Photographs By @hmtwnherojpg
Dope In The Pen Recap (Main Card)
Bullpen took its show on the road once more, bringing an action-packed card to Oakland, California. While the event was initially hyped on paper, it suffered from several unfortunate cancellations due to miscommunication and business discrepancies. We lost battles like Calicoe vs Pass & Charlie Clips vs Rum Nitty which took away some of its anticipated excitement. For those in attendance at the venue, the experience seemed to be enjoyable, but for viewers watching the pay-per-view stream from home, it felt somewhat underwhelming, and a dragged-out experience.
The majority of the night was battles from the undercard, which primarily featured the Top Bull tournament, which was typically where John John Da Don had discovered unique and promising talents in various cities. However, this time, the Oakland auditions didn’t yield any standout stars. Nonetheless, the three battles featured on the main card still provided some entertainment value, though it might not have fully justified the price for the pay-per-view. Despite the challenges, the effort of the emcees who showed up to perform was commendable.
The mishaps of the events left much for the event to be desired but it doesn’t diminish the fact that Bullpen has been having an outstanding year and has put on many events all across the country. But there needs to be a more efficient level of communication and transparency
LTBR Staff Writer: France | J Smo
We will be introducing our new rating system for individual battles. Similar to the 5 Mics concept, We will give a 5-star rating per battle on the card. ☆☆☆☆☆
Yoshi G vs Viixen
3.25☆ Rating (Recapped by France)
A fun style clash of two ladies who are perineally featured on WOTY lists or featured on some of the biggest cards in female battle rap. In the first round of Yoshi G vs. Viixen, Yoshi’s set the tone for the battle with a solid performance. What was immediately evident was her refined projection and presence on stage. She found the happy medium for being able to project and perform without overly forcing the aggression, Yoshi maintained a controlled energy that helped convey her message effectively. This balance allowed her to land a series of subtle jabs and crafty punchlines, she opens the battle pretty much letting Viixen know anything you are going to say to me, can apply to you too. Although there weren’t any massive haymakers in this round, it was clear that Yoshi had a solid enough round to compete. Viixen, on the other hand, faced a stumble in her first round, which unfortunately disrupted her momentum and hindered her ability to build up intensity over the course of the round. Viixen had some dope lines but the hiccup prevented her from reaching her full potential in the first round, Yoshi starts the battle in control of the scoreboard. 1-0
2nd round, Yoshi continued to stay at the consistent level of performance of the 1st round. Once again, she delivered a solid round, maintaining the same level of energy and projection that characterized her 1st round. Some good angle punches, good wordplay, subtle sneaky double entendre Viixen, however, had a standout moment in the second round, arguably delivering her best round of the battle. She skillfully crafted an effective angle that revolved around Yoshi’s motherhood and the struggles she faced with her children. While this may be a common angle always used against Yoshi, sometimes in battle rap, the relatability of the topic can easily resonate with the crowd. Her round was not only filled with powerful angle punchlines but also a direct attack that really made you say, Damn Viixen is talking to her. Viixen ties up the score. 1-1
The third round of Yoshi G vs. Viixen presented a preference-based competitive round, as both rappers delivered strong performances. Yoshi kicked off her round with two impressive rebuttals, showcasing her underrated skill as a rebuttaler. Yoshi’s third round was arguably her best, particularly from a writing perspective. She got to her punchlines more swiftly and at a more rapid pace, showing proficiency in the structure. Yoshi then finds some clever rhyming pockets that captivate the room’s attention. However, she encountered a slight hiccup when she had to rerun a section due to the crowd’s enthusiastic reaction. This minor interruption didn’t detract from the overall quality of her round.
Viixen, in contrast, had a somewhat slower start in the third round but gradually found her footing with her signature chain-punching style. As she began to heat up, her performance kicked into high gear, and she closed the round with some good punches that shook the room. She had a fun segment of getting descriptive of what she would do to Yoshi in the bedroom to lead into a punchline about all those same promiscuous details relating to her being kidnapped. There were some dry spots in the round but her Her late-round resurgence with a few harder-hitting punchlines to close the round out. Ultimately, the third round is a debatable one i edge this round to Yoshi, with both Yoshi and Viixen delivering memorable moments, leaving the audience to decide who emerged as the victor in this entertaining battle.
