Nearly one thousand hip-hop fanatics gathered Thursday night to crown area-rapper Phranchyze as Houston’s Freestyle King. Phranchyze will represent Houston in the Red Bull EmSee National Finals in Detroit later this month.
“I feel great about representing Texas; I am the right person to do the job," said Phranchyze. "I feel like I earned it here tonight and I’m ready to keep going; we’re not done.”
In addition to Phranchyze, Red Bull EmSee featured emcees Japanese Jesus, Zeale, Lyriqs the Lyraciss, Mic Skills, Dub Sicks, Lawjick and Core. The art of freestyle was on full display as contestants showcased their verbal dexterity through three rounds of elimination.
The first round tested versatility, as random images flashed on screens for the basis of the battle. Round Two was prompted with audience-texted words appearing on the screens to serve as the battle’s stimulus. Finalists Core and Phranchyze revealed their ultimate lyrical ability in the final round, a traditional freestyle battle that had the crowd eagerly anticipating the coronation.
The competition was judged by some of the hip-hop industry’s top luminaries including revolutionary emcee Rhymefest, Grammy-winning producer 9th Wonder, and hip-hop pioneer Bun B. The judges also flaunted their skills on stage; 9th Wonder and Rhymefest performed much-anticipated sets, and resident star Bun B jumped on the mic for an impromptu presentation to his hometown fans.
“I think the biggest thing that distinguished Phranchyze was his control and his clarity on the mic," said Rhymefest. "His ability to project himself into the crowd, even above his skills, was amazing.”
Phranchyze will join winners from New York, San Francisco, Philadelphia, Orlando, Greensboro and Atlanta at the Red Bull EmSee National Finals in Detroit on August 26, judged by premiere freestyle rapper Eminem at the legendary St. Andrews Hall.