battle rappers the midwest would have took over sm3

  • Gunslinging Joe

    I wish I was in the position to start a league right this minute and put together some battles because it definitely some battles I would like to see. It seems like its the same dudes battling in the URL. And after everyone battles everyone. What happens next? I’m an avid Battle Rap watcher and love the culture. So if your talking bars over names. It’s plenty of dudes I’ve seen battle via YouTube and other sites, or in other leagues that have plenty of bars but are not really known because they can’t get battles really or other dudes are scared to battle. I’m kind disappointed with this card to be honest. Plus we still haven’t seen a “trailer” as promised. Big T vs O Red will be entertaining. Calicoe vs T Rex. Idk. Cals Last battle against Daylyt sucked. Ars Vs K Shine. Idk. K Shine vs Big T, K did not show up. Math vs Serius. Hopefully these two vets stepped their game up. Should be good. JC vs JJDD. I’m sure JC will be ready as always. And I agree, nomore multiple choice and we’ll be good. Tay Rock n Ill Will should be good. These two are both agressive with the bars. And I have no idea why Daylyt is even on this card. Smh. Hopefully it won’t be a repeat of Swave vs O Solo. As far and Mook n Lux wanting all this money. Start killing these other battle rappers first. Then maybe you’ll be worth it. SM2 They both haven’t battled since. Supposed to be the best? Then prove it. You want all this money like a Pop Star every bar better be fire. Hopefully Sm3 will be an overall classic. But let’s get some fresh faces and dudes that are hungry. Then maybe we’ll have Bar over Names.

    • Eddie Bailey

      I hear ya, Joe!

    • North

      Lux already proved he’s worth his asking price.

  • North

    For the fool that said SMACK is running out of good NY battlers and needs Midwest rappers…..lmaooo!! No. And bars over names? Hey SMACK, guess what, Lux has the best bars and biggest name. You put calicoe on the card? Calicoe doesn’t have (good) bars. He’s average at best. SMACK slipped, yet again.

  • God Aweful

    The hate for this card is confusing. There are only two iffy battles K-Shine vs Arsonal and Serius vs Math and these are the battles with the biggest names. I don’t care what people say, the Arsonal that battled Verb didn’t have a bunch of filler (pointless bars) and imo he beat Verb. Now if that Arsonal shows up and K Shine the murdered DNA shows up, it could be a pretty good battle. To me, Math has only been really nice once and that is when he battled Arsonal. He has watered that down by taking too many battles but if you haven’t noticed he hasn’t battled since Daylyt. He has a history with Serius so he might make it interesting on his end and I hope Serius has shaken off the rust because he is slept on now but probably one of the greatest ever for us older battle heads.

    Big T and O Red is a great battle and I have Red slightly winning. Calicoe and Rex makes a lot of sense if you look at their style… that as a great battle too, but I got Rex winning. JC vs JJDD might be the best battles of the night. I know JJDD remixes other people’s styles but he is nice on his own, hopefully he shows that again like he did against X Factor. JC went lite against Ill but I suspect he was taking too many battles and needed a second wind and since the Il battle, he has been amazing again. Tay Rock vs Ill Will is also a great match up… I have Ill Will winning but Tay Rock is going to put a crazy fight imo.

    Daylyt and Swave…. to be honest this battle makes way more sense then it looks on paper. People hate Daylyt’s bullshit and they want someone to really put him is place. Swave’s specialty is to pull people’s card or to take things we already know but put it all together to make you look at his opponent’s differently. At the same time people love Daylyt’s bars… well the people that catch his bars, but that is another angle in this battle between complex bars and real talk. Which reminds me of another battle. IMO, the biggest highlight in Swave’s career is the body of QP (S.O.N.S.). Then here comes another issue, part of Swave’s angle was sonning QP, but can he son Daylyt? Is Daylyt going to be up in his face like Philly Swain? Is Daylyt going to win the crowd over with his humor if the bars go over their heads? This battle is going to dope and probably the most talked about battle from the event. Stop hating.

    What is really weird though… neither of the two SM events before this one produced more than 2-3 hot battles. The names don’t guarantee good battles.

