Hunger 4 Proving Grounds Event Recap
By Ethan Peschansky
Entering the Proving Grounds is one of the most critical decisions a battle rapper can make. It’s career changing. It’s a chance to join the Ultimate Rap League and prove yourself on the most respected platform in the world.
Many MCs made their names there. T-Top, JC, B-Magic, Brizz Rawsteen, and many others are products of the PG process. Although they don’t attract as much attention from the battle culture at large, Proving Grounds battles are where up-and-comers create memorable moments in a small room setting.
And that’s exactly what happened at the Hunger 4 PG event.
On Saturday, the Lexington Theater hosted the URL’s first Los Angeles event of the year. The card featured some of the top rising stars from all over the Western Conference.
“We made a focal point of showcasing some of the newer guys who had never actually been on a URL card before… I think a lot of them showed up,” said KG the Poet.
Some of these new names include the likes of K Philosophy, Saynt, and Real Name Brandon. Others, like XP, Kid Clutch, and Da Spot, are PG veterans looking for their next breakout performance. Despite the differences in their resumes, every MC who performed had one thing in common: they all showed up ready for a fight.
Although the scheduled One-Off battle between Th3 Saga and Emerson Kennedy was canceled due to Saga’s flight being delayed, there were few disappointments after that.
Willie G vs. Dev Da Demon
The first battle to go down was between the two tryouts Willie G and Dev the Demon. Fans weren’t sure what to expect. Both are relatively unknown in the battle culture with only three battles and around 6000 views between them. However, they proved that two newcomers can still put on a show.
Willie performed decently, although a few mental mistakes showed that he still needs more seasoning before advancing further. However, it was Dev the Demon who impressed, landing punchlines and showing poise that was surprising for someone with only two battles under his belt.
“It means a lot [to do a PG]. It means I belong… I’m from the Bay Area, and our styles are different, and I’m glad to know [the crowd] fucks with me,” Dev said.
If these two can show improvement, they’ll have a chance to return for another PG.
K Philosophy vs. NXT
The next battle was between K Philosophy and NXT, a textbook example of a style clash if there ever was one.
NXT is becoming well-known for his aggression and focus on gun bars, an effective combination that’s reminiscent of fellow URL rising stars Nu Jerzey Twork and Rum Nitty. On the other hand, K Philosophy’s more unorthodox lyricism and stage presence have helped him stand out in a talented Western Conference PG class.
This battle was close, and will likely come down to preference. NXT came out firing on all cylinders in the first round, quickly showing the difference in performance between the two MCs. However, K Philosophy didn’t flinch under NXT’s aggression. He maintained his composure, and the crowd appreciated his versatile lyricism.
All in all, one of the better battles of the night and a good look for both MCs.
“I never thought that I would even get a PG,” K Philosophy said. “It’s a lot of hard work, a lot of blood, sweat, and tears that went into it.”
Real Name Brandon vs. Fixx
Another bout between first time PGs, Real Name Brandon vs. Fixx went from being a sleeper matchup to Battle of the Night. Real Name Brandon impressed the with his aggression and performance, commanding the stage with his superior presence. However, Fixx fought back hard and went punch for punch with Brandon, creating a back-and-forth battle that was too close to call.
One thing is for sure, the Proving Grounds recruits on the East Coast are going to be hard-pressed to recreate a performance this entertaining.
“It’s that stepping stone,” Fixx said when asked about the PGs. “I always watched Smack when I was younger, before he was even doing battles. It’s like that step up, and I’m ready to take that.”
YD vs. Saynt
The next matchup, YD vs. Saynt, was one of the more highly anticipated battles of the night.
A known commodity of the Western Conference, YD has put in steady work on leagues such as The Riot, West Coast Elites, and Shots Fired Battle League where he battled for the title against Ron Compton.
On the other hand, Saynt is one of the more high profile battlers to enter the Proving Grounds. A rising star of the Los Angeles scene, Saynt’s resume already boasts appearances on King of the Dot, including battling at the Bunker against Geechi Gotti and Eddy I at World Domination.
Although new to the PGs, Saynt believes he can make the transition to the URL.
“I want everybody to fuck with me,” Saynt said. “Battle rap is a divided fanbase… I want them both [KOTD and URL fans] to fuck with me.”
As far as the battle itself, Saynt’s performance was almost flawless. In his first two rounds, he put on a clinic of wordplay and aggression that proved to everyone present that he isn’t a typical PG. However, he had a mental mistake in the third round that he couldn’t overcome and had to cut his round short.
“I fucked up because I thought I was spitting some old shit. It turns out I was rapping the right shit,” Saynt said. “If they still manage to drop the shit, n***as is gonna know what’s up.”
YD was still entertaining and consistent throughout his performance. He kept the battle close and was able to capitalize in the third round when Saynt was unable to continue.
Regardless of this battle’s imperfections, both Saynt and YD likely earned another matchup and will be interesting names to watch going forward.
XP vs Aktive
Next up was XP vs Aktive. Both MCs are veterans on the Western Conference and even have appearances on bigger leagues like King of the Dot. Two street talk specialists, XP and Aktive weren’t just battling with bars, but also with believability.
Aktive started off with a solid first round but had to fight through some mistakes and slip-ups during his performance. XP, on the other hand, took advantage and had better bars and stage presence overall.
“To me, Aktive’s best round was his first round, so if anybody wants to give him that round that’s cool,” XP said during a recap. “But I feel like I got 2-1 at least maybe 3-0.”
Da Kid Clutch vs Da Spot
With Emerson Kennedy and Th3 Saga canceled, the battle between Da Spot and Da Kid Clutch became the new main event of the night. Even with that added pressure on the MCs, neither one disappointed.
Clutch and Da Spot are no strangers to the PG process. Clutch’s most recent URL performance was against Yung Griz at the Survivor Series LA event, and Da Spot battled Lil Kayo at Traffic 3: Day One. Regarded as two of the brightest stars on the West Coast, their matchup was highly anticipated.
Clutch did what he does best: street talking and wordplay. Maintaining his stage presence throughout the battle, Clutch kept the pressure on Da Spot all night and delivered a classic third round.
However, while Clutch was talking about the streets, Da Spot was the one who left Earth. The fans, the battlers, everybody in attendance was surprised by the drastic improvement Da Spot has made in such a short time. He possessed poise and polish rarely seen from an MC with his level of experience.
“[Da Spot] leveled up. He ain’t never rapped like that,” Clutch said. “That’s what I want to happen. I want n***as to come in there and not play with me because I’m not playing with them.”
After this performance, Da Spot is going to be on the URL’s radar as someone who deserves a bigger name.
An overall successful event, fans will be looking forward to what KG the Poet and the URL West team plan next.
“We want to do something in May, June, around that time,” said KG the Poet. “We want to have a two-day event; we want to have a couple of two-day events this year.”
With the Western Conference on the rise, many of these MCs will find their way onto these future cards in what should be an active year for the URL West.