Longevity, a word we’re hearing more and more in sports as great ones like Tom Brady and LeBron James defy the odds of what we thought was humanly possible by continuing to be excellent at their crafts in the late stages of their careers. Being elite at anything takes a level of passion, dedication, intensity and a deep love for whatever it is you’re doing. Whether they’re your favorite players or not, the one thing you can never question about James and Brady is their drive to be great.
Often times we get caught up in attempting to define legacies of those who are still actively writing their story that we miss the beauty in what is right in front of us. In our culture of battle rap we have our own LeBron James, a man who has been the face of a brand for longer than anyone could’ve ever imagined, even when we thought he might’ve been done or on decline he bounced back with a fury only matched by the greatest athletes in any sport. That man’s name is Tay Roc.
"Some Dude Named TaeRoc"
Tay Roc’s rise in battle rap wasn’t instantaneous, it was rocky and filled with doubt at a certain point. His rise hit like a rising wave that just grew bigger and bigger until it crashed into the shore and destroyed anything standing in its way.
You can find footage of Tay Roc battling as a teenager through the ages of 13-16 available on Youtube. But what makes it prominent is how there is stories of Tay Roc making an appearance in the Fight Klub and being one of the premier guys on the Lionz Den Roster at one point time and being completely over looked. In 2009, GDE Magazine, a Hip-hop media outlet covering the Lionz Den referred to Tay Roc as some “Unknown cat“… They even spelled his name wrong !
In August 2009, Tay Roc was an undercard on the Head Ice vs Cortez Lionz Den event. Roc put on a breakout performance that changed the complete trajectory of his career. France from Let’s Talk Battle Rap got the luxury of witnessing Tay Roc against Philly veteran, Kaboom live in person. An Impressive performance that went into overtime and secured Tay Roc with the biggest win of his Career to date.
A perfect way to put a ribbon on the Lionz Den Era. An electric highlight clip of Roc’s 1st round in this performance went viral on WorldStarhiphop at the time, demonstrating his rapid fire abilities. Roc showed early in his career, he had to ability to find a multi syllabic rhyming pocket, fill it with aggression, punches and momentum to captivate an audience. You can still find him having success with this same formula 13 years later.
2013 Was A Special Year
Fast Forward about 4 years, Tay Roc was on the URL Roster and constantly in rotation as an under-card for several events, he was displaying massive consistency in all of his performances and was rewarded with an opportunity to make his Summer Madness Debut. Summer Madness 3 was the start of his apex and historic run. He battled Ill Will fresh off of his UFF title win, Will was looked at as the next big thing due to how impressive and dominant he was on the URL-BET collaboration.
The two put on a dope battle, but the true standout in this was Roc’s second round which is still one of the best and most momentous rounds in Summer Madness history. Roc brought the building down on Ill Will, ask any battle rap fan to finish the line “Give him the smith like Emmitt” and I bet they finish the line with the same intensity that Roc delivered it with. It was one of those moments that you remember exactly where you were when you watched that battle.
I was in college at the time in my dorm room, I had put the homies onto battle rap. I had them pull up on me to watch the battle and we were losing our minds. After that performance of the night at SM3, Roc was on everyone’s radar, after that, he took on JC at the first URL Born Legacy event where he put up a dominant 3 round performance that very few could’ve stood in front of.
Transcending Into Top Tier
2013-2014 was the beginning of Tay Roc being a consistent Main Stage act. After the Will & JC battle, those two performances placed Roc right on the edge of a breakthrough to the elites. His hard work, consistency, effort and passion were infectious and fans gravitated towards him. He continued putting on by having a classic in his long awaited rematch with Charlie Clips which solidified his place and exorcised the biggest loss in his career. From 2013 to 2018 he battled everyone from Clips, Tsu Surf, Calicoe, Hollow da Don, Dizaster etching his name in stone amongst the greats in battle rap, while simultaneously giving shots to rising stars like Brizz Rawsteen, Chess, Rum Nitty.
Pretty much anyone on the URL platform that had a buzz, they likely battled Tay Roc. Whether you think he won or lost some of those battles didn’t matter, because what we saw was a man make himself the face of a league and carry it with pride and honor. It wasn’t just the URL platform he carried, we also saw him be the face of the legendary Dot Mob while also further establishing his Cave Gang team and growing into his own person.
Tay Roc's Legendary Run
The 2013-2017 run of Tay Roc will forever stand as one of the greatest peaks of all time, a 5 year run with constant high level showings is incredibly difficult in any game, especially in a volatile game like battle rap. The Peak of his powers may have registered at Summer Madness 6 vs Hollow Da Don, after landing the legendary Seat-belt haymaker.
In 2018-2019 are what some fans considered “down” years for Roc, he had a debatable with Goodz at NOME 8, with a crowd that saw him get booed for the first time in his career, after his first round. Thanks to some excellent strategy from the veteran Goodz.
He suffered a loss to Hitman Holla at Summer Madness 7, a headlining battle that did not live up to the anticipated hype. And an awkward battle with Pat Stay in London. During this time he still showed flashes of peak Roc, like his 1st round vs Pat Stay or his 1st round vs Geechi Gotti for example. This run had people wondering if the Gun Bar King was past his prime as his best showing in this stretch was the 2 on 2 at Summer Impact with Chess vs Loaded Lux and Hollow Da Don. Funny enough at this same time, LeBron James was in his first season with LA Lakers where he missed the playoffs for the first time in years and left fans with questions.
Tay Roc Ages Gracefully In The Caffeine/App Era
Now we get to 2020, the bubble year for everyone, LeBron James made his return to the NBA finals, winning another championship, and Tay Roc went to NOME X and faced Daylyt in what turned out to be the Battle of the Year.
In 2021 saw him put on a great performance vs Nu Jerzey Twork in what many considered a top battle of that year. A big win over Chilla Jones at NOME 11 and still headlined two caffeine cards.
2022 Roc hasn’t done much…you know just had battle of the nights twice, a Champion Of the Night, A Champion Cover and a body of the night in his 3 appearances on URL. Somehow nearly 10 years after entering his prime, Tay Roc is STILL elevating. Still performing at a efficient rate and having an impact.
“I’m back to having fun with this again. This is what being the face looks like.”– Tay Roc on a interview with 15 Minutes of Fame.
The common theme amongst the athletes considered to be the greatest is an abnormal level of competitiveness and willpower. It’s not enough to win once, they want to win again and win again and win again. Look at any athlete who stayed at the top for multiple years and you’ll hear similar themes from them all. What I want you to see is that we have one of those people right here in our culture.
Tay Roc is the epitome of the competitive spirit of a Michael Jordan, a LeBron James, a Tom Brady. We’ve seen talent come and go, we’ve seen runs last for one year, some for six months, some for a few years, but typically what happens is the hunger fades. The drive that made them want to be great. Is gone once they’re there. Tay Roc is a decade past the start of his peak run, and judging by his 2022 he’s starting another one. This was his 9th NOME and he was on stage acting like it was his first. Appreciate the longevity, and the insane willpower of the Gun Bar King.