It’s only fitting that the nation’s most unique lyrical battle, Red Bull EmSee: The Road to 8 Mile, made its third stop on the eight-city tour at Philadelphia’s Trocadero Theatre. This freestyle rap battle of sight and sound, curated and directed by Eminem, honored the Philly rhyming legends that have come before it. The rich history of performance and artistry at the Trocadero set the stage for an audience sensory experience like no other.
Competitors in the Red Bull Emsee Philadelphia qualifier were all hand-picked and included: Philly Swain, MCRey 3, Selena Carrera, Has Lo, Mic Stewart, Afloe, Real Deal and JNDubbs.
Throughout the night, the MCs were challenged to out-wit and out-flow one another in a series of rounds that were designed to highlight the spontaneous creativity of the best freestyler. In addition to the head-to-head battle, MCs were given visual cues of words and themes that they had to integrate into their battle verses.
"I'm not doing this to get a record deal, I'm doin' this to show I'm a true MC." -Philly Swain
Judges Erik Sermon, Dice Raw and Mad Skillz presided over the contentious battles. Philly Swain and Mic Stewart brought the house down in the final battle where the gloves came off and the skills were razor-sharp. While the crowd roared, the judges announced Philly Swain as the winner and gave him a pass to represent Philly in the Red Bull Emsee National Finals in Detroit.
"I look at it like stepping up to the plate to do events like this. I'm not doing this to get a record deal, I'm doin' this to show I'm a true MC," stated winner Philly Swain.
Philadelphia’s own Reef the Lost Cauze co-hosted the evening along with D.R.E.S. Tha BEATnik, who played master of ceremonies. Combined, they kept the crowd of nearly 500 people pulsing for hours.
Dice Raw opened for the much-anticipated EPMD (pictured at top). The legendary hip- hop duo not only had the crowd rhyming every lyric with throwbacks like “The Crossover,” “The Head Banger” and “You Gots to Chill”, but they also educated the audience by giving snippets of hip-hop history between each song.
The Red Bull Emsee tour continues to Orlando on July 29; Greensboro on August 5; Houston on August 12; and Atlanta on August 17 before ending in Detroit on August 26 at the legendary St. Andrews Hall where Eminem will determine the winner of the national competition. In addition to bragging rights, the ultimate winner will earn coveted studio time at the prestigious Red Bull Studios in Santa Monica, California to work with an A-list MC.