Event Recapped by Senior Staff Writer Q Moody, France, & J-Smo

LTBR Award Recipients

Battle of the Night:  #1 Aye Verb vs. A.Ward | #2 Hitman Holla vs ill WIll | #3 Goodz vs. Calicoe | 

Best Individual Performances of the night:
 #1 Bigg K | #2 A.Ward | #3 Aye Verb | #4 Hitman Holla | #5 ill WIll | #6 Goodz

The Biggest Win of the Night: Bigg K over Yung ill 

Commentator’s Performance Of The Night Choice:  Split between Aye Verb & ill Will | (Runner up B-Magic)

Undercard Standouts:  Riggz | Deth The Kid | Xcel | 

Undercard Standouts

The undercard for the night was pretty standard but with some noticeable peaks.

Zay vs. Cino Savvy and Jay Breed vs. K Venom were okay battles that showcased talent, but the other 2 battles of the undercard really stood out.

The best battle of the 4 was XCel vs. Deth The Kid. Pen-heavy matchup, XCel wrote uphill while Deth started on fire and slowly cooled out. Deth had a ton of crazy X and Cell clips while XCel had some more real talk to his approach, mixed with good writing. Gave Deth the first 2 rounds but debatable and clearly the best back-and-forth of the early battles.

Also, Riggz performance vs. JSlash stood out as one of the more dominant performances of the whole card. Writing, delivering, and performing at a higher level, Riggz clearly took this battle in his Blue Room debut. His marijuana/silent J bar that he carried from the 2nd to the 3rd is probably the best example of Riggz’s creativity as he really showed out and hopefully will be seen vs. higher levels of competiion on some RBE cards moving forward.

QB Black Diamond vs RX

The battle between QB and RX showcased the unique intensity and talent of both female emcees on the card. RX, known for her exceptional writing skills, elevated her delivery to its highest potential. However, QB managed to weave seamlessly into her material and maintain better flows, delivery, and hitting some remarkable high points like her holistic haymaker. It was a battle where intangible qualities played a crucial role, ultimately giving QB a slight edge. In the second round, RX stepped up her game with a burst of firepower and even delivered a memorable rebuttal to kick things off. Her improvement in her game is evident now that’s got the rebuttal badge added to her skill set. QB, while maintaining her consistency, didn’t quite reach the same high points she had in her first round, making this round a close call that could be edged toward RX. 

Unfortunately for RX, the third round was marred by a few stumbles that disrupted her momentum. These mistakes provided QB with the opportunity she needed to seize control and close out the battle. Despite the hurdles faced by RX in the final round, both ladies put on a solid battle in the Blueroom with some dope highlights. 

Showoff vs Head Ice

One of the lower main card battles saw RBE staple Showoff take on a long-time vet in Head Ice. One word to describe this battle: bizarre. From Ice’s lead-off in the 1st, things got strange almost instantly. Head Ice is a legend in the game, and while his laid-back delivery and real talk have paved a great career for him, he is no stranger is confusing the hell out of the audience as well. His 1st is a mix of strange pace, references that maybe only Ice understands, and random moments of fire. Although Ice 1st is all these things, there are moments of brilliance that pop up mid-battle, such as his 1st round haymaker “I’m a keep it real with you / I’m the type to kill you and still miss you.” With a beatable 1st from Ice, Showoff was given an easy road to a clear 1-0 lead. The issue is this is also one of the strangest Showoff performances as well. Punches not landing consistently and following the weird pace/energy Ice had set, Showoff matches Ice’s mediocrity leading to a stalemate 1st where neither set the bar too high going forward.

