This review’s gonna be kinda mad…it’s kinda of my own event! 29th June 2017 marked the third heat of the End of the Weak UK 2017 emcee challenge upstairs at The Ritzy cinema Brixton. I think we can call this round the veterans heat! Three of the emcees in the challenge I’ve been watching and cyphering with since I first came on the scene and the other, if not as well known in London, has definitely been honing the craft for a while.
1 – 2xplicit
One of my first experiences of a real, underground, UK Hip Hop event was one of the early Speakers Corners – those legendary nights that would eventually become the platform for EOW UK. On that night, one of the standout lyricists on the open mic was a brother called 2xplicit. Profound content delivered within technical, carefully constructed flows and wordplay was what shone light on him that night and has for over 10 years. Also an accomplished freestyler and deep thinker my money was on 2X to take the win, but it wasn’t ever gonna be easy…
2 – Emerge MC
Another brother I’ve known for a long time, the Ginger General aka Emerge MC has a rich history in our scene. One of the earliest members of the People’s Army and hardest working soldiers, he has produced a lot of content of the years and is always unashamedly himself. He has been battling since the beginning of his journey and has become more and more accomplished in both his songcraft and clashing in recent times. He just became the Battle Scars 2017 champion and he said before the event that he was looking to do the double by taking the EOW title too.
3 – Deekay
Another regular member of the EOW, Battle Scars and open mic scene of London for years, DeeKay is an emcee with a long relationship with battling and freestyling. As Mas Law will never stop telling you, she’s one of the best to ever do the grab bag round. Having killed the round on so many occasions, she uses her quick wit, insight and lack of shits to give to make the crowd react every time. Deekay has produced a lot of good tracks over the years and has also been featured in TV documentaries.
4 – John Clarke
After being born and raised in different parts of South America for the early part of his life, John Clarke’s family eventually settled in the UK and he now lives in Brighton. He first discovered Hip Hop listening to Run Dmc as a small child as he played and caught the vibe instantly. Since that day he’s known he wanted to write lyrics and he has been working on his personal version of Hip Hop and spoken word poetry ever since.
With this calibre of challenger, you’d expect the standard to be high and the emcees held up that expectation. There wasn’t much to choose between any of them in the written round. 2xplicit came with some soulful, insightful vibes (man even sang!), Deekay kicked a jokes verse about her neighbour who’s a crazy bitch, while John Clarke showed why he shouldn’t be underestimated in this line up of vets. Emerge took the round though, with a deep track about battling himself and his inner demons, talking about a side of himself that he’s spent his adult life trying to control.
The a cappella round was the best of the heat, showing just how good these emcees are. Each one was so dope I wouldn’t say there was a winner. Deekay started it off spitting with her with her signature wit and punchlines, flipping up her into double time and back. The verse was straight bars but she touched on subjects, the most interesting being her dislike for the term ‘femcee’. Emerge put the type of political commentary he’s known for as a People’s Army member, explaining his views out on the fuckry done by the system that’s oppressing us and critiquing our own attitudes and action in trying to combat those issues. John Clarke took us on a deep, dark trip into his memories and personal history – spitting in a folk-poet style to delve into his psyche and show it to the world. 2xplicit took the mic and opened with the expression ‘you are love’ before describing the interconnectedness of humanity and the universe and what that means for individualism and collectivism. It was a serious round and properly showed that we had proper lyricists in this heat.
Black Santa Kissy K hit the stage for the grab bag round…and shit went down! John Clarke and 2xplicit did their thing, had no problems and managed to hold the levels up, but Dee Kay showed why she is a master of this round. With every item she kicked a punchline that kept the crowd laughing – the best being about a carrot and a dildo! She was only outdone by Emerge, who was in is element. The Ginger General in full geezer-rapper mode used the items perfectly, ripping into Kissy and himself and had the whole crowd bussing up. The best part came with a magnifying glass, with Emerge saying it’s what ladies need to see Kissy’s…manhood! Killed it.
The next 2 rounds kept the standard high, Jazz T successfully trying to trip up the challengers in the DJ vs Emcee round. Jazz is the best/worst at this, but all the emcees handled it and nobody chocked or gave up. The cypher round was dope, with again no one really standing out – just 4 dope emcees freestyling off each other’s last word, with a lot got said about Deekay and Emerges ginger hair! The contest was serious and extremely close, and like heat 1, it showed just how good this contest is when you have this level of participating emcees.
While the judges compared their scorecards, myself, Apex Zero, hit the stage to perform tracks from my upcoming EP ‘All and Nothing’. Alongside me were my brother OMeza Omniscient from First and Last and a brother who’d flown in from Beijing to be part of the show – NY native Jackson Turner. Now I’m not the kinda dude to be writing about how dope I am or how lit my show was…so I’m just gonna say I was happy with how it went down. The venue was full of family and supporters who got involved, which I love, and I received beautiful energy from the crowd – especially during my new tracks ‘21st Century Enslavement’ and soon to be released ‘Flying High’. My brothers both killed their parts, with OMeza performing on ‘Key to Our Survival’ and Jackson joining me on ‘Flying High’ and our next collaboration ‘Face the Morning Sun’ that’ll feature on his new project. Look out for videos from both those tracks coming soon on Global Faction, and the EP ‘All and Nothing’ that will be released soon on Design Chaos and DB Bros Records.
After our performance the results were announced. Similarly to heat 1, where the level was equally high, the scores were ridiculously close. Each emcee had been consistent, which is the key to winning this challenge, so with that point made, it was about who had stood out the most in each round. The winner was rightly Emerge MC. He’d taken more rounds than anyone else and had shown just how much he has matured as an emcee and an artist. He now fully owns his political-geezer persona and can move between serious topics and comedy like it’s nothing. He won a really difficult heat here, and has put himself in a great position to win EOW UK 2017 – what he describes as UK Hip Hop’s Champions League. He’s definitely at that level and this performance proved it.
The next heat, which was actually performed before this was published (due to time constraints – I was touring China fam…low me!), featured an EP launch from Frshrs and another dope line up of emcees on July 27th. It’s too late to say make sure you reach, but definitely check out the review and footage coming soon.
The fifth heat will be on August 31st back at the Ritzy and the 2017 EOW UK final – with the line up for the climax of the UK EOW Season shaping up to be dope as fuck – will be on September 15th at Hootanany, Brixton.