"This is the part where you all show love! / When we say E-O, Yall say DUB!!!"
Lurking in the midst of Manhattan's East Village lies The City's livest Hip Hop open mic night - End of the Weak. Rockin' every Sunday night at The Pyramid (Avenue A between 6th and 7th), End of the Weak, or EODUB, showcases top flight lyrical talent from across the 5ive Boroughs, Jersey, CT, etcetera.
This isn't some novice shit. These cats can spit. The name, End of the Weak, perfectly fits.
Since 2000, EODUB's held it down for endeavoring Emcees, providing a weekly platform to show skills. And with EODUB chapters in Brazil, France, Germany, Spain, The UK, Argentina - their movement has gone global.
Aight Quotable Nation. I can't front. The Company Man is inextricably embarrassed about this one. New York City's longest running Hip Hop open mic has jumped off weekly for the past NINE YEARS and I'm just now hearing about it!! Honestly, I was first introduced to EODUB while preparing for The-Quotable's Niles Interview (All Ready A Success Story). And had I not into my man Mars Jupiter last Tax Day, I probably wouldn't have attended when I did. How could I have missed this for so long?? I feel like punching myself in the face!
Cue the Leon Phelps voice
"Yeah that was the stupidest thing I ever said."
Nevertheless, in honor of this fundamental discovery, we here at The-Quotable have decided to deliver our first Top Whatever List of 2009. See, everybody wins at The-Quotable.com.
THE-QUOTABLE PRESENTS: THE TOP 4 REASONS WHY END OF THE WEAK NEEDS TO BE ON YOUR WEEKLY ROTATION
4. The Venue
Narrow, indistinct, corridor. Dim, red hue highlighting a thirty foot bar hoisting alcoholic favorites, littered with bar stools. Two dollar Rolling Rocks. Five Dollar Heineys. Blackened back room bumping DJ Vinly Richie's ill soundscape. The Pyramid feels alternative. It feels like the East Village. It feels like Hip Hop. All at the same time. Its one of those spots that you picture being smoked out in the late 90s. Or early 2000s. The good ol' days. Back when puffin' in the spot wouldn't get you kicked out. Sorry non-smokers. Live shows are better with haze in the air.
The back room is where the ill spills. Any lights present are turned off, except for those igniting the stage. Ceiling low like a basement party. Acoustics are off the chain. Although there are a few low seating tables along the right side of the cut, by 10pm, its standing room only. And really, thats what I want in an underground event. Someplace that captures the energy of hungry Emcees. The Pyramid aces this requirement.
3. The Format
On the typical Sunday, theres two parts to EODUB - the Open Mic and the Rhyme Off. Artists come early, sign the list, and rock whatevers ready in their arsenal. Thats the Open Mic. During the Rhyme Off, two heats of four Emcees kick their best 16, rhyme javelin' for that night's victory. On every fourth Sunday, the the previous Rhyme Off winners compete in the monthly MC Challenge. Now, this goes on in each EODUB chapter mentioned previously. The winners from around the world toss their lyrical fitted-hat into the ring and compete for the global crown. It doesn't get any doper than this.
"Hip Hop you havin' a good time, say 'Hell Yeah!' (Hell Yeah!) So right now we're about to jump off with MC Challenge #41. This is the ninth season of the International MC Challenge. The World Championship is currently held by Jack Flash out of the UK. So, what up Jack Flash? And this season we tryin' to win the championship for America. Are you with that shit?! Make some fuckin' noise in here!!" - EODUB Host, Pro-Payne during the MC Challenge intro.
No doubt, EODUB's MC Challenge is the iPhone of rap competitions. Talent wise, think 8 Mile - off-the-domes so dope that they must be written. Except there are no personal disses. You can't just grab the mic and shit on the next man's kicks or rhyme about 'yo'mama'. Which is why hosts Pro-Payne, Vice Verses, and Big Zoo emphasize repeatedly that this is a challenge, not a battle.
You have to appreciate that.
But what makes this Challenge the iPhone of rap competitions is that it includes each element of Emceeing. I'll break it down like this:
Lets say you think that an Emcee should have an ill written verse ready to flex over a dope beat - original or otherwise. Theres an event for that.
Lets say you think that an Emcee should be ready to represent with an ill written acapella. Theres an event for that.
Lets say you think that an Emcee should be able to freestyle off the dome about random objects or words or whatever, while maintaining a dope flow - proving that its an actual freestyle. Theres and event for that.
Lets say you think that an Emcee should be able to seamlessly rhyme over ever changing production - juggling various beats, catching it every time. Theres an event for that.
Lets say you think that an Emcee should be able to rock in a cypher, trading bars with a fellow Emcee. Theres an event for that.
The MC Challenge separates the rappers from the Emcees. You can't be average and compete here. Weak heads won't survive. The wack will be exposed. Theres no place to hide. It doesn't get any doper than this.
The iPhone of rap competitions.
