Are There Enough Bricks To Build A Home ?

Over the course of Rare Breed Entertament’s (RBE) 10 years of existence, now going on 11 years, we’ve seen them grow and evolve and take on many different identities. 

The early stages are defined by names like Rosenberg Raw. Watching names like Showoff, Jimz, Mr. Mills, Ooops, and Ahdi Boom find a home there. Seeing the Writer’s Bloque contingent produce high level content there against each other and whoever else they stood in front of. What I would call the “Math Hoffa” era of RBE, where the company seemed to build the storylines around the Brooklyn legend. The Straight To It series of events following the heights of COVID with cards that were essentially mysteries until the reports poured in on what battles went down. All the way down to the Blue Room era of ‘22 and ‘23, where RBE found lightning in a bottle and could ride that way into their most successful and critically acclaimed year to date. 

But despite all of that success, ARP announced his retirement and decision to fall back from major streamed PPVs. At the heights of their popularity, we’re watching RBE have to refine its identity once more. And that unfortunately leaves the talent in the Brick/Intake process in a tricky situation.

RBE has always been an island of misfit toys of sorts. With talent who left URL for various reasons, whether it was having discrepancies with the league or just not having their tenure on the platform work out. And some people could view that as RBE working with “scraps” or “rejects”, but RBE made its bones off of these people and ultimately became a place that revitalized many careers. The JC buzz that led to his URL return in 2017 is largely due to his work on RBE during his time away from URL. It became a home for people to find their comfort zones and get major opportunities. Look at examples like Showoff vs Math or Jimz vs Cortez or Ahdi Boom vs Goodz. It’s a league that made the most of the talent they had to build with.

But the topic of what the current young talent on RBE is supposed to be working towards, has been a hotly discussed topic for the last week, with some battlers who were formerly part of the Brick process speaking out on how it was operated and what felt like a lack of direction. And I’ll be honest, from the outside looking in, I had a lot of the same thoughts about the way things were looking. But in speaking with Winged, the person overseeing the development process at RBE, I left the conversation feeling like there was a bit more clarity on the status of certain issues.

Ramifications Of Retirement

One of my concerns was something brought up by PAYNE during his recent interview run: he wasn’t informed of any decision by ARP to step away from live streaming. That was the impetus in wanting to speak to Winged, as well as trying to get more concise answers on other lingering questions because it wasn’t clear if that was something all the homegrown talent in RBE dealt with or if that was an isolated issue. When asked about PAYNE’s comment and if the Bricks were informed about ARP’s retirement, she said that the Bricks were told and that if PAYNE didn’t know, it’s not their responsibility to tell him since he removed himself from the Brick process long ago.

It’s a blunt answer but also one I couldn’t help but feel was fair. And maybe PAYNE’s point was more about his relationship with ARP directly, but it made my ears perk up enough to want to ask about it. PAYNE has achieved the highest level of success thus far of the people who got labeled as Bricks, but in his own words he took himself out of the Brick process after his Big Kannon battle. That was two years ago. So it does feel a little odd for a lot of what’s happening now to be so attached to someone who admittedly removed himself from the system a long time ago. And I don’t know the level of interaction he and Winged had after that as PAYNE continued to rise on RBE so I can’t speak to or dismiss any of his feelings on her. 

Kausion Leaving The Bricks

Another name who made their way through the Bricks to develop a significant buzz is Kausion. Kausion came onto the scene, made a name for herself very quickly, and rode that momentum into being the Rookie of the Year and making it to the finals of the Chrome 23 tournament. 

Things got bumpy there and from then on. Kausion wasn’t dominating competition the same way anymore, and it was noticeable; it’s something, as a staff at LTBR, we observed for a while. Kausion and Winged had issues that seemed to stem from an ideological clash. Winged noticed whatever changes in Kausion and felt like she was beginning to regress and stall out and urged her to make changes to stay ahead of the game. Kausion was under the belief that she was doing her job and that changes weren’t necessary, according to Winged. 

