When it comes to battle rapping, New York City certainly doesn’t lack in the talent department, churning out would-be lyrical geniuses left and right. On Monday night at Red Bull Emsee: The Road to 8 Mile, a fierce crop of MCs took to the stage at the Bowery Ballroom to claim the title of best freestyle MC in New York. Each wordsmith was eager to earn their ticket to 8 Mile to get a chance to be named best MC in the country by arguably the best rapper alive – Eminem.
On the night of his much anticipated Recovery album release, Eminem gave a staggering performance to a packed house at the Bowery Ballroom and shared the spotlight with a few aspiring lyricists who were competing in the national freestyle rap battle he is curating and directing.
"I’m going to give them something they’ve never seen.” -DNA, winner of the New York event
The Red Bull Emsee competition was an invite-only event featuring MCs PH, Cidida, Kosha Dillz, Kilenm, DNA, Soul Kahn, Sapient and Quest MCody. Throughout the night, the eight hand-picked emcees volleyed through rounds of head-to-head battles and improvised challenges designed to showcase freestyle skills.
Judges Alchemist, Just Blaze and Craig G had their work cut out for them as each MC brought the ‘fiyah!’ In the final round, DNA and Quest MCody faced off in a venomous battle. When it was all said and done, the judges declared DNA the winner. He will be heading to Detroit for the Red Bull Emsee national finals on August 26. As he claimed his regional title, the crowd chanted “D-N-A.”
“Other MCs are going to need God’s help when they battle me in the finals,” warned 19-year-old DNA. “I’m like no other. I’m going to give them something they’ve never seen.”
Special host Angela Yee from Shade 45 kicked off the night while the charismatic D.R.E.S. Tha BEATnik played master of ceremonies and kept the crowd pulsing for hours. Rounding out the night was an explosive performance by recently formed super group Slaughterhouse, who’s members Royce Da 5'9”, Crooked I, Joe Budden and Joel Ortiz captivated the audience with their lyrical prowess and commanding stage presence. While each member is established as a formidable MC in his own right, the group formed in 2009 and released their self-titled debut album which featured the breakout single, ‘The One.’