Bullpen: Politics As Usual

LTBR Award Recipients

Battle of the Night:  T-Top vs Chef Trez

Best Individual Performances of the night:
 #1 T-Top | #2 John John Da Don | #3  Tay Roc|

Judge Winners:
  Gwitty | T-Top | Tay Roc | Bad Newz | John John Da Don 

Preamble Written by France

First and foremost. Let’s introduce Mondale Robinson, because none of this would’ve been possible without him.

Mondale Robinson is the Mayor of Enfield North Carolina, he is also political strategist, activist, and the founder of the Black Male Voter Project. He has been actively involved in efforts to engage and mobilize Black men in the political process, mainly through voter registration and turnout initiatives. Robinson has spoken extensively on issues such as racial justice, voter suppression, and the importance of Black political participation. And for what it’s worth, it’s safe to say he is a political figure that you probably have never seen before!

He demonstrated his innovative approach to engaging communities often overlooked in traditional political outreach efforts. Robinson sparked a week of political awareness by inviting over 100 individuals from the battle rap community (From the rappers & people in the media) to learn about the origins and significance of voting reg. Understanding the influential role of the Battle Rap Community (BRC), he curated a comprehensive itinerary of workshops and knowledge-based events, complemented by social outings & a dinner to foster camaraderie. Recognizing the potential of figures in the BRC  to serve as catalysts for increased political literacy and awareness, Robinson aimed to empower them to become agents of change within their communities. Through this initiative, he sought to cultivate an organic group of influencers capable of spreading his message of political engagement and empowerment to those who may feel alienated or uncomfortable with traditional politics.

 I will say his best opportunity to continue to do this would be to build with some of the leaders of the battle rap culture who have been in the game for close to 2 decades. When a new power player with a massive bag enters the culture, there is always a level of embrace by the battlers for a new horizon, but at times, it’s always met with a few antennas pointed upward in curiosity or skepticism. We have seen people come into the culture time and time again. How long will Mondale be around? We will find out in the near future, but it’s clear that he loves the culture and wants to give back to all of the battlers.  

He aligned with John John Da Don to put together this event, where battle rappers received not only a massive purse but also money on the floor for judged battles, for an extra five-figure incentive for the winner. Some battles had up to $10,000 to $50,000 on the floor.  John John came together to bring a vision that was bigger than just himself and wanted to bring something to the table to push the culture forward and make the hard-working individuals and contributors of the culture feel honored for their efforts. 

Big salute to Geechi Gotti & 3lettaman on the commentary, Salute to Hitman Holla for hosting the event, salute to Mondale for making the culture feel welcomed and recognized for their hard work & salute to the Ruin Your Day team for producing a high-quality event. The only downfall of the event was that a few performers were a bit subpar, and one of the marquee matchups in Nu Jerzey Twork vs Clone lost. The card took a hit on one of the battles a lot of fans were anticipating seeing, but I want to take the time to wish Twork a speedy recovery. I did see John John say that the battle will be done soon, so we can still look forward to that battle happening in the near future.  


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.   ☆☆☆☆☆

Gwitty vs Superblack

1.75☆ Rating Recapped by Justin Smolenski

1st battle of the night, Gwitty vs. SuperBlack, immediately showed how serious the stakes were per battle, getting the battle’s stakes raised from 10 to 20K on the spot as the battler stepped on stage. Gwitty led off the battle, saying he started out good is an understatement. Landing 2 haymakers nearly instantly (Super Intendent and Mayor/Senate bars), Gwitty opened the night with a quick jolt of energy. His 1st got worse content-wise as it went, but all in all, Gwitty’s opening round was formidable. The door was somewhat open, but SuperBlack 1st wasn’t enough to take advantage; his weakest round and just overall delivered flatly with subpar bar quality. In one of the clear rounds of the battle, Gwitty started with a clear 1-0 lead. 

The 2nd, the most competitive round of the battle, picked up with Gwitty bombing again. It is something to witness, as his adlibs are ridiculous and kill the pace of the round, but the punches were good enough to get away with it. It may have been the best Gwitty has ever rapped in 2 consecutive rounds, and it almost ended perfectly if not for an egregious “pause” moment that derailed his momentum near the end of his round. SuperBlack took advantage, rebuttaling the moment using Gwitty’s slogans and swinging momentum in his direction. His 2nd was one big angle, a comedy angle at that, basically just calling Gwitty dirty the entire round. Absurdly enough, this is not the first time someone has taken this approach vs Gwitty, and even though he’s overdone, Super landed jokes effectively and had a much better round than his 1st. Debatable round, I found Gwitty’s consistency bar for the bar (you read that right) was just more on the attack and found himself with more of the high points of the round as well, edging him the round and putting him up 2-0 before the 3rd.  

