For the Culture: Close Range 2 Recap

Close Range 2

Event Rating

Event Recapped by Moni

LTBR Award Recipients

Standout Performers Of The Night:   Nu Jerzey Twork | DNA. | John John Da Don | Shotgun Suge

Upset Of The Night:  Seven J beating Calicoe

BullPen Battle League brings the second installment of their staple event, Close Range 2. The essence of Close Range is about giving newer and developing talent a “shot” against vets. The very first Close Range featured talents like Loso, Street Hymns, and Riggz. They duked it out against top tiers like DNA, Clips, and Danja Zone. Close Range 2 incorporated the same element=- a rookie versus vet type of ordeal. 

What made this event more special was the partnership with The Black Male Initiative of Georgia. John John da Don collaborated with the organization to raise money for the non-profit institution, while also allowing rappers to display their talents. He presented a platform for his BullPen artists to showcase their abilities against some of the hottest names in battle rap today. The event was completely free to watch on BullPen’s YouTube Channel and they gave out 200 free tickets. Props to John John for putting on for a great cause.

DNA vs Philly Haze

A dope battle to open the event. DNA opens the battle with back-to-back punches out the gate, along with high-level energy and incredible rapping. He had some dope Haze flips and tailored material as well. Classic DNA, giving 100% no matter the caliber of the opponent. Philly Haze had some okay material, but his performance lacked conviction and aggression. He needs to work on his vocal projection as well, but he has potential and if he has more matches like this, it will push him to be better. DNA showed levels in this battle and walked away with a convincing win.

Arsonal vs Superblack

It’s on SuperBlack to go first. He comes aggressive and energetic, but he struggles to land a convincing haymaker. Props to SuperBlack for barking on Arsonal and looking comfortable. Unfortunately, the material doesn’t as well. The wordplay in his Avengers scheme “Bucky/Buck he, Winner/winter soldier” was some outdated references, that took away from his round. Arsonal starts his round with some slick talk and dope rapping pockets. He gets into some fire struggle lines and drug talk, which resonates with the crowd. Midway through the round, Arsonal gets more personal and starts barking at his opponent. Typical Arsonal, yet very effective, and closes his round out strong. Overall, Arsonal showed levels and won clearly in my opinion. 

Shotgun Suge vs Young Herb

Young Herb opens his round with a dope intro, “ He try to dunk on me, hands down, I’m gone catch a charge.” He sustains a high amount of energy throughout the entire round. Herb has a couple of witty lines and solid punches here and there. He started out strong, but the round took a dip during the middle and tapered off near the end. Overall, it was an okay round from him. Suge starts his round with his usual intro, “Let’s get one thing straight.” He immediately gets into a dope pocket with some fire Herb flips and dunks on his opponent. Suge takes a “What ya life-like” approach briefly and lands a dope drug bar to end the round. This was a cool battle. Some dope moments from both rappers. Young Herb needs to work on landing more because the rapping and energy is there. As far as Suge, he wasn’t at 100%  but he completed the objective. He was effective. Suge is battling Kyd Slade on URL’s Redemption card this weekend, so this was a good way to keep his pen sharp. 

Nu Jerzey Twork vs OG Grizzly

OG Grizzly elects to go first. He opens up with an approach on Twork’s career and lifestyle. While Grizzly comes out with high energy, the bars do not match the performance. He had a lot of OBC lines throughout the round like forgive/four give and tendonitis/ten deny us. Usually, a rapper goes first when they are confident their round is powerful. Unfortunately, the round fell flat because he failed to land consistently. The passion and fire is certainly there, but Grizzly has to work on his writing. He needs to weed out the outdated bars and implement more potent material. Twork on the other hand showed immense levels in rapping, writing, performance, energy-everything. For this to be a one-rounder, Twork was 100% locked in. Clean performance, great rapping and great writing. Twork’s round was the highlight of this battle and I gave him the battle pretty clear.