The 2nd and 3rd of these battles turn into absolute lunacy. Ice goes on to deliver a plethora of questionable material, such as saying he would shoot Showoff and he’d have a “mouth abortion”. No idea what it means but it sounds very unpleasant. This can only be matched with punchlines from Showoff such as “never been seen before/like the letter 4”. Battle is just a maze lyrically and leads to it being extremely contested throughout. I personally had Showoff edging the 1st and 3rd, Ice the 2nd. But this battle is a genuine miss. Ice may have been confusing, but this has been Ice for a while. While Showoff was due for a Blue Room W, not sure this is the form of a W I expected him to have. Head scratcher but thankfully still one of the earlier battles of the night. 

Goodz vs Calicoe

The battle between Goodz and Calicoe met expectations and lived up to the intense anticipation surrounding it. Quiet as kept, there is a small historic rivalry between Detriot and The Bronx. Early in Calicoe’s career, he battled Bronx Emcees like B Silva, Nu Born, Rich Dolarz. And Goodz had a bit of a grudge match with X-Factor a few years after that. Goodz, right from the start, stuck to his roots with his trademark slick talk about money. However, he also added an element of aggression and intensity and set the tone for how he was going to perform in this battle. Goodz displayed good control over the room and delivered a solid first round, but it was beatable. On the other hand, Calicoe’s first round was remarkably fluid and direct, setting the stage for his strategic approach throughout the battle. Calicoe skillfully sold the angle about Goodz’s father’s ethnicity, with him being white. And this moment sparks a highlighting debate about the authenticity of angles in battle rap, if you care about angles being truthful or sold well. Calicoe expands on an angle that easy briefly introduced during the Goodz vs. Eazy The Block Captain battle.

As the battle progressed, the second round leaned more favorably towards Goodz. He elevated his energy and delivered what would be considered the best round of the battle. Calicoe, in his second round, intensified his aggression when targeting Goodz’s career, which proved to be quite effective. However, he continued to focus on the angle about Goodz’s father, which started to feel somewhat redundant.

In the third round, Goodz aimed to be more direct in his approach towards Calicoe. He honed in on the sequence involving Calicoe’s support for a Black clothing line while owning nothing, making it a competitive round. Ultimately, this round was edged towards Goodz, rounding off what was a highly intense battle between two all-time greats. The battle lived up to its expectations and was a true style clash of content, pacing, and directness.

Arsonal vs B-Magic

Surprise battles with top tiers, hard to make people mad there. Magic vs Arsonal is a battle that feels like it should’ve happened, and even years past their recognized primes both gave a vintage performance and delivered one of the most fire and honestly fun battles of the night.

Magic 1st was solid, led off punching and picking up where he left off in his last Blue Room performance vs Coach Corelone. However, Magic 1st is so short it’s hard to even quote or analyze it, with a 90-second cut-off. Ars, however, picks up where he left off in his 3v3 battle on Born Legacy, giving high-octane raps but with real hard-hitting content, the common critique you’ll see about Ars writing. Also glad to say he continues this pace across all 3 rounds. Ars 1-0 clear.

2nd round, Magic picks up. Haymakers start to arrive, and the switch between flow patterns is done in a way only BMagic can do. Ars has a competitive 2nd as well but the potency of punches from Magic was just too much and comfortably took the 2nd round.

Like many battles that night, a competitive 1-1 going into the 3rd, and both battlers kept their foot on the gas. Magic 3rd is the best of his 3 rounds. Between his bar about Diz recent SM crash out or his OSolo bar, there are just so many quotes from Magic in this 2nd and 3rd. Ars 3rd also, is incredible. Peak Ars, getting in his real talk bag which you argue has been him at his best for years, mixed in with some clever writing. 3rd is a true toss-up and a great end to the battle, found myself giving the edge to Magic but a fantastic look for both legends that really started the special energy for the night.