The 3rd SuperBlack gets one back clear, having his best round content and performance-wise, an approach that may have been more effective across all three rounds trying to match Gwitty bar for bar. It’s not a bad 3rd from Gwitty, just a flipped version of the 1st. It’s a decent battle but with the crucial problem of being 1 hour plus long. No good reason for an opener battle, and damn near any struggle, to be this long in duration and will undoubtedly hurt the replay value. The judged vote (Chilla Jones, Aye Verb, and the RapGrid fan poll) unanimously had Gwitty, with the judges narrowly edging him in battle 2-1. Gwitty wins 20k to start the event. 

T-Top vs Chef Trez

4.0 ☆ Rating Recapped by Justin Smolenski​

One of the many top-tier matchups on the card, T-Top vs Chef Trez, started off on Trez 1st. Trez has been as consistent as it gets when it comes to high-level battle rap recently, and his 1st was another solid round to showcase this, very rarely bringing a flat or bad round. However, the reason Trez has gotten such an advanced amount of praise recently is the ability to be not just good but great when matched against top-tier competition, leading to some standout wins and high-level battles that have put his name in new conversations and ranks of Battle Rap. 

His 1st vs. T-Top, like some of his material vs. Clips, was a return to good writing but did not bring the energy off Rip, and it also felt a little bit short. However, whether his round was a little more impactful or not would not have mattered in front of T-Top’s 1st. TTop 1st is arguably the best round in the entire event, and it showed T-Top at his absolute peak. Creative Chef flips, performative in comedic and aggressive ways, haymakers and angles, flow switches, it’s more about what he did not do. It can be described simply as “levels,” and T-Top was up a monstrous 1-0 after the 1st

The 2nd started back with Trez and as one of the best rebuttalers currently and of all time, it’s almost expected that he will snatch the momentum back following Top’s round, which is precisely what happened. With a rebuttal to TTop’s Bobby Shmurda Haymaker from the 1st, Trez brought the building down and looked poised to have an explosive round when he really needed it. A better round, Trez felt the pressure, and while the raps got better, the key was upping the energy and aggression that was somewhat missing in the 1st. It was a borderline great round; Trez gave himself a good chance as long as TTop didn’t have another round like his 1st. Unfortunately for Trez, T-Top 2nd was just as good as his 1st, if not better. Once again, this time more angle-heavy, Top was landing what felt like every bar, mostly in haymaker fashion. Good vs Great, and Great may be an understatement for how good T-Top was two rounds in. Even with a good Chef Trez, T-Top was up a very loud 2-0. 

The 3rd is a great closeout, Trez giving a round much like his 2nd and completing a solid showing. But once again, and the story of the battle, TTop was just too good and completed the masterclass with another very good 3rd, maybe a small dip under his 1st 2, but still fantastic. In terms of a complete showing, having something good to great all three rounds, this is up there with some of T-Top’s best work in his career and, at the very least, his best showing of the last few years. In the most elite of form, TTop swept the judge results and won himself the 30k on the floor, much deserved for what would easily be the performance of the night and possibly even battle of the night. Good Trez, but for the first time in a while, he takes a clear L, and TTop adds to an almost perfect start to his 2024. 


Tay Roc vs Loso

3.75 ☆ Rating Recapped by Justin Smolenski​

It was possibly the most anticipated matchup of the card, Roc vs Loso, which was the first half of a high-level 2 battle weekend for both, and it was on Loso to start the battle. In hindsight, his weakest round, Loso 1st, felt similar to the feeling Chef Trez 1st gave vs TTop. It’s not bad; there are undeniably clever lines, but it lacked the energy or impact for the matchup, especially as a heavy underdog. Roc’s 1st in response is what you may have expected, landing bombs early in the round that already showed the signs of what would be a dominant round. Starting from the Dirt Devil haymaker, Roc put on a non-stop attack, landing bar after bar, and was up a clear 1-0 in what looked like it could be over early.

Loso 2nd round in response, emphasized one of the most unspoken but critical elements of Battle Rap: composure. After an explosive Roc 1st, the crowd was apprehensive about giving substantial cheers to the witty jabs at the top of Loso 2nd. In the past, his Twork and even recent Official battles, for example, Loso brought the material necessary to compete. Still, his delivery is affected by the reception he’s getting in the building. Although he had to punch through it, Loso performed with total confidence regardless of any reaction and slowly built the momentum of his round until it felt like every line was connecting. Leading up into his Quiet On The Set haymaker, Loso showed proper vet composure and punched his way into a very formidable 2nd round in a moment that should tell you a lot about how far he’s come as a battler. Roc 2nd in response is also a good round, although not as explosive as his 1st, and is the round that decides the battle judging it.