DOWNLOAD MC CHALLENGE #41 HERE
This night's Challenge pits ferocious Queens Emcee, Am Zilla, Lansing's finest Niles Davis aka Alias, Woodside Queen's own Prezzure, street lyricist AP the Great, and Jigsaw the Puzzler head-to-head in a lyrical battle royal.
"HANDS UP! (OH!) / EVERYBODY!!! (OH!) / LOUDER!!! (OH!) - Contestant Number 1!"
- Jigsaw the Puzzler's Written Round verse from his track "Spazzz Out". Not only was this cut mean, but Puzzler was the only Emcee to spit over original music. He even came with a hook. Smart approach. The verse was effective and distinguished him from the rest. Dopest Quotable (5:33 into the download):
"You don't write rhymes / you write scripts. / The problem is / you're the star actor in the script / smokin' clips. / You talk real reckless / with a pen and pad in your hand. / Knowin' your whole life / you never held a gat in your hand. / Am I the only one / who ceased to be bamboozled? / Most of these killas is fake, / don't let them confuse you."
"HANDS UP! (OH!) / EVERYBODY!!! (OH!) / LOUDER!!! (OH!) - Contestant Number 5!"
- Prezzure's verse in the Acapella Round. The gruff voiced, heavy-set Emcee kicked ill lyrics while smoothly changing cadence throughout the rhyme. He's on his Sunday shit, yall - End of the Weak! Dopest Quotable (14:35 into the download):
"A lot of cats wanna see Prezzure on top. / I got the haters feelin' Prezzure if they like it or NOT! / I'ma claim my spot. / Then the lames gon' flop. / Got ladies lovin' me, screamin' 'please don't stop'. / Cause I give em' / orgasms through they ears. / Similar to the one when I'm hittin' their rear. / 'OOOOOOH YEEEEAH! / Macho / Savage. / I do / DAMAGE! / HIP HOP FOR THE FUCKIN' PLANET!! / And / I'm / straight outta Woodside. / Kill yourself if you can't ride."
"HANDS UP! (OH!) / EVERYBODY!!! (OH!) / LOUDER!!! (OH!) - Contestant Number 4!"
- AP the Great's Acapella Round verse. Straight up, AP the Great can spit. So much so, that The Company Man felt compelled to drop his entire verse direct for Quotable Nation. Dopest Quotable (16:46 into the download):
"Even if the time on your watch stop, haters still gonna be ticked off. / Niggas is so backwards, they got the game Kris Krossed. / I'm a New Edition. / You Lost Boyz need to get up on a new mission. / Bullets don't start friendships. / This shit's The Game, but see, I don't like to play around. / I'd rather 'rock a knocka chick boots ' off in H-Town. / For that loucini watch your Camp get Lo. / Even a Bone Thug can end up walkin' up and down them Crossroads. / I was smart in school, your boy got intelligence. / Police love to see me as an Arrested Development. But, / I'm just another young Nigga Wit an Attitude. / 'Makin you' say Ugghh' cause I rhyme like a Master (P) do. / I ain't a flashy dude. / Look at my chain. / You would start thinkin' that I feed my diamonds fast food. / Shit, even Wu-Tang taught us that Cash Rules / so why you bloggers gettin' mad cause we talk cash and jewels? / If you ain't got it, don't hate, just congratulate. / I'm 'bout Strictly Business like an EPMD tape. / I can't see straight. / Maybe its the haze up in me. / I Get Around like 'Pac, keep razor blades with me. / I ain't a Crip or Blood, but you can Color Me Bad. / Shooters don't give a fuck about the color of your rag, nigga. / My Shock G got a Sure Shot principle. / I love it how Underground was the first to go Digital. Bitch!"
"HANDS UP! (OH!) / EVERYBODY!!! (OH!) / LOUDER!!! (OH!) - Contestant Number 3!"
- Niles' verse in the Acapella Round. Niles continues to impress with his lyrical dexterity. Quotable Nation is already familiar with the Emcee-formerly-known-as Alias, but this the first time we've peeped him in a battle, er, Challenge setting. Once again Niles Davis represents - this time kicking an ill rapid fire flow during the Acapella Round. The beauty is that every syllable is completely distinguishable in a live setting. Extremely difficult to pull off clearly (Jigsaw had difficulty with this style during his acapella). Dopest Quotable (18:20 into the download):
"You followin' trends. / Yall are pretend. / You'll never will win. / You wanna be ballers and drivin Impala's but live with yo' mama. You gotta be kidding me. / The enemies lettin' me win, call it a victory. / You simp with the lyrics. You simp from the ink from my pen on the ceiling. The remedy. / Know it is I. Don't even try. Don't even focus on mine. I know that you're hoping I fry. My flow will put an 'O' in your zone like the hole in the sky."
"HANDS UP! (OH!) / EVERYBODY!!! (OH!) / LOUDER!!! (OH!) - Contestant Number 2!"