With how much of a rookie Kausion was, while I do understand Winged’s perspective, I also believe sometimes bad stretches happen in battle rap. When you are in charge of development, the frustration of feeling someone you are investing time and resources in isn’t taking it as seriously as you do is valid. But sophomore slumps are a thing in sports once people have the gameplan for you, and what Kausion experienced could be viewed as that. The battle rap disagreements are one aspect of this, but other behind-the-scenes aspects led to Kausion’s removal from the process, some of which Kausion has alluded to in her interviews about the topic. Ultimately though, this isn’t an issue rooted in just one thing, but plenty of contributing factors building to the break up

Struggling to Garner Attention

The lack of buzz that it feels has largely been around the Bricks has made people question, what exactly is the end goal of the process? Especially in the aftermath of ARP’s step back. From the outside looking in, it’s easy to look at ARP’s decision for no major streaming as not caring about the signed talent, but according to Winged, ARP has always been hands-off with that particular branch of things and that the times we saw Bricks on some of ARP’s own streams it was more to “stamp” them. At points, hearing Winged speak on the Brick process almost sounded like it was more of a consulting and development program, but Winged did clarify that the goal is to create the next stars of RBE, and to an extent, it did. Regardless of how things started to unfold, there have been success stories. PAYNE, Kausion, Remedy Loko, and Coach Corleone are all testaments of the process being something that works and being able to find gems.

People have questioned the lack of streamed events the Bricks have received, and rightfully so because streamed events do garner much more attention than VOD drops seem to, and if the goal is to push these new battlers to the forefront and get the most eyes on them, that is the most optimal way to do so. In regards to that, Winged offered some insight, saying streamed events have always been discussed, but other issues on the back end kept the streams from happening, not a lack of motivation or desire. We were also told that starting with the Battle Academy joint show, there will be several more RBE-branded shows on live stream for the rest of the year in an attempt to see if the most conducive approach really is live streaming. In speaking to Winged, she clearly takes a lot of pride in what she’s attempting to do at RBE, and she left our conversation stating the goal she has for this year is to make so much noise with what the Bricks are doing that it makes ARP want to come back.

This might not be the salacious, brutal takedown some people might want when discussing this topic, but the more I sat with this story and gathered my thoughts, the more I came away with a level of patience that made me rethink some of my prior criticisms. I can’t say the Bricks don’t try to promote; they do. We’ve had Bricks reach out to us to want us to cover events. We’ve had Bricks ask us what they could do differently to get more eyes on their product. I don’t think it’s a lack of effort from anyone involved. 

But RBE has become home to mega battles, and I do feel a lot of people who came around in the last year and a half only started to pay attention to the mega cards. RBE doesn’t have the reputation of a new talent-building place, in part because the Brick process is new. Stuff like 1SKs existed prior, but that was before there was a true system in place. This has only existed for two years now, and in those two years, it wouldn’t be fair to say that they’ve been unsuccessful at building talent. For better or for worse, RBE is still the land of misfit toys who found a home. It’s also not a place where battlers have their first battles. Places like OSBL or iBattle are open to having people do their first battles EVER on their platforms.

Acquiring and Developing Talent In Battle Rap.

The reality is that the first choice of most rising talent would be to perform on URL, and because of that, URL gets the first pick of a lot of rising stars. PAYNE and Zay both participated in The Crucible before being selected for the Brick process for example. It’s like people who grow up wanting to be professional wrestlers or mixed martial artists. Of course, there are people who are interested in taking the road less traveled, but for the most part, anyone who takes up those professions grew up wanting to be in the WWE or UFC. The same applies to battle rap, and because of that, the scouting job gets even tougher. There are people that I’d have been booking or selected if I had a say, but we also don’t know the circumstances behind things and if people have turned down battles on the platform, so I won’t do too much Monday morning quarterbacking. 

It’s a new system that realistically has a more challenging job because of the talent pool they have to pull from. And that’s not to knock anyone and say they can’t rap. Here at LTBR we cover leagues no matter how big or small and give fair chances to lesser established names. So it’s not a bias that this is said with; it’s just the nature of the market. As the Brick process begins to have some tenure, maybe it does become more and more a sought-after route for up-and-comers. In the same way, the longer AEW exists, the more you’ll have people whose goal is to wrestle there. But that takes time, patience, and a little work with a potentially limited roster.

The Brick process is far from perfect. I’m sure there are plenty of things about it that we still don’t know, and there will be battlers who voice more complaints about their time there. But we should be fair to them. How often have we heard battlers voice frustration with the PG process years prior or now with the Crucible? It’s not something unique to RBE, and it shouldn’t be treated as such. This is just the first time they’ve had to deal with anything like this during this era, and it won’t be the last. But they should be afforded the patience to succeed or fail. Maybe the pool is too shallow, and they won’t find anything to stick with this talent. But perhaps they will. The reality is we don’t know, and we have to let it exist. And maybe one day, we’ll see enough Bricks stacked together to build a home. 

Leave a Comment

Scroll to Top