Bigg K vs Yung ill

Yung Ills 4th or 5th return would be against one of the current best of 2023 and best battlers overall in Bigg K. Bigg K’s year has become synonymous with the character breakdown of legends, finding himself battling Ill after Mook and TRex, and this battle would be no different. Ill went 1st, and his 1st is just around that presents no danger. Good rapping ability is expected, but the content of his 1st is nearly nonexistent with a bit of struggle in the delivery as well. Tons of rust and not many bars before K even rapped there was worry in the air. Sadly, for Ill, his 1st was his worst round while K’s first is one of his best of the year. Immediately going into a tailored attack on Ill, K is doing everything in this 1st: talking about how bad he’s going to win, rapping in elite pockets/cadences, and just punching the hell out of Yung Ill. By the time he hits his Glass Break/Shaq in Orlando line, this 1st is already a landslide and only 2/3rds over. 1st is so lopsided the energy even looks kind of sad live, as K takes a body bag like lead over Ill.

The 2nd would be slightly better for Ill, as he found more footing early on landing a couple of witty lines (Try Me toy bar). He did dip back into filler/outdated raps as the round went on (a defeat bar occurred) but it was nice to see a sign of life from I’ll after a worrisome 1st. K 2nd is a step down from his 1st, less explosive on the haymaker side, but still extremely tailored and a good round. Al thought it was not ugly in dominance like the 1st, but the 2nd content-wise still was not close as K continued to take the battle 2-0 going into the 3rd. 

Lastly, the 3rd is a bright spot for Ill. Catching some good pockets, it’s the smoothest round I’ll have with tons of crowd love and good pace. I will say, when you break down the content of some of these pockets in the 3rd, not always the most sensible or well-put-together attacks, but pure rapping always has a place in Battle Rap and compared to his 1st 2 rounds this is easily Ill’s more favorable round. Bigg K’s 3rd is a bit of a retune to form of his 1st after a dip in the 2nd and puts a bow on another very complete performance. His Icepack/hurt something haymaker in the 3rd is an example of explosiveness that Ill struggled to reach the whole battle while K dropped them in between some very harsh career breakdowns and angles, giving you the full blueprint K also used to win his other 3 outings this year. Great showing from Bigg K against an Ill that did heat up late to make the battle respectable.

Aye Verb vs A.Ward

Promotion doesn’t always lead to great battles. Great battles are always the best promoted. It’s not often that these things meet, but when they do, it’s the recipe for producing something special.

A. Ward vs Aye Verb is a special battle.
What is there to be said about Verb at this point in time? Opinions on his promoting style and how far it may go be damned, we’ve seen enough of our legends not be great in their later years (Verb is no exception) to know the level of ferocity and quality of material Verb brought is not the norm and it should get applauded. One could point out all these things about it being the “Lou Room” and how it was a room made for Verb, but Verb wasn’t carried by that. His material is what made the room electric and he gave his best performance at least since the DNA battle in my eyes. Nothing but respect for Verb and being able to produce this high quality of a battle 14 years in to batting.
Even if it wasn’t “fair” to him, this battle became a make-or-break moment for A. Ward. Despite all the big names and accomplishments on Ward’s resume over the last 7 years, there’s always been a magnifying glass applied to Ward’s career. A lot of the time in bad faith and reasoning that didn’t make sense. How can someone with Ward’s resume and overall talent level still be seen as someone with question marks around him? It never made sense, but that’s the position Ward found himself in.
And with the lights the brightest (and bluest) they’ve ever been, Ward gave a career performance. A legitimate argument can be made that between the intro to his first round for Verb and his Crown Vic bar against Viixen that he has the two biggest moments in battle rap this year. And both of those came at crucial moments when all eyes were on Ward. 
The first round from Verb was remarkable and as a viewer, had me very concerned with how Ward could even compete with that. Ward shattered any expectations I had. There are the moments and haymakers we’ll all remember, but Ward’s writing is so potent that he sneaks in a bar like “chasing a dream in front of the greatest like Sam Bowie” and it’s part of a build-up. That’s genuinely maybe one of the best sports bars ever written, but it’s not even the highlight of the pattern.
The 2nd round in my opinion comes down to whose angles and approach you liked more. Verb’s round had some great lines, including a super crazy round opener. While the material later in the round is still good and resonates heavily with the crowd, the race approach he started taking didn’t hit me as hard as Ward’s approach to talking about the love and acceptance Ward has gotten from everyone else in the Midwest. 
The 3rd round also keeps this battle extremely competitive and close and once again boils down to whether Ward’s angles were hitting for someone or not. On my first watch of the battle the night of the event, I genuinely didn’t know who to pick or how to call it. In the 4-5 times I’ve watched it since then, I have come away with A. Ward as the winner and it felt clearer for me each time I watched it. That’s just me and my preference to Ward’s content and approach. With the variance in the polls from all different battle rap media, this battle is the very definition of a debatable and I’m not arguing with any verdict on the battle. But any pretending there’s a clear winner or that someone got smoked is just disingenuous. 
The highest-stakes battle we will see all year and one for the books. The devil deserves his due, Verb backed every single second of trash talk he did and then some. If someone still has questions or doubts about Ward, it’s hate and doesn’t have any rational thought behind it. Some people like to be careful in how they throw around this word, myself belonging in that category, but this battle is a classic. There’s no doubt in my mind. From the anticipation before the battle was booked, the reception to the announcement, the promo, the faceoff, and then the quality of the battle itself, it all aligned to make something unforgettable. For all the things we’ve seen this year and the biggest stories and controversies, you would not be able to tell the story of 2023 battle rap without mentioning A. Ward vs. Aye Verb and that to me is what makes something a classic and it’s maybe the first true classic we’ve seen since Eazy vs Chess.