  • rizer

    that tay roc vs ill will go be the best battle

    • Eddie Bailey

      That’s the battle I’m most excited about, too! I think that will be a dog fight

  • UjustS

    I’ve been reading/watching a lot of material on the state of battle rap lately from the Mickey Facts Untold Truth..JayBlac’s bars over everything drop..the Kannon blog..and now this piece and I couldn’t agree more with all of them. I read/try to read ALL or as many of the comments on battles, blogs and reviews as I can to see how the “people’ feel because lots of times i feel a certain way about the happenings in a battle and think is it just me?? From what I’ve seen majority are together on how things are. Probably a weak analogy or won’t make sense and I’m not gonna say everything I want to in this comment, but i compare the progression of battle rap to how i saw Wayne’s first 3 Carter CD’s. The first Carter is my personal fav because I felt hunger, not for money or fame per say but to prove he was the best rapper which made it a classic in my book. He rapped his ass off on that CD and I don’t like to use the tern “no debating” but at one point Wayne was the best to me “no debating”. Carter2 comes out he has the game roped off, more confidence/polished up swag with lyrics to back it up, so it’s highly anticipated and the mixtapes are making claim of best rapper alive a legit one. Then Carter3 drops and I’m like WTF?? It was the ole’ DJ snatching the needle off the record type moment for me. I didn’t feel the same hunger, seemed like he was just lazy with the pen..kind of a I can say whatever type attitude pushing basic ass ryhmes because he knew regardless the fans were gonna support. I see a lot of top teir battlers in the same light as those CD’s. Back when dudes were battlng for free or way smaller paydays on the come up they were hurgry and wanted that #1 headband..for all the Afro Samurai heads. Then they came up some, as well as the culture. A few more hundred/thousand twitter followers here, quotables, bumps in the salary, big name celebs and sponsors over there, to quote Ghostface “we made it”. Now I get that same feeling from battle rap that the Carter3 gave me. I don’t have to come wit’ it like i used to, so what if i choke..if my bars are watered down or recycled because my fans rock with me heavy and I’m getting paid regardless of a good/bad performance I can go lite a round long s i get views. Thing is with a CD i can always preview before buying, stepping out to a event i don’t know what I’m gonna get until it happens. Kannon was right, all my favorite battles with the exception of Calicoe Vs. Ars were one offs, no Demarco, no large crowd. Just my opinions tho and echoing opinions I hear..I ain’t said nothing new. As for SM3 i hope it’s dope, in a way I like the matchups cause I wasn’t expecting a single one of em..I’m hoping every battle can give me that Danja/Nu Born feel. Hella nice article as usual I respect/appreciate ya journalism my G.

  • ms marjane

    yah.. i don’t think im flyin out for this. there’s really nothing here to see live. i wish there were another battle organized, with a better spread of battles, a fresher set of battlers, and some hungry legends.. maybe next year.

  • Gee

    I’m glad smacc went with this card.. Fucc all dat performance and fan favorite shit.. I wanna hear nuthin but real street barz.. Fucc dat dumbed down dna and Charlie clips style ofbattling.. That shit basic and wacc.. Con ok but I’m glad he not battling unless its Magic.. Con style is more witty/Clever than barz.. He can be basic and predictable at times too and I guess that’s why he aint take the magic battle.. I kno he ducced magic cuz smacc said everybody did and I’m sure they suggested Con vs Magic cuz dass classic matieral .. Ie: smacc plz no Clips and dna on URL ever again..dey have a lot if dicc riders defending they 3rd grade wordplay and Pre school setups..they killing URL in my opinion

  • Aubrey OVO

    Niggas bitchin about wanting to see Con vs B Magic. Go watch Heartless vs B Magic. If B Magic can’t fuck with Con’s lil nigga, how can he fuck with Con?

  • lovefortheart

    I’m dissapointed in the card, for the price to be raised to $100 and me being a fan since the DVD’s and being at the last summer madness. Like my favorite Top 5(Loaded Lux, Hollow Da Don, Tsu Surf, Conceited, DNA) ain’t even on the card at all. Me and my boys are definitely sitting this one out.

  • Smack is on smack

    Why bring your A game if smack not even gonna drop the battle he might put it in the vault like a fuck boy

  • rns

    Them old mc’s thirsty, lux choked and mook sounded watered down, I wouldn’t dare think about paying that. Personally I would’ve like to see k shine-hitman holla (not Hollywood holla), t-rex-charlie clips, serious jones vs lux, arsenal-tay roc, surf-calicoe and rest as is.

  • SpiT

    Smack i should SMACK your ass for showcasing swave vs thongman(daylyt) fuk iz u smok-n..


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