West Coast Elites Lights Out Recap
By Ethan Peschansky
Battle rap events are notorious for being difficult spectating experiences. Battles don’t start on time, fans are forced to wait around for hours, and the lack of a female presence is almost laughable. It puts a lot of pressure on battles to make up for all of this and sometimes the fans are left disappointed.
With their Lights Out event, West Coast Elites brought something unique to the battle rap fan experience. The theme of the night was “pajama party,” and the hosts put together an event that felt more like a kickback or house party with battles included.
“We want people to feel at home. We want our artists to be able to express themselves in different ways” said S.O. Finesse, CEO of West Coast Elites.
There were live performances, women in lingerie, delicious food, and, yes, fire battles. However, the relaxed vibe of the event did nothing to take away from the intensity of the matchups. Although the undercard battles didn’t end up going down, the two main events more than made up it.
The first battle of the night was a one-rounder between 65 Hunnit and RX. Both of the MCs had been trash talking over social media in the weeks prior, and the fans highly anticipated this matchup.
RX went first. Although she her resume was considerably shorter than her opponent’s, RX impressed the crowd with her advanced wordplay and lyricism. With female battle rap in a regrouping phase at the moment, RX will be an exciting name to watch going forward.
“I have a lot of battles booked for this year. I have a lot of people waiting to battle me,” RX said. “I was on maternity leave for a while but I’m back now, and I’m just ready to take opponents.”
Next up was 65 Hunnit. Known for his aggression, displayed the gap in performance between him and his opponent. With his energy and stage presence, 65 was determined to bark on RX for the entire round.
In a battle where gender bias took center stage, 65 Hunnit says he’s “fighting for equality in battle rap” and that men are at a disadvantage when battling against female battlers.
“There is actually facial challenge bias. If you’re a cute female, you’re going to get the gas… while us men have to fight to get our spot,” 65 said. “I think [RX] got some gas. I think she was fire but the gas will overshadow how fire she was.”
As far as the accusation of gas during her performance goes, RX says she earned her crowd reaction and that her skill level was higher than that of 65 Hunnit.
“I think there are gender bias’ in battle rap, but I don’t feel like that was the case in this battle,” said RX. “People were thinking I was going to win based on my skill and people had faith in me I was going to step up.”
In the brief intermission before the next battle started, West Coast Elites provided live entertainment in the form of Mrs. Black Dyamond A successful battle rapper herself; she performed songs from her 2017 album #NoFilterz.
“I got a lot of people in here tonight who know me as MBD the battle rapper, but a lot of people don’t know Mrs. Black Dyamond the female rapper, which comes first before battle rap,” Dyamond said. “My main goal tonight was to make these people fans of my music, and I think we did a good job.”
The live performance was a good change of pace for the event and could become a trend with other events and leagues.
The final battle of the night was between Cali Smoov and TK. Another one-rounder, this matchup far exceeded the already high expectations placed upon it and left fans wishing for a full three rounds.
TK went first. Overall a complete battle rapper, TK performed at an elite level in every facet of battle rap. His aggression and stage presence were both top-notch, while his lyrical content left the room shaking.
“The battle was crazy. In a one-rounder where you go first, you’re at a disadvantage, but I tried to have high energy. I feel like I came out punching,” TK said. “It was a dope battle… I’m looking forward to seeing it on cam.”
Cali Smoov followed up. Unlike many battle rappers, Smoov has achieved some mainstream success through his music and writing. However, he surprised the audience with how well he was able to return to his roots and perform at a high level.
“I’d seen a lot of people question it when I took a year off last year,” said Smoov. “I decided for 2018 I’m going to take a couple of battles and I’m going to go all the way there, no holding back.”
Smoov took longer than TK to build his momentum, but once he started, he wouldn’t stop. In the second half of his round, he landed haymaker after haymaker and even included an angle on TK’s military record that went over well in the building.
“I feel like there’s something more that you can stand for rather than this crooked-ass country,” said Smoov. “I love America, I love the people, I love the freedom that we have, but the political moves and decisions we make are very corrupted… I had to let him know my views on the military.”
Unfortunately, the battle was only one round and TK wasn’t given a chance to respond. While he admits the angle was effective, TK says it was taken out of context.
“I thought the angle was dope, but I haven’t been in the Air Force in five years, so all the Trump stuff he was talking about wasn’t factual,” TK said.
The most contentious battle of the night, it will likely come down to how the fans score it once the footage drops. Although one-rounders are being somewhat phased out of the battle rap culture, TK vs. Cali Smoov should still have plenty of replay value.
With many leagues looking the small room to create a more intimate feel, West Coast Elites is experimenting with different themes to make their mark on the battle rap fan experience.
“We like to create the vibe to have fun. It’s not just a sport. We’re building a whole new flavor out here on the West Coast,” Finesse said.