John John Da Don vs Reggie P

John John goes first and starts off with some spicy talk and draws the crowd in early. He continues round by delivering tailored material and breaks down Reggie P’s career. John John is landing haymakers and has the crowd eating out of his hand. Reggie comes out in his round with some good energy. He begins attacking early. From the aggression to the comfortability on stage, Reggie managed to put up a pretty good fight. He had fire bars here and there, with some dry spots-but not too many. In a nutshell, this was the best back-and-forth of the night. Reggie P performed the best out of all the Bulls. He had great energy, projection, comedic timing, and some dope bars. Dope showing from Reggie P and a great performance from John John. John John has Chef Trez this weekend on URL’s Redemption Card in Atlanta, Georgia. While this was one rounder, John John looked like himself and showed no signs of ring rust. In fact, he looked pretty comfortable. It’ll be interesting to see how the URL battle plays out on Saturday.

Calicoe vs Seven J

This was the last battle of the night. Seven J picks Calicoe to go first. Calicoe gets into a dope pocket and showcases his incredible rapping ability. He lands some cool punches here and there. Midway through his round, Calicoe chokes and attempts to get it back. After not being able to recall his material, he resorts to freestyling which turns awry. Eventually, he ends his round. Understandably it’s a one-rounder, but for the Bulls, it’s their one shot with a URL vet. It’s disappointing that Calicoe wasn’t able to complete his round. Seven J doesn’t take advantage of Calicoe’s mishap. He comes with a lot of energy, but the rapping and writing aren’t tight at all. There were several dry spots and areas where Calicoe still showed levels despite not finishing. Seven J could work on his flow, pacing, and rapping ability more as well as strengthen his writing. The potential is there and the work ethic seems to be there, so he can definitely make the adjustments. As far as Calicoe, he’s solidified; but it would’ve been nice to see a complete battle. Unfortunately, the battle was underwhelming all around.

Final Thoughts

The Bullpen artists had one round and one shot to prove themselves against the vets. It’s safe to say the vets walked away with the win. DNA and Nu Jerzey Twork were the standout performers of the event. They both brought bars, energy, and performance. They came with clean rounds, filled with effective punches and haymakers. Shotgun Suge, Arsonal, and John John also brought dope content and some good rapping elements. Calicoe was the only vet to take a definitive loss, due to a memory lapse. On the flip side, the Bulls just material didn’t match the vets tonight. They had a lot of commonly used bars in their rounds and their writing wasn’t as tight or potent. Nevertheless, every BullPen artist brought passion and energy for the most part. The hunger was there and the potential was there as well. It would be great to see these guys continue to be battle tested and grow as rappers. 

As far as the stream itself, the audio was unpleasant for those of us at home watching the stream. It would often cut in and out during rappers’ rounds, you could barely hear the crowd, and it was hard to decipher pacing. While they were able to adjust the audio so we could hear the rappers and fans clearly, it wasn’t until the last two battles. We couldn’t hear clearly for most of the event and there were some issues with the live stream. 

Nevertheless, BullPen can make these adjustments going forward. 

In the end, there’s not much you can say about an event that’s free of charge to the public, supports a great cause, and allows black men to showcase their craft. A representative from the Black Male Initiative offered a few words during intermission, “We want to give flowers to John John and Bullpen, and a shout out to them because this is the first time in f*cking history that social justice movement organizing has partnered with the culture in this way. It’s one thing legendary, it’s another thing to be legacy and that’s what tonight is.” 

He goes on to say, “There’s no question about the black excellence that comes from the ability of these cats. At the end of the day, these mfers are geniuses, but they’re a little more than that. They’re the voices of the streets.” 

Salute to the artists on the card that supported the cause. Major shoutout to John John and the Black Male Initiative for throwing such a dope event. The timing couldn’t have been any better, during Black History Month. It’s all for the culture. For our culture. 

Learn more about the Black Male Initiative here: 

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