Hitman Holla vs ill WIll

The main event of the night, and a mega fight to the core, Hitman and Will were able to live up to the hype and perform with no mics. Mic issues led to both performing off-straight projection and no matter how you call the battle that must be commended to the highest degree. The 1st of this battle is the best back and forth and funny enough is really what the battle comes down to. With Will leading and Hitman going 2nd, their 1st round is one of their better rounds of the battle. Will 1st was more efficient as he landed a few haymakers, 30 in a 19 bar as well as his Wayans mother bar being maybe the best of the bunch. Will looked extremely focused and polished and that would carry through the battle. Hitman’s response was also high level, with an emphasis on accolade/legacy talk with a mix of cadences and patterns, signature Hitman. His approach to talking about SM3 was dope, and played to the crowd well building momentum as the round went on. Hitman also rapped a good bit longer skewing the optics a bit, but rapping overtime is part of Battle Rap. Super close 1st and truly debatable, on the first watch I found myself giving it to Hitman. On the rewatch, the condensed efficiency of Will really ages well and, in my opinion, edges the 1st.

The next 2 rounds are easier to judge, although the consensus seems to think all 3 may be debatable. The 2nd is still very good from both, but I think this is where Hitman really caught stride. The legacy talk is turned up to a higher level, but so is the aggression and wordplay as Hitman takes a much more balanced attack than you’ll see in the other 2 rounds. Will 2nd was powerful and seemed like a very hard round to overcome but with Hitman rapping longer and being just as fire, this created separation and had him taking the 2nd comfortably.

Lastly the 3rd may be the clearest round of the battle. Will kept his pace in his 3rd with another superb round. Hitman 3rd he once again goes back to his accolade talk, and while it was fire the 1st 2 rounds and even good in the 3rd, it started to become a bit redundant. Add that fatigue kicked in, Hitman stumbles a bit in the 3rd and loses some momentum. Good round again from both but inverse to the 2nd, Will clearly takes the 3rd, which has me edging the battle to Hitman 2-1, 1st and 2nd

Very contested battle, like many on this card, and the 50/50 voting polls across almost all media platforms support that. Although late in the night and with no mics, 2 all-time greats still put on a high-level battle and gave the fans what they wanted from such a high-stakes match. Either way, you call it, they both did what they were supposed to and capped off an amazing card with one of the better back-and-forths of the night.


1st – Hitman razor edge

2nd – Hitman edge

3rd – Will clear

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