After a crazy 5 days in Prague, filled with pure Hip Hop, community, creativity and so much positivity that there had to be some negatives, we’d reached the 2017 End of the Weak MC Challenge World Final. Everything leading up to the main event had been impeccably organized by EOW Prague, so we knew that the final was going to be big. It says a lot about just how much work had been put in by Metodej, Anna and their team that despite knowing that, everyone involved had their mind blown by the level this world final was taken to. It was acknowledged afterwards by everyone involved that this had raised the bar for all future finals and elevated the profile of EOW as an organization; it was THAT dope.
The foundation for that dopeness was laid in the selection of the venue. Meet Factory is a world renowned art gallery and creative space designed and founded by David Černý one of Czech Republic’s most revered and forward thinking contemporary artists. His work can be found all over the city and the Meet Factory is a manifestation of a life’s work and a platform to give back to the city and art community. Now housed in a former glass processing factory, the original Meet Factory was a former abattoir, hence the name, and the gallery toys with that history. One instillation room is modelled on a freezer, completely white, clinical and full of mist, like it’s still storing beef. I can’t imagine a location more fitting for a competition based on instantaneous creativity, spontaneity, improvisation and wordplay than this spot, and it served as a good source of nourishment to each emcees imagination.
The venue’s potential was maximized by the fact it was completely sold out. 1000+ people rammed out the main room to capacity, not only to see the EOW World Final but for a full line-up of local and international Hip Hop, with the headline act being Czech Republic’s biggest ever Hip Hop group, some of the pioneers of Czech Hip Hop, Chaozz.
Our very own legend DJ Snuff kicked off proceedings, playing a variety of styles, blending different eras of our culture like it was nothing. The vibe was set nicely, and Snuff stayed on stage to back up Rebel Arms and Brooklyn representative Poison Pen alongside one of the best performers I’ve ever seen, Mazzi from S.O.U.L Purpose. The 2 complement each other’s styles perfectly, Pen laid back and raw as ever, backing drinks, not giving a fuck, with Mazzi bringing pure energy, everything precise, from his bars to the way he moved his hat.
The crowd showed mad love, acknowledging the skill they’d seen. The level of the night was set and the vibe was kept going by the performance of another New Yorker, the Gang Starr affiliated Afu-Ra. Now based in Prague, Afu-Ra has clearly been cultivating his rep in the Czech Republic, judging from how the crowd responded to him. He worked through Premo produced Boom Bap classics and new material, bringing in different styles and genres. The crowd was fully hyped and Czech DJ Cut Dem kept the vibes going, carrying us into the 2017 EOW World Final.
Keeping up the professionalism, every aspect of presentation was taken care of thanks to the talents of art director Vilém Kabzan. There was a serious display behind the performers, fully logo’d up, that detailed each performer and every round of the challenge. Metodej and his co-host Dozer were announcing in Czech and English and the judges had special customised seats made out of dumpsters, which is linked to another part of the show (you’ll see soon!).
To top it off, the event was live streamed across the world through the EOW Prague Facebook page with a state of the art, TV quality stream filmed from multiple angles. The stage was fully set, and there could’ve been nothing more to motivate all the emcees to bring their best to the table; a sold out capacity crowd, viewers locked in around the world and a platform worthy of national champions.
The platform matched the quality of the talent brought by these emcees and the line-up for the final consisted of incredible champions from 8 countries:
Basics; EOW Montréal
An emcee and singer from outta Quebec with a clear social conscience, Basics had never left Canada before this trip. Hip Hop had literally widened his world and he was riding the wave.
DzonAss; EOW Prague
Hailing from a town near Havířov in the Czech northeast, DzonAss organises regional EOW events. He has a dope flow and technique and had the home crowd advantage.
Osyris Antham; EOW New York
Osyris is a master freestyler from Brooklyn; it’s literally his day job. In addition, he’s a deep brother with a solid perspective of history and consciousness.
