Picture this. You're in your 4th rap battle ever, and your opponent says some shit so crazy that you know that it's gonna go viral. That's exactly what Jaylocke found himself in during the 3rd round against veteran battle rapper Aaron Sawyer. So, how do you beat somebody thatâs went viral? Thatâs easy. Just be so much better than them, that even after the videos and memeâs have go away, people remember you. Also, you have to make them remember what really matters. Winning. Floating around the internet is the clip from of Aaron Sawyers with an animated verse about his opponent Jaylocke. I gotta admit the wordplay was nice. But did it win him the battle? Thatâs what matters. Thatâs what battle rappers are remembered by. Not a hot line. But the number on the left being greater than the number after the line. So let's breakdown the battle:
ROUND 1: Fight
Again, Aaron Sawyer is a veteran battle rapper, so it was only appropriate that he goes first. And in the first round Aaron Sawyer was set out to teach the newcomer the Five Pillars Of Battle Rap. Pilar 1. Disrespect your opponentâs manhood. Pilar 2. Challenge his character. Pilar 3. Schemes, angles, punches, and jokes. Here are a few of those bars:
Next it was Jaylockeâs turn: And straight out the gate Jaylocke had some tricks up his sleeves. First, he talked about hygiene, or possibly the lack thereof under Aaron Sawyerâs sleeves. Jaylocke handed Aaron Sawyer a stick of deodorant. This did get the crowd going. Who doesn't like a well-timed prop? But back to business, it was now Jaylocke who was on the clock. Here's some of the bars that caught my ear:
Round 2. To start off the round, Aaron Sawyer showed that he is a quick witted by using Jaylockeâs previous Madea bar against him. He even showed him how you should use a GWayne bar in a battle rap, while he focused on his Pilar 3. Look at these:
ROUND 3: Finish Him
Round 3. You can't hold back. If you're a veteran in the rap battle game, then you know it's time to leave no doubt. It's time to Finish Him! Aaaron Sawyer started out with Pilar 4 which was angles.
The Scorecard: Finish Him
Drumroll. There were three judges with a split decision of 2-1.
It was a hell of a fight. Both competitors brung their 'A' game. It was a lyrical battle filled with highs and lows. And truth be told, the viral scene helped both battle rappers. My advice to Jaylocke is to project more in his performance and to remember that rap battling is a performance. You need to use different vocal inflections, especially when you come to the punchline. It helps the crowd hone in on the punchline. And my last piece of advice would be for Jaylocke to stand firm and mean mug the fuck out of your opponent. Make him feel uncomfortable with your stare so much that he stumbles. Also, it's important to note, that Jaylocke has so much potential and so much room for growth. So, look out for Aaron Sawyers and Jaylocke's next battles, And one thing is for certain. BATTLE RAPPIN' AIN'T DEAD. THEY JUST SCARED!
âAlso watch the whole battle below and let us know who ya'll think won:
Hip Hop 918 has become one of those events that happens every year that celebrates the culture, the music, and the artform. I know, it’s crazy to see right? Who would’ve thought that Hip-hop would’ve lasted 50 years. More importantly, who would’ve thought that Tulsa, Oklahoma would be the place to celebrate it and bring some of the creators to a town they’ve probably only heard of recently during the Black Wall Street Massacre Centennial. But Hip Hop in Tulsa is happening, and now it’s clear to see, that Hip Hop is getting it’s time in the city they call 918.
Next, we got a glimpse of the new school of hip-hop artists that have the potential to blow up from Tulsa. These students/artists are from the McClain High School Music Program that is taught by Tulsa artist Steph Simon. These kids are truly learning from G.O.A.T.s, And in a short amount of time, they’ve gotten amazing opportunities such as shooting their first music video 4929 (click to see the video), which an ode the address for the school. They also are getting the opportunity to perform on this stage. A huge jump for a first performance. They got to cut their teeth in front of hundreds, you could tell they were living their dreams, and that they had a ways to go before they were truly ready. But some people practice, to get in shape, and some people play, to get in shape. And they were there to win. The performance reminded me of the Wu-Tang posse’ cuts where at anytime there would be 10+ members on stage, all with their own unique swagger. These young artists are talented. But if I had to put on my critique hat for one minute. I would suggest that they not perform with their vocals. We want to hear YOU! But still they're still learning and have one of the best teachers to help them along their journeys. They're gonna figure it out.
