Stacks Image 14

Stacks Image 12

I was captain on #TeamPreem and there is no disputing that. He's my GOAT and that's also not up for debate. You can't show me any producer that had a better string of years than he did in 1994, 1995 & 1996. But it's that thinking that made a lot of us forget what RZA was capable of. Both producers are at the same level, yet, The RZA is an international celebrity. He's done movies. He pals around with Quentin Tarantino. He's worked with Jim Jarmusch. He was Samurai Apocalypse on Californication. The RZA is on Bill Murray's speed-dial. So you can see RZA is this polarizing figure and DJ Premier, while still the GOAT, is this humble, hospitable teacher of hip-hop. Last night, he was just as much a fan of the battle as we were. And that is the reason I felt he got slightly edged-out by RZA.

Can you imagine if RZA had played 4th Chamber? Maybe Reunited? What if DJ Premier didn't use his heart and went with his head and had played Codes of The Streets instead of M.O.P.'s Breaking The Rules? What if he dropped the needle on You Know My Steez, Full Clip, Next Level Remix, D. Original, Right Where U Stand or even Take It Personal?

The selections at times were questionable. This is a battle and as much as we all love most of the tracks played, a battle needs to have a different approach. You're already facing the leader of The Wu. A person everyone knows. My mother even knows who RZA is, but I don't think she could tell me who Preemo is. They make fucking bedroom POSTERS of The RZA. I know, I still have my Bobby Digital poster from 20 years ago.

The night started off weird. In typical RZA fashion, he showed up late. DJ Premier had to stall and like a true professional, he catered to the hip-hop celebrity crowd by rattling off a list of who's who checking-in. DJ Premier has that infectious smile and big belly laugh, so he is always well-liked among people, even those who were throwing up the W last night. He played challenger and host and he was completely in awe of what was going down. Specifically, he was in awe of his challenger, The RZA. Then there were the audio issues. The whole production of 36 Chambers made sense last night. RZA just didn't seem to have a grasp on sound quality for the first 40 minutes or so.

The crowd participation was the best. You had everyone from LL chiming in to Black Thought who was Team RZA all the way. For a guy who has never been on a RZA track and has worked with Preem, he didn't hide his Wu fanboy last night. Westside Gunn had some hilarious comments about selling crack to a Preem track. Basically, everyone who was anyone was logged in to witness history.

DJ Premier had to be perfect in order to win. He had to come out swinging and not let up. Think Iron Mike Tyson. He needed that eye of the tiger. He needed to establish an early lead and be extremely strategic on what to play and when to play it. Sequencing was key here. RZA understood that and he had control of this all night. If you go too new you lose the audience. If you go too obscure you lose the audience. If you don't play the hits, you're simply wasting bullets.

I haven't stepped outside my home in weeks and ain't got shit to do, so I am breaking this down round by round.

Round 1: Liquid Swords vs. A Million