Res Turner; EOW France
The 2x EOW World Champion and 3x EOW France Champion, Res Turner is a militant community organiser and vegan with a global reputation as an emcee and activist.
Low G; EOW Belgium
The youngest champion at 20 years old, Low G has only been rapping for 2 years but can do it in multiple languages. He studies at De Stroate, an institution created to guide the next generation of Belgian Hip Hop.
McGyver; EOW Holland
Built like The Rock with just as much energy, McGyver, the Dutch emcee with Canadian heritage has a powerful, relentless flow for his multilingual bars.
Gee Bag; EOW UK
The 2x UK champ, Gee Bag is a witty lyricist with an effortless flow. His unpredictability earned him his alias Goodie Bag and he lives up to that title on stage.
Rox; EOW Switzerland
A deep thinker with a confrontational style, Rox has a rough, unique voice that captures and holds the listener’s attention.
Taking the range of languages on display, the 4 judges were Anna from EOW Prague (Czech/English), DJ Proceed from EOW Belgium (Flemish/French/English/Dutch), Delta from EOW Montréal (French/English), and our very own Mas Law from EOW UK (English – but importantly he gets US, UK and Canadian slang).
Round 1 — Written
Each emcee really needed to make an early impact with their first appearance and they all came out strong. Backed by Czech DJ Back, Basics led the way, singing his intro before rhyming about his time in Prague, ending each line with a word he’d picked up in Czech and the crowd were feeling his efforts. DzonAss came out second to a big reception from his home crowd. He went in over a hard beat with a rapid flow before slowing it down and mixing it up. He flowed right up to the final second and the crowd responded again, clearly feeling how he was reppin’ the country. Osyris came out with one of the hardest verses of the round. With wild wordplay, flow and lyrics, he incorporated the names of the different countries he was competing against and rapped in French (he doesn’t speak it) all over a medley that started with Lauryn Hill’s Doo Wop (That Thing).
He completely killed it. Res Turner came next, holding the level up, spitting over a mashup of the famous Earl and Bob’s Harlem Shuffle intro. Res came with a rapid, machine gun flow, crazy energy and movement, all clearly in sync with his words; at one point he was spitting without the mic! Unfortunately, I think he lost points when he seemed to miss his drop at the start and pulled up his track. It was a shame, but he still went in.
Low G stepped up next and bodied it, starting in English and coming properly lyrical – “I represent the MC in Einstein’s formula” then switched his flow double time in Flemish, then between both languages into different styles, it was crazy. His verse was a bit shorter than the others, causing some confusion when he finished. He was told to go back out for the rest of his time, something that I’ve never seen and didn’t think was necessary.
Dude just took it in his stride though, kicking a dope free like it was nothing. McGyver followed, telling the engineer to turn the lights out, coming out in darkness to Shook One’s part 2. He came out at 100% with crazy energy and a sharp, hardcore flow, running around the stage, jumping off it in front of the audience. He might have come out a bit too hard at the start and tripped on something, but he recovered well and it didn’t really affect his performance. UK champ Gee Bag came out second to last and repped hard. Every time he spits it looks so easy and this was the same. He commanded the stage with confidence and good movement, vibising as he put out his dope wordplay and lyrics, punching along with the sound effects in his verse – the crowd loved that. He also had a good call and response with the audience that really worked. The last emcee for this round was Rox, who came out ready for war! He warmed up the crowd, speaking some Czech, before flowing hard over a raw beat, owning the stage. He took a 4 bar break to walk past his competitors, looking each in the eye; the competition was on!
Round 2 – A Cappella
Again, every emcee brought it in the lyricist’s round and there wasn’t much to pick between each of them. Res Turner used the platform to rep his beliefs, flowing in French, English and some Spanish, using mad sound FX and mime to hit points home. He shouted out the struggle in Libya, Congo, Palestine and more and dropped in English “I can freestyle even without the beat, I am vegan, at the factory I remove the meat”. It was wild, but again, I think he lost points, this time for going over his time limit. Still a dope performance.