- AM Zilla in every single round! PERIOD. Straight up, Am Zilla is a monster! Lyrically aggressive. Lyrically clever. Lyrically complete. Am wrecked shop in every round, torching the mic each time, leaving only a pile of ashes in his wake. The entire night, it was as if he was on that Manny Ramirez (performance enhancers). The difference between his off-the-domes and his writtens is negligible. Everything Zilla kicked was masterfully dope, but his Grab Bag round performance was most impressive (32:37 into the download). Grab Bag objects in (parenthesis):
"Yo, I'm about to jook the bag up, take that stash. / See what I got up inside this Grab Bag. / First off, dog, I'm bustin like ratchets. / I'm lettin off the fire and I ain't use the (MATCHES). / Yeah nigga, that nigga AM-spire. / I'll save this shit for my freestyle camp fire. / Then I come through and go into the bag again / pull out the (BAT) again. / Dog, I call up you dogs and you catsman. / I'm the most powerful nigga in the line up / so I'm the 4th batsman. / Yo this freestyle is off the dome, son. / Yo throw me the pitch...thats a homerun. / Now, we go back to bag. / Nigga tell I'm comin' through. / Am's the shit! / Oh my god, nigga, yall niggas can't stomp me. / Niggas wanna look at my style. I rep New York, B. / And I do it. Yall niggas can't do this hardly. / This looks like a Queens detect (WALKIE TALKIE). / Niggas is listenin. Dog try to battle me. / Fuck get close, yall niggas can't bag me. / How many obects I got left? 2 more? / How the fuck is my flow? I think its too raw. / And yall niggas know / I got the righteous shit. / Oh, this is the (NAPKIN) I give your girl to wipe her lips. / Stand up. Zilla's nice. / I got one more object / Ill for your life. / And the last thing I pull out, oh I'ma catch wreck. / The bud I smoke is even more bright green the (SHREK)!"
ALL FREESTYLE! RIDICULOUS! Zilla is special. And not surprisingly, he won MC Challenge #41.
2. The Hosts
End of the Weak hosts Pro-Payne, Big Zoo, and Vice Verses alone are reason enough to check out EODUB. They manage the mic like Joe Torre, tag teaming like The Legion of Doom, guiding the audience through the event. Atomic energy. Crazy chemistry. Kicking freestyle rhymes between each performance, demanding crowd participation. Because of them, EODUB feels more like a concert than an open mic. No doubt, this trio rocks a party.
1. The Emcees
Top to bottom, mic to plug, most of this night's Emcees sport top tier talent. Whether its song writing ability, lyrical skill, creativity - these cats are Worthy. Like James. Its enough to give you hope for Hip Hop's future. The majority of the list consisted of radio-ready jams wrapped in lyrical ferocity. And if commercial radio wasn't saturated in Payola payments, you would actually hear the majority of this music. The standouts:
- Sick Brick City lyricist, Khalil Kash's ill track, "Pay Day." Kash's conversational-early-two-thousand-Jay-Z-esque flow commands the head knocking boom-bap soundscape.
- Ryze's anthemic "I Get Moolah". This was probably the most radio-ready track of the night. Ryze's raucous performance demands audience participation, and his tounge twister delivery over the synth heavy production is reminiscent of Mystical in his prime (but less nasaly) or something out of late nineties ATL (thats a good thing). "I Get Moolah" forces you to bounce. Why this song isn't knockin' in every club in everywhere America I don't understand.
- "Since I Was A Minor" by Class President's. Honestly, I'm not sure if thats the actual name of this track, but the hook goes "Since I was a minor, I've been doin major. / I be gettin' mine, tryna grind for this paper." This feels like something to smoke and ride to, or drop down into mack mode to. Infectious. Perfect for the Summer.
- Connecticut Emcee, The Rising Sun Quest. Homeboy wrecked shop in the Rhyme Off, advancing to the final round. And although he fell to Am Zilla (like everyone else on this night), he was dope enough to win an invite into an MC Challenge later this year. Dopest Quotable:
"Yo, its pretty obvious I'm not a novice and not a suprise. / Not a lot of people pick up what I'm puttin down / when I rhyme. / Vision fine, but they mentally blind. / I expose what your disguise was designed to hide. / You and I are like the sun and the moon / lighting the sky. / 'Til the lunar eclipse proves that only one shines. / Line after line, I boggle the mind. / All rise when the honorable Rising Sun preside. / With a dirty flow / comparable to a hill slide. / When a volatile incline produce a mud slide. / A dangerous threat unbenounced to the human eye / like a tumor that was diagnosed unbenign."
"This is not the beougie shit! We're not serving apple martinis!" - EODUB Host Big Zoo
Mic to plug, EODUB is official. The hosts are live, locale is tight. The format's dope. The artists are worthy. The talent level and overall energy make this event feels equally club and concert-esque. "Its the evolution of Hip Hop competition." And at $10 at the door - EODUB is a steal. Now thats whats poppin' during a financial crisis.
Check these vids and much more dopeness at http://www.youtube.com/user/justhunte.
Niles Cypher Round
AM ZILLA Beat Jugglin'
AP the Great