There aren’t many classic live Rap battles that are recognised worldwide; Kool Moe Dee vs Busy Bee [There’s one you should know], or if you are a little younger from New York, maybe it’s Supernatural vs Craig G. Alternatively if you are from the West Coast, it’s gonna be the KMEL battle of 18th November 1994. The night two of the Bay Areas’ Rap crews metaphorically went for the throat. The DJs were Prince Ice & Joe Quixx alongside Sway and Tech, and the winner was, well, that all depends on your affiliations and whether or not you took the [off the top] freestyle rhyme issue to heart. You can judge for yourself and read along to the rhymes here.
Casual and the Hieroglyphics crew battled Saafir and the Hobo Junction mob in the Wake Up Show studios at KMEL in Northern California. The beef had been marinating for a minute but no one knew just how animated it was gonna get [‘We shoulda simulcast this tonight’ !]. At one point, Sway had to settle the near fight with quick healing comments like ‘All the real men come to Rap’. The atmosphere in the studio was tense to say the least, at one point King Tech informing the soldiers and the weed carriers in the KMEL studio ‘Yall got to chill, this is a Rap thing, you can fight outside’ !! Sway made it sound like there were literally hundreds of people waiting in the building…maybe there were.
On the mic that night were:
Hieroglyphics : Casual, Tajai, Pep Love & Opio
Hobo Junction: Saafir, King Saan, Big Nous, Mike T & Jullie D
Weeks previous to the KMEL showdown ‘The Honey Presents Showcase’ was where, according to Hip-Hop folklore, Saafir presented Casual’s wallet to him at the end of an on-stage freestyle session [having pick-pocketed Casual while serving him in front of the crowd]. Maybe the cause of the beef was a mixture of pride or just plain show n prove, or according to even more lore, Casual provided evidence for his name, as earlier in the day, he hadn't bothered his arse making a phone call to show up to a studio session with Saafir. Which is rather rude tbh.
Regardless, the results of neither that or the KMEL battle dont seem to have been aired on the web in the past so we thought we’d compile a remix of the full freestyle, and remaster the whole show. The phone lines were opened and listeners had their chance to vote for a winner, but no on-air announcements were forthcoming until the following week. You can hear them for context at Random Rap Radio's remastered version of the battle.
The purity of actual freestyle rhyming is commendable, but if we look back to Harlem World in Christmas 1981, Busy Bee had to accept that Moe Dee wiped his ass with him due to a syllable perfect delivery of a jaw-dropping fully rehearsed Rap. Saafirs vicious styles had the same effect in 1994, pernicious pre-writtens taking out the majority of the Hiero crew. Casual had some great one-liners off the dome, but with Saafir delivering booming pre-writtens like “N----- you still play Pictionary with Mom and Dad/You grew up with wing dings named Buffy and Brad/You used to talk like this, that’s rad let’s go surfing”, there really was no competition.
- Irish Craig @ RandomRapRadio