Low Gee came with a deep verse about his rhymes transcending language and tapping into his desire to use music to heal people and improve society; “I wanna sample the world’s misery and construct it piece by piece, till I’ve created an imaginary building made from music and inner peace”. One of many crazy lines, also spat in Flemish. McGuyver came with a crazy range of flows, constantly changing the tempo and rhythm, packed full of multi’s and again in two languages. Gee Bag brought a range of flows too, slower but with a lot of swagger. He held down the stage again, moving along with his flows, his wordplay was solid and consistent. Rox came with an animated performance, using the space given to him with the beat missing to really stretch his words and maximise his accentuation.
Basics stepped up next and kept up his good relationship with the Prague crowd going, really interacting with them well. Using some beatbox FX to get attention, he put it down with melodic, multi-toned flows about the contemporary nature of the struggle we face and remaining hopeful and focused. He cut it right on the last second of his count with the line “what is this shit called citizenship” and then when his time was called moved to the crowd and said “make some noise for your presence here quick” – he killed it and the crowd knew it, again showing him mad love.
DzonAss came with some nice flows, with multiple layers of rhyme within lines and varying tempos. He clearly did well but he didn’t get as big a response from a crowd that speaks his language as some others did, so I don’t know if he went in that deep.
The best verse of the round was by Osyris, showing exactly how this round should be done, especially in a world final, giving him a clear early lead. He must have written the verse the night before, because he mentioned things that had happened on every night of that week in Prague, the other nations and emcees in the competition and referenced Czech history, all tied up within some ridiculous wordplay.
“I gotta lotta fire, I can make something outa nothing, I’m Hip Hop’s McGyver
Talking about something outta nothing, peace France,
The cops locked up Sammy Jackets over a trois  plus huit  grams of weed plants,
Locked my man up over an 11g(ee) bag,
That’s why I feel like the homies helpless,
And I’m shouting ‘Free Jackets’ like a Christmas at a homeless shelter”
Round 3 – Grab Bag
Going with the theme that had turned the judges’ seats into dumpsters, the grab bag had turned into a wheelie bin! I don’t know if whoever came up with this was proper English or if this is a thing in Prague too, either way, it worked! With DJ Schock’O laying the tracks, every emcee went in, nobody choked or stopped and all the flows were consistent. Of course, with me not understanding all the languages, I’m kinda biased here and there’s definitely things I missed, but 3 emcees really stood out for me. First was McGuyver who, again, was mad energetic. His flow didn’t break at any point and even though he spoke mostly in Dutch, what he said in English was on point. He kept the crowd entertained throughout too. Instead of going for an item right away he moved the bin around and rhymed about that, before pulling out a guitar and spitting about heavy metal, then pulling out an iron and flowing ‘Iron like a Lion in Zion’ between two other rhymes in Dutch. He also picked up the bin when he couldn’t reach an item and started spitting about its weight! He killed it.
Next was Osyris, who just kept bringing crazy wordplay and punchlines, all on the spot. He pulled out an apple and said it aint as big as the one he comes from – New York’s the big apple if you don’t know – then said “I’m gonna give this to the DJ, you can eat that when you’re done, keep that on replay”. His best line was when he pulled out a scuba diving mask and snorkel that fell apart when he picked them up. While he was putting them back together he spat “I gotta do some construction while I snorkel…kinda like Aquaman working on his house, that’s what I’m about”. That’s a dope line, especially off the top while trying to pick up things that you’ve dropped and are broken.
Hands down though, our boy Gee Bag took this round. He fully lived up to his Goodie Bag alter ego and came with pure antics on the stage. He put a cardboard box on his head and started moving like a robot – the crowd loved that – and then when Metodej tipped the bin for him to reach in he asked “what you want me to get inside of it? I can’t do that I aint that equipt”!! He kept going too, he put the bin on it’s side, went for an item, and then when an orange rolled out he grabbed it, and it went down like this:
“Oranges…mmm I’d love to have a little bit” [takes a bite, spits it out] “Spit it out, I’m on the stage [throws the orange into the crowd] you can get it now”
And that wasn’t even the best part. He pulled out some kebab shop ketchup, put it between his legs and squirted it all over the stage spitting “who want’s to taste my ketchup…aaaaaaargh….I come all over the place, I bus it in your face and you don’t wanna waste”. The brother killed the round and got a ridiculous reaction from the Prague fans.