One of the best things about the night was getting to see this musical roulette where 4 artists in particular (Jeezmino, K,O, Yung Qwan, and OTS J Huncho) took turns rapping their songs. Starting with Jeezmino, who did what she does. That's rap, rap. She left no doubt that she has bars and is one of the baddest in the game. Every time she steps on the mic, she commands the stage and her respect. With a beat or without a beat you're gonna here her. That's just how sharp her words are. They cut deep.
Next was K.O. What else can you say about K.O.? She’s one of the most versatile, lyrical artists in the state. If you were looking at how much she is booked you probably would think she has to be from Tulsa, or at least OKC. But she’s from neither. She’s from Enid and she reps it loud and clear. Loud and clear is what grabbed the audience's attention so much that there were these audible for “ohhs” from the crowd because of a bar that hit hard. And that’s what you’re gonna do when witness a K.O. performance.
Then we get to Yung Qwan. Yung Qwan came out of nowhere with his new fade instead of the dreads we’ve known him to have. His song selection was dope, even coming to perform his latest track “Rocket Man”. I think all in all it was a good performance. But if I had to put the critique hat back on. I would say that rapping over his lyrics took away from his performance. For example, Rocket Man seems like it has a lot of emotion that the performer needs to get across to the audience. But when you’re hear two different voices (the vocals from the track and Yung Qwan) who are not on the same tempo and sound completely different it’s easier to pick out the mistakes from missed notes and the wrong vocal pitch. It put the microscope that much more on his performance to spot the blemishes. But he's a great artist that can fix that.
Last but not least in this rap roulette was the KING OF THE APES! OTS J. Huncho. His performance was the one that hit the hardest. I mean to see his growth from his first performance to now, is like night and day. When he first started performing, he used his backing vocals as sort of crutch, he had all the bravado, but that couldn't excuse the fact that to be the best rapper as he claimed, that he couldn't rap over his vocals. But now he’s flipped it and used his backing vocals to his advantage to help out with catching his wind and also to switch things up. He's realized that when donig a performance it's not just spittin bars, also there's showmanship. And that's what OTS J Huncho is incorporating in his shows. It's exiting to see this young rapper mastering his craft and rapping straight bars about the town he's from living in. He is the one. OTS J Huncho.
After the roulette was finished another M.C. grabbed the mic. Marcel P. Black. An artist that exudes everything it means to be an M.C. And if you know him then you probably have heard his motto: “Real emcees don’t rap over vocals”. And true to his motto Marcel P. Black performed in pure hip-hop fashion, controlling the crowd with his voice. He even had the crowd 2 stepping to his song. Now if that ain’t an M.C. than I don’t know what is.
Another veteran that came and rocked the stage was Dangerous Rob. His performance more than anything showed how deeply rooted he was in Tulsa hip-hop, as Playya 1000 gave him a dope introduction about being there since the beginning. His performance also showed that he’s a marketing genius as three members of his entourage handed out Dangerous Rob branded shirts, of which the crowd ran to catch and also background workers held up signs. It's clear to see why he's been doing his thing for so long. He even performed his latest track "I Luv You", which showed that the veteran still has a lot left to say.
When you talk about Tulsa Hip-Hop there’s no way you don't mention Steph Simon. He’s been the one in the trenches with the machete clearing the path that soo many artists are now walking behind. He’s not only rapped next to your favorite rapper; most likely he’s booked them. Now if that isn’t a Tulsa King than I don’t know what is. Which is exactly what his accapella freestyle was about. Being the Tulas King. And as he said in the chorus, “Tulsa Kings run the world and Tulsa queens run the world”. From Steph Simon’s first song, to his last, he moved the crowd. He was in his Best Mood. He’s clearly in his 100,000 hours of practice and it shows. It’s his commanding presence, and his ability to move the crowd that moved the legend Eric Sermon to speak to Steph Simon after the show. Cause Steph Simon Is Hip-Hop.
