The host calls us up to the stage. I walk up when I hear my name.
”Coming up to the center square, BEEBOY!” the announcer proclaims followed by a smattering of applause. I earned some respect here because last week I took down King Midas to get my spot tonight. King Midas is the guy with the five times platinum album and all the radio play. His record label is co-sponsoring this event. The fact that I’m getting all this love tonight is pretty cool. It’s quite a boost of confidence. Then the host calls Mogadishu to the stage. Dead silence. He stomps across the club like I’d imagine a T-Rex would while hunting its prey. The crowd is standing stark still as though he actually were a T-Rex and can only spot them if they move. I gotta admit, shit is pretty tense right now.
In the eternity it takes for him to get to the stage it gets to be that all you hear is the sound of his feet stomping accompanied by the faint drum of the crowd’s heart beat and their shallow breaths. His last footstep leaves him standing four feet away from me staring directly at me. Practically looking through me. He has a deep squint as he examines me, I feel as though he’s picking me apart in his mind. Luckily I’m wearing a mask and dark goggles or he might have seen me blink.
Even if he does have lyrics, I’m sure intimidation was a huge part of him making it this far in the battle. His breath is fogging up my goggles from four feet away. He’s got a strategically ripped black T-shirt with a blood red capital letter M in the center with the military stencil lettering style made to look like splattered and dripping blood. He’s got a camouflage T-shirt wrapped around his head like a turban and is sporting a very grizzled beard. The turban matches his BDU pants. To complete his look of menace he had on some “butter tims” the typical Brooklyn boots. Tan Construction Timberlands laced only half way up with the tongue hanging over the front. They look brand new and yet worn out at the thought of being on Moga’s feet. Like he’s somehow kicking his own shoes ass every time he takes a step. I shouldn’t feel sorry for a person’s shoes, but I tell you, I don’t envy being in their position.
The Announcer waits for the noise from the crowd to die down after our introductions. When he feels he has control of the audience he explains the rules of the battle. There’ll be a portion of the battle that we go back and forth for 8 bars apiece. After that we Each have to freestyle based off of whatever the host pulls out of a bag and finally we each have to spit our best a capella, up to 48 bars. I’m a little concerned because this wasn’t part of the last battle and I never put any energy into reciting my verses a Capella. I also generally keep my verses to 16 bars. I guess I’ll have to mash a couple of verses together and hope for the best. It turns out that Mogadishu is up first and he’s relentless from the gate.
He begins by staring me down and gesturing in an effort to make me flinch. His efforts do not go unrewarded. The crowd erupts in laughter and begins to taunt and mock me. It’s not a great feeling. I guess the goodwill I believed I had when I came in didn’t amount to much.
Look who they let out the beehive dressed like the queen
Hey Beeboy, you’re looking mighty good in them jeans
Spray that Raid in your grill, A.K. to your grill
Pest control Terminex put grenades to your grill…
Shit! Mogadishu isn’t just threatening me; he’s also thoroughly going in on my gear and general appearance and quoting Eddie Murphy and he’s only getting started. I expected the threats and all, but not punch lines and wit. Wit delivered stone faces and menacing, but I think I know what to do. All I have to d….
“Ooh,” the audience howls in unison. I don’t even know what this bastard just said. I was thinking too hard about what to say. Now I’m up and I don’t even have a solid strategy. This is not where I want to be at all. But the DJ scratches the record, crosses the fader and plays the next beat. It’s the instrumental to “Shook Ones” by Mobb Deep, usually a crowd pleaser. But I think the DJ is trying to play me because I flinched earlier. Damn, I have to stop over thinking shit. I just gotta go in.
Moga, you pack artillery but lack delivery
I spit, and split you down the middle with symmetry
Your mom must have gotten boned by a Howitzer
Or maybe a gorilla fucked the shit out of her
Explains you, looking like an ape in tank top
All that gun talk But I bet you shoot blank shots
How tough are you now, softer than sponge cake
All you can do now is stand around with the dumb face
On the last line I make a slack jawed dumb face, which is lost on the crowd, because I’m wearing a mask that covers my entire face. They get the gist of it though.
“Get ‘em Bee!”
The Response from the crowd got me open. The two of us were on equal footing now. I was feeling good about this battle again. Then I took a look at his face. It was far from a “dumb” face. It was more of an, “I’m going to thoroughly destroy this Mother Fucker, right here” face, a face that combined hatred, anger, determination and joy. I was the object of this intense emotion. Some people have all the luck.