Round 4 – DJ vs MC
Gee Bag kept the tricks up into this round too. With DJ Back returning for this round, Gee Bag approached it like a full on battle with the DJ. Before he was even announced, Gee was doing a comic book villain laugh over the mic, then came out in a dark side Phantom of the Opera style mask, covering his eyes but leaving his mouth free to spit. The crowd was feeling it, and he went in, telling the DJ he was gonna kill him, mocking his selection and most importantly, flowing easily over everything that got thrown at him, especially the DnB track that came last, going double time and going in. With rounds 3 and 4 Gee had definitely put himself in the running to take the title.
Rox came out on a similar tip, messing with the DJs mixer, trying to throw him off. It was a good idea, but the DJ took his revenge, really making it tough for the Swiss emcee with cuts and switches in crazy places. Rox held it up though, even adding in some dance moves when the beat went into oldskool Electro style.
Basics came out with a whole outfit change – to match the switches the DJ makes – and with a GoPro attached to his mic, so the viewers online could get a mic-eye view. They got a good show too because Basics murdered it, flowing over some Boom Bap, then getting in full party mode over Basement Jacks’ Red Alert and then coming with some wavy flows and singing on some dark newskool dance shit. DzonAss kept the level up too over some Boom Bap, then House and them some more Electro, barely breaking his stride, except for some call and response that didn’t quite work at the speed he was going, but he recovered and kept hitting right to the last count.
Next came Osyris, who started off on an uptempo, uprock Boom Bap beat. He was in his element, dancing, freestyling at a fast pace. The organisers had taken the camera off the mic, and he dropped the killer line “they took that shit off my mic so I guess I’ll never GoPro”!! He went over and started talking to the judges when the DJ upped the tempo to 130⁄140 bpm and my man just switched with it, going double time effortlessly, still freeing. When the DJ switched it to DnB, Osyris took 1 beat breath and then kept going in up to the last count. The crowd went wild, giving the brother the props he deserved.
If anyone could follow that it was Res Turner, and he did. He came in spitting rapid flows over some laid back Neo-Soul then started clowning the DJ, messing with his fader. He upped the tempo of his flows even more before the beat switched into the classic French House track Flat Beat (you’ll remember it from the old advert with Flat Eric) and Res caught it perfectly, flowing between the beats and switching his flow mid track. He kept it going flawlessly over some 140 bpm break beat shit, with his free so dope it sounded written. I don’t know what the lyrics were, but the flow was flawless throughout. Both these brothers killed this round.
Low Gee came out hard on some dark Hip Hop, and switched nicely into some more funky Boom Bap, freestyling in Flemish, doubling his flow up at will. He did well with it, all his tracks were similar tempo, so he wasn’t pushed that hard and didn’t get to go all out, but I think he did well to add variations to his flow in the beats he was given. McGyver also held it down, starting off on some half time 140 shit, he came with a nice flow. He managed to get behind the second set of decks on stage and motioned for the beat to switch just as the DJ did it, it was dope. He kept his flow solid over some and some Electro, getting up close to the crowd, keeping his stage presence up.
Round 5 – Cypher
In most situations, for an emcee of a certain level this round is usually pretty simple, 4 bars and try and link it to the last emcee, but throw in different languages and that shit becomes a harder test. For the final there were 2 cyphers of 4 emcees spitting 4 bars 4 times. The first cypher was McGyver, Gee Bag, DzonAss and Res Turner. Every man went in, doing their thing but there were bits where the changeovers were broken. During one of Gee’s turns, the DJ brought in The Next Episode on a different bar to the beat before, and when Gee finished his verse, Res needed to break to catch the beat. It wasn’t really his fault, and if anything he brought the whole thing back on track, but he might have lost points again for not coming straight in. The same beat caught out McGyver a bit too, at the break down he kept going but not as smoothly as it could have been. On the next time round Gee started a call and response but it finished on his last bar, so he didn’t finish it. Res tried to take it up, but it wasn’t that solid, I think they both might have lost some points there. Despite those slipups, the level was still crazy high, with mad flows, and nobody seriously dropped the ball.