Last but definitely not least was the legends EPMD (which stands for Erick and Parrish Making Dollars) made up of the rappers Erick Sermon (“E Double”) and Parrish Smith (“PMD”) and DJ Diamond that hell from Brentwood New York. This is where our hip-hop lesson begins. But not where it ended. Because throughout their performance, not only were they playing their hits, but they were also teaching lessons. Lesson 1. Pure New York Hip hop. Say we don’t rhyme over vocals. As noted earlier in the article. It's doesn't help. Lesson 2. Hip-Hop means you have a dj. And it was with this lesson that DJ Diamond showed his mastery of the turn tables by scratching and even doing various tricks while the spotlight was on him. And last but not least. Lesson 3: Never forget the ones who came before you. EPMD ran thru some of the most classic Hip-Hop tracks, that no matter what generation you’re from, no matter what side of the train tracks you’re from. You respect it. Cause it’s Hip-Hop!
So that sums up Hip-Hop 918 2023. You can’t tell that you don’t have a reason to go next time. It’s a free event that celebrates one of the biggest genres in the world. And you get to see some of the legends in the game do what they do best. Hip-Hop. Just as important, you get to appreciate the amazing hip-hop scene and artists that we have right here in Tulsa. Continue to support these artists by showing up to their shows and buying their music and merch. And by the time that the next Hip-Hop 918 rolls around you’ll be a believer that Tulsa IS SO HIP-HOP!
If you ever had the honor of being invited to a dj noname. event then you know just how huge of a deal it is. It’s like the Don Corleone sending you an invitation. And if The Don sends you an invitation, then you go. It’s an offer you can’t refuse. So, when I got the text from The Don, dj noname. I greatly obliged to show up to what was the dj noname. Residency at Mercury Lounge.
“It's not personal, it's business”. And for dj noname. business is good. He’s worked with the best artists in Oklahoma. I’m talking Steph Simon, 1st Verse, Earl Hazard, Bambi, DialTone, and the list goes on. And let’s not forget Snackin’ With Flavor with Keng Cut. It’s a masterpiece that stands alone in the dj noname. trophy case. And the unreleased projects are just as talked about as the tapes that are out. Another thing is that he also takes care of business as seen with his proud to pay campaign on BandCamp. Let's be honest. You get more money from BandCamp than you do from streaming. It's not even close for an independent artist. And those that know, know, It's good business.
"Power Wears Out Those Who Do Not Have It." And dj noname. has the power. It shows, especially when it comes to his residency shows. It’s nothing but heavy hitters! The level of talent that he is able to get on one ticket speaks to just how much power he has. Every time I go to a show and speak to an artist about how they first collaborated with dj noname., the conversations usually start with, “noname. sent me these beats and I was inspired.” And it's this inspiration that has gotten artists to start recording again or even back on stage. Even the audience members are filled with people who come to show their respect for an artist who has the power to make things happen. The man has his own socks! Tell me one dj in the game that has power like that.
“Just When I Thought I Was Out, They Pull Me Back In." That’s how you feel when you go to a dj noname. show. Just when you think there is no other way the night can get better, dj noname. always throws in a curve ball. For example, unreleased tracks. I remember hearing “Best Mood” by Steph Simon at a dj noname. show., I swear I was close to leaving the party, but was pulled back in when the beat came on. "I'm the throwin' money out the sunroof, feel like I caught my second wind, I'm in my best mood, if I don't touch a mil this year, it's cause I touched 2". That's a short recap of how it went down. Everyone in the crowd rapping that part, while people who may have never heard the song watched in awe. And that’s what happens at a dj noname. show. You don’t wanna leave.
