Emerson Kennedy Is Moving Mountains

“A detailed plan with support provisions is imperative for reaching the summit.”

If you haven’t been paying attention, Emerson Kennedy has been the definition of outside this year, multiple battles on an endless amount of platforms, probably some you haven’t even heard of. In the midst of this, he’s also somehow created one of the craziest calendar year resumes we’ve ever seen. These have been a part of his “Crashing Out” series on the Last Second Sea YouTube channel which seems like “The Last Dance” but for battle rap. He’s spending what appears to be his final active year in battle rap chasing all possible wreck from every level and giving maximum effort to whoever books him.

Crashing Out

“Crashing Out” is what EK calls his series highlighting his farewell to battle rap competition, but a “crash out” is far from accurate when describing it. That language infers something or someone losing control, with the end result potentially being something catastrophic. And maybe on some level, it is, to battle names like Geechi Gotti, Arsonal, Nu Jerzey Twork, and several others before hanging it up. Part of it is a suicide mission, but it’s also the most graceful exit from battle rap we’ve ever seen. In a culture where we’ve seen people “retire” in one battle and then come back with a new battle announcement a week later, EK’s approach lends itself to a tangible level of finality that most of those retirements don’t have.

“Unorthodox” has become a part of the battle rap lexicon, it’s often misused when describing a talent’s style or approach. However there are some people for whom the term fits perfectly, Emerson Kennedy is one of those few. A ten-year vet in the game who seemingly never chased the usual battle rap accolades, instead he pursued challenges over status & used battle rap as a way to to touch other cities and countries while also creating his own platform to show he was much more than just a rapper. His production company Last Second Sea has created shows, podcasts, and plenty of creative content, the best part about this is he used battle rappers as the talent for the shows creating new opportunities for the artists we know from the culture we love. When you’re an insider in battle rap, you hear a lot of things about people, mostly negative in all honesty, but Emerson is one of the few we can say you hear nothing but positive stories about and it’s hard to not cheer for him.

Visionary, Director, Producer, Artist.

EK hasn’t shied away from his love for film and media creation, and to be able to tie that together so easily to his departure from battling puts on full display EK’s creative eye, a side of himself he chose to share with battle rap and use to create opportunities for his fellow battlers. Giving so many guys their acting debuts by showcasing them on “Grey Area”, putting forth the time and effort to make the show built around Lu Castro and Jaz The Rapper called “Reggie”, even the short-lived “Hold The Elevator” podcast with B Dot and so many other things. As EK has tried to elevate and pursue his passions, he never turned his nose up at battle rap in the process and saw the potential in so many people to translate beyond that format.

And while there is a large level of appreciation towards EK for those contributions to battle rap and his work on the production side with Caffeine, the same admiration doesn’t feel like it’s given towards his actual battling. This is a shame because EK has been tremendously consistent for the last 10 years and may be one of the best pens in all of battle rap during that time. And that pen can create some of the best battles we’ve seen in battle rap in the last few years. EK has battles like B Dot, Jey The Nitewing, Rum Nitty, and Quantum Physics that got tons of love and could be seen on several lists in year-end dialogues. In conversations with LTBR staff and friends, I’ve likened EK to being battle rap’s Noname. If you aren’t familiar with Noname, she’s a very talented rapper and one of the most skilled lyricists in music currently. 

She, like EK, also tends to get more recognition for her non-music-related work than her music, but she is one of the best in the world. Her delivery and flow can be a bit samey or even a little lullaby-like, but the content of what she’s saying is extremely dense and potent with layers to peel through. I think a lot of that applies to EK where it’s so easy to dismiss him for people because of having the “same flow” constantly, but when you peek deeper in the content, he’s one of battle rap’s best writers. It’s not uncommon in a random battle for EK to say a bar that leaves me absolutely stunned. And in a culture with so many talented MCs, there are not many people I can say make me react that way frequently but EK does. 

Last Second Sea Presents ROME

In the process of his “crash out”, EK put together a really great card, ROME, that’s being aired on Caffeine this weekend. With the headliner being Jaz the Rapper vs Nu Jerzey Twork. That’s a legitimate blockbuster battle that sells itself, but between the trailer, the face-off, the skits, and the Twitter back-and-forth, it’s become one of the best-promoted battles of the entire year. Visually the trailer and the face-off looked great and builds the excitement for what the whole event would look like. When you add on the other battles here, it turns into one of the most interesting cards of the year and something more than worthy of paying attention to. Ace Amin vs Marv Won in particular is a battle of two guys who are jousting for higher spots come COTY time, this is like when two top 25 programs clash in college sports.

The saying about appreciating something when it’s gone is an old adage, but it doesn’t take away from it being true and having validity to it. It doesn’t always necessarily have to apply to physical death or the loss of something, sometimes it can be as simple as not recognizing someone’s talent until they’re no longer in that trade. EK is a guy who I sadly feel won’t get that love until his career is all said and done. But as long as LTBR has a platform, there will always be a place that sings the praises of Emerson Kennedy and what his time in battle rap has brought to the culture and hopefully continues to bring, even if it’s in a different capacity.

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