The 2nd cypher was with Low G, Osyris, Basics and Rox and there were no breaks, with more interaction in the verses. It might have been easier because there was more overlap in the languages – they all speak English well and 3 speak French – but that’s the luck of the draw. All the emcees went in. Osyris threw his coat into the crowd and said ‘Free Jackets’, both Rox and Basics managed to reference the other 4 emcees in 4 bars. When they finished the fourth cycle, nobody came out to stop them, so Low Gee kept going. When Metodej came to stop it, Osyris cut him, saying that he knew they were breaking the rules but that it was dope so it should keep going, then Basics stepped up and nonchalantly dropped:
“This was only supposed to be four, but I guess that the whole crowd wants more,
I feel like I just left on a tour, oh my God, make some noise, let’s get sore”.
The crowd went crazy and the vibe was wild. Rox brought it home, got everyone throwing their hands up and the 2017 EOW World Final was complete.
Every emcee had killed it. It seemed mad close to me between a few heads for 1st, 2nd and 3rd place, but I don’t speak all the languages. The judges did between them and they went to calculate the final scores.
Whilst the judges put in their work, the vibe kept going, as the Prague crowd were blessed with a performance from one of the biggest groups in Czech Hip Hop right now, Pio Squad. They moved between different grooves, from Boom Bap to Trap and kept the crowd entertained. They clearly have a big following and some dedicated, hardcode fans, and some moshpits broke out throughout their set.
Metodej called everyone back to the stage to announce the winner, but the way it was introduced took everyone by surprise. A Czech artist called Dowis put on a spectacular show, drawing with light on a huge canvas to create a moving, changing, luminescent dedication to Hip Hop culture, EOW and their influence in the Czech Republic and around the world. It was incredible. Dowis is one of only a handful of artists in the world utilising this technique for performance art – check out the full show here:
With the hype and tension brought up to its height, each emcee was presented with a small canvas with their name graffed on it. There was only the announcement left to make. In 3rd place was our boy Gee Bag, who’d done what he set out to achieve and improve on his 4th place spot from last year. In 2nd was Basics, writing a nearly perfect ending to his first international journey. In 1st place, the deserving 2017 End of the Weak World Champion was New York’s Osyris Antham.
Like always, consistency is key in this competition, and the brother had been dope in every round, clearly winning some and being in the top 3 of most of them. He’d shown throughout the week and this competition the calibre of lyricist, entertainer and versatile emcee that he is and he fully earned the world title. Osyris was presented with a glass microphone trophy as well as a real one made by Lewitt that the trophy was modelled on. Glassware is 1 of the 2 major cultural exports that the Czech Republic is famous for, alongside it’s beer, so the trophy held some real meaning, especially in this arena of cultural exchange. It was another nice touch and a great end as Osyris went into his rap of honour surrounded by EOW fam from around the globe.
The event finished with the headline performance from Chaozz, and their significance and popularity could be seen in the enthusiasm emitted by all the Czech fans inside. They rapped along to all the oldsckool, funky vibes that these trendsetters put down and the performance clearly meant a lot to their supporters. It was a fitting ending to an amazing event and an incredible week. End of the Weak is clearly going from strength to strength and the EOW Prague team have played a major, major role in that. As we move forward to the next season of the EOW MC Challenge in 2018, keep your eyes out for future developments, more countries being brought in and the emergence more talented Hip Hop heads.
To see the whole show in full head to the EOW Prague FB Page on this link:
Photos: Chuck Diesal Photography / Fotograf Milan Seps