"Some day, and that day may never come, dj noname will call upon you.” Trust me. You don’t want to let down The Don. He has the power, he has the juice in the town. It's shown be his consistency to get some of the best artists in the town to not only jump on his tapes but to also come out and perform. So go! The music is going to pull you in. And if you haven’t gotten an invitation yet, don’t worry. It’s not personal. Show up anyway and believe me one day you gonna get that message. And when you do. Do me a favor, and answer the call.
And until then.... I'm in my "Best Mood".
It would be incorrect to say that I knew where my ancestors came from. We of African descent oftentimes just generalize that we are from Africa. But is that true? Some of us can only guess. Some may try to use Ancestry.com as proof. But is that true? We can never truly confirm because of our history. A history that was erased. But one history that we never really cherish as much as we should is the one that can be traced. The one that's often only 1 to 2 generations behind. That's the history of the black cowboy. A legacy that has recently been getting the appreciation that it should have been getting all along. And three filmmakers Kian (35-0), Video Hereo, and Nicole Jocleen captured just that in their film called Riding Legacy. And I had to seize the opportunity and see just what this film was about.
If you have Netflix than you've probably watched Concrete Cowboy, a movie that documents black cowboys passing down the traditions and skillsets to the younger generation. What's most compelling is that this ranch is in the city. But if you have ever been to the northside of Tulsa then you've also seen horses. Just like in other small black towns over Oklahoma, you can see cowboys riding their horses on street blocks. But it's not until you watch Riding Legacy that you realize just how deep the roots of black cowboys go.
So, you might be thinking, there's always been black cowboys in movies. That's where you'd be wrong. Hollywood has traditionally whited out our black heroes'. Even the cowboys. One example is the famous 'Lone Ranger' who was actually based off the black sheriff Bass Reeves. Reeves had been born a slave but escaped West during the Civil War where he lived in what was then known as Indian Territory and is historically noted as the first black deputy U.S. marshal west of the Mississippi River. He worked mostly in Arkansas and the Oklahoma Territory. I say that to say, we didn't learn that in school, but we did know about Jesse James and Buffalo Bill, and all the other white people who shaped the west. Our history is so rich. That's what community tells you that academic books won't.
Riding Legacy took you deep into what it was like to be a black cowboy. That's something that we take for granted as spectators of the sport. The time away from family, the injuries, the buy ins to even compete, the time in the gym to train your body, and most importantly the legacy. What most captured my attention is seeing the legacy of the riders competing. We're talking generations deep, 5th and 6th generations of cowboys still carrying on the family name. That's what Jay-Z rapped about. Legacy, Black excellence baby, you gon' let 'em see. We saw cousins, brothers, sisters, old and young all competing. We saw the family rivalries, few people know why, but best believe the rivalry is still alive.
Another thing I really liked is how film highlighted the female cowboys. You get to see just what they deal with when competing. You see their strength. You see their competiveness. You get to see them as the athletes they are. Because just like their male counterparts they also deal with injuries and the heated moments. There's even been times when women cowboys have been known to compete in men competitions. These women show just how much heart they have and often are fighting to keep their family names going for generations to come. One of the women cowboys spoke about being pregnant while still competing but not knowing about it. That makes her way stronger than a man in my book.
The riding legacy also showed how the black rodeos are similar to the chitlin circuit that so many black stars came up out of. It is the small black towns that host these events and are filled with the rich history of black cowboys. These cities include Spencer, Oklahoma City, Taft, Okmulgee, and others. These small-town shows have birthed black cowboys that have went on to compete and win on the big stages like the PBR (Professional Bull Riders organization) and other places where the big sponshorship money is. But you can always come back home and see Riding Legacy.
Check out the Riding Legacy Q&A session at Circle Cinema's Film Festival below.
After watching the documentary, I came back with a sense of pride. And I made it a mission to go to the Okmulgee rodeo and see the legacies right there carrying on their family names and the spirit that is the black cowboy.
Of course, everyone stayed for the Pony Express event. An event that is unique to the black rodeos and has gained popularity over the years.
So next time you hear about the black rodeo events. Go out and support. Believe me, you won't regret seeing the community that has been built and the legacy that is the black cowboy.