Loso vs Danny Myers
2.75☆ Rating (Recapped By J-Smo)
Danny vs Loso a clash of pens that simply you expect good material from. While both are known for their consistency, battling back-to-back is extremely hard for any battler, and fatigue played a factor on both sides of this battle, due the possible time limits. Also worth mentioning there were clear and very disruptive mic issues before and early in the battle, a tough situation for any pair of battlers to perform through. From the 1st round, you can see early Danny was cooking but at a moderate level, and it felt as if he was just hitting his stride his round was cut. Didn’t seem to be from memory just simply a 90-ish round, still landed some clever lines like his Mormon/More men punch and a couple of other jabs. Loso 1st is similar in terms of being fair but having minimal high points, with some of his best material coming from his own biblical references. The difference to me was some turbulence in Loso’s round, stumbles that seemed to lead to a lack of confidence in delivery. Close but weak round, I had Danny 1-0.
Danny starts his 2nd with a powerful rebuttal, giving him a haymaker head start, his 2nd rebuttal being decent but not as impactful. This set the pace early for a much better round, Danny rapping in more pockets and landing heavier back-to-back punches. His Stairway To Heaven Haymaker is an example of the much more high-level 2nd round. Loso takes a more angle-heavy approach in the 2nd, starting with an angle about Danny meeting some of his kids at events and how Battle Rap affects his life, a common approach vs Danny. Attacking him for over-battling, his wife’s addiction, and breaking down his style Loso round peaks at the close with his 2 Legit to Quit bar that lands as a bomb. Much better and still debatable round, I found myself liking the consistency of Danny’s 2nd more but the end of Loso’s round gives a fair argument for it to be potentially 1-1.
Danny 3rd once again opens with a heavy rebuttal, this time to Loso MC Hammer haymaker he ended with. He has good drug bars, and punches, and gives you a solid and standard Danny round, not his best but a competitive round at the least as he almost always has. Even had a solid Parallel Universe bar near the end for the full experience. Loso’s 3rd round is solid too, pen-heavy with a pendant and cleaning scheme. The crowd became a little restless and made noise during the Loso round towards the back half of it, messing up the pacing a bit. Ending with a couple more angles assessing Danny’s career, it’s an okay round but in my opinion the clearest for Danny. I had Danny winning 2-1, you can argue the 3-0 edge with the 1st and 2nd being close. Okay battle, solid W for Danny in my opinion but no highlight reels from this battle.
John John Da Don vs Mistah Fab
2.25☆ Rating (Recapped by France)
The main event battle from Dope In The Pen, featuring John John Da Don and Mistah Fab, was a clash that mirrored some resemblance to John John’s battle with Jae Millz. A Main event against a battler from the early 2000s era with a bit of a familiar name, but a massive gap in experience. This marked Mistah Fab’s return to the battle rap scene after a significant hiatus. Mistah Fab’s battle rap resume dates back to the 2000s, with battles against Royce 5’9 & Jin. He has a few battles in the modern era against Arsonal & Charlie Clips, and this is his first time battling since 2016. Despite the long break, Mistah Fab showed he still had what it takes to entertain a crowd…for a few minutes. His performance leaned heavily on pandering to the audience, and then he transformed into a name-flip specialist, using all John wordplay. There is nothing wrong with name-flipping to death, some of the best active battlers right now do so, but there wasn’t any power behind the name-flips. Throughout the battle, Mistah Fab had a few standout lines that resonated with the crowd, demonstrating his adaptability and ability to connect with the hometown, but the pacing of his flows, the gears in his delivery & lack of depth in his punchlines for what a modern-era battle rapper sounds like on a stage, just isn’t there.
On the other side of the stage, John John Da Don proved to be fundamentally sound and showcased a higher level of depth in various aspects of battle rap. His performance was a testament to his experience and skills, as he had much better delivery, crowd control, punchlines, humor, and wordplay. John John just checked off every box. John John’s well-rounded approach allowed him to maintain a strong presence on the stage, winning over the crowd with his polished delivery and calculated punches. His ability to control the energy of the room and keep the audience engaged throughout the battle set him apart as a seasoned performer. John John’s performance in this main event battle solidified his reputation as a top-tier battle rapper, emphasizing his mastery of the craft and the evolution of his style to meet the demands of the modern era.