Concert Review: Skarlit Rose Hosts Hip-Hop Emcee Battle at Stage 84

Photo by Jasper Delaini
Even those MCs not on the bill got a chance to showcase some skills in the show-opening cypher
Real People Real Hip-Hop Emcee Battle
Stage 84, Davie
Saturday, May 8, 2010

Not quite as geographically challenged as say the Talent Farm, Stage 84 (formerly the Chocolate Moose Cafe) is still positioned pretty far west for a venue hosting hip-hop acts predominantly from Miami and East Broward. Located in the entertainment nerve center of Davie, it shares a plaza with an AMC Theater, infamous country and western bar Round Up, and arcade/amusement center Kabooms.

Despite a modest turnout at Saturday's emcee battle/hip-hop showcase, representatives from several prominent South Florida hip-hop crews were present, including Zulu Nation, Temple of Hip Hop, Vice City Cypher, Benchwarmers Clique and the Retard Asylum. After paying $5 to the night's host Skarlit Rose, I was informed that the festivities would kick off around 11:30 p.m., which in hip-hop time usually means around 1:30 a.m. But true to her word, Ms. Rose introduced J Fortune, the first of several live performers, just six minutes past itinerary to a sit-down crowd of about 40.

DJ Kris Prime kept it interesting with old school and new school classics between the performances, most notably of which were energetic Femcee and co-host Melodik, theatrical call-n-response duo Alphanumerics and the always intense, hyper-political LMS, who just took home gold in Miami's first Emcee Olympics last month. I spoke briefly with Melodik who informed me: "Serum and Lox are suppose to perform too, but it looks like they may not be showing." Show or no show, there was still no shortage of MCs in the building.

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Despite a crowd made up of about 50 percent rappers, the battle started as most battles here often do, with the hosts pleading for more people to sign up. All in all, 8 contenders registered -- including battle vets Surgeon General and H20 and newcomers (at least to me) Logic and Art Morera. After 40 or so minutes of highly entertaining racial slurs, gun talk, momma jokes (on Mother's Day Eve, no less) and homophobia, the last round was to be Art Morera vs J5 of Alphanumerics.

Highly apparent in their joust: they were both extremely intoxicated and had carpooled together to the event. In the end, J5 pulled the win and the cash prize. Although he deserved to win, he initially hadn't intended on competing and was jeered into entering at the last minute by crew mates. In all these years of attending battles, the most impressive thing is still that cats don't punch each other in the face after all that intensely personal trash talk. A true testament to the culture's love and good sportsmanship.

And that brought the event to a close, but as always at a real hip-hop event in South Florida, the end of the night is never the end of the night. The best part of any rap show can always be witnessed without the price of admission. As we all exited Stage 84 the "parking lot rap up" ensued -- beats banging out of windows, blunts being passed, endless debate about the battle's outcome, and lots and lots of rapping.

Post-show cyphers are still where the action is, everybody crowding around a car door, while an instrumental plays, waiting to get their 16 bars in.  Hindu Rock, Charlie Fast, Misk, Warnutz, INF7, Joka Wild, Travisty and way too many more to mention took part. After a group photo, I snuck out to the car and made my escape back to Fort Lauderdale with 20 plus emcees still rapping in my rear view. We still have a long way to go for a hip-hop scene with the cohesion of Los Angeles or New York, but with quality events like this one, there'll definitely be fewer strangers.

-- Jasper "DJ Sensitive Side" Delaini

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