This is because the 3rd round of this battle is all Loso. Not only does Roc have a rare choke in his 3rd, giving the round-up by default, but Loso’s 3rd is an incredible mix of the punches he had been throwing all battle mixed with angling, something Loso has always gotten a lot of credit for being a specialist in. While he did work on some angles that he could have gone without, the Fred angle especially, his 3rd was crafted so well that even using some standard angles vs. Roc didn’t deter from the writing. Based on an “almost” concept, Loso used angles such as Roc’s near fights and chains to punch at him and ended his performance with his best round. This brings us back to the 2nd, with both splitting the other 2 rounds clear. It was a very close fight; whether you had Loso winning or losing, he undoubtedly has earned much respect for his showing and could start an upward trend for Loso if his Geechi battle is any similar. The judged vote went to Roc, in a 2 to 1 split, being declared the victor by Chilla Jones and the fan vote, edging the 2nd to win the battle. Roc choking is something to keep an eye on as it seems that the heavy volume schedule is finally getting some fatigue to kick in, but with a judged vote and an extra 25k, Roc has notched another stock positive battle onto his 2024 resume. 

Arsonal vs Bad Newz

2.75 ☆ Rating Recapped by France

Arsonal kicked off the showdown with a fiery first round, immediately establishing a tone of intense energy and performance. This rendition of Arsonal showcased a sharper, more focused delivery than we’ve seen from him in recent battles. However, Bad Newz proved to be a formidable opponent, not only matching Arsonal’s energy but surpassing it. Despite starting with subtle punchlines, Bad Newz steadily built momentum throughout the round, culminating in a powerful haymaker that left a lasting impact at the end of each round. This story persisted throughout the battle, with Bad Newz performances

Arsonal, recognizing the need to step up his game, intensified his efforts in the second round. Despite showcasing improved material, he faced setbacks with costly stumbles, which ultimately marred an otherwise solid performance. In a judged battle where cleanliness and precision are paramount, these falters proved detrimental to Arsonal’s chances of securing the $30,000 prize. Despite rallying in the third round to maintain the momentum from his second, it was too little, too late, as Bad Newz had already solidified his lead with each passing round, ultimately securing the judged victory.

In the aftermath of the battle, Arsonal found himself reflecting on the missed opportunities and costly mistakes that ultimately led to his defeat. Despite his efforts to elevate his performance, the consistency and commanding presence of Bad Newz proved insurmountable and he walks away $30K richer. 

John John Da Don vs Calicoe

3 ☆ Rating Recapped by Justin Smolenski​

This battle is a 3-star rating solely off the high-level performance that John John brought to the table. He brings the replay value to this match.

The main event of the night, legends clashed for a very prized 50k on the floor, with John John leading the battle off vs Calicoe. Straying away from the round-by-round breakdown, want to focus on JJDD’s performance first. In a battle where the approach from each was hard to call, John John started off similar to his Eazy battle and just got at his opponent bar for bar. With a couple of the more creative Cal flips you’ll hear, John John barred Calicoe away the first two rounds landing all the haymakers the battle had to offer and mixing in angles more as the battle went on. He has always been an all-around talent; the punch-heavy content didn’t take away from the angles, a little bit of scheming, performance, and comedy elements, which he gave some examples of throughout the battle. Even with a dip in the 3rd, his 1st two rounds were pure dominance, and if not on the same card as a legendary level TTop showing, he would be the Performer Of The Night. With pretty much a flawless showing, this leaves John John’s last 2 battles as arguably 2 wins vs Eazy and Calicoe, powerful results when you look back at the history books. 

On the other hand, Calicoe’s performance marks his 2nd underwhelming show in 2 weeks. After a choppy and rough performance against Reed Dollaz, many were disappointed. While the responsibility of rapping on an event you’re running can be challenging, it doesn’t excuse the lackluster performance. However, showing up to a main event against JJDD, for 50k and against someone who was also rapping and running their event, with even worse material, is simply unacceptable. Almost anyone on the card could’ve beaten Calicoe with the effort he brought, and against a formidable John John, it ended up being a complete body bag loss for Cal. Choking in the 2nd, mixtape material in the 1st and 3rd, he’s looked like a mere shadow of himself in his last two battles, sparking fair critiques and conversations about the quality of Cal’s recent performances.

One legend has one of his worst back-to-backs to date, while another has maybe his best two consecutive battle runs. John John also overcomes the expected pattern of league owners struggling on their own cards, as stated before, being the easy 2nd best performer of the night. Although not competitive, a good and dominant performance in the main event was a solid way to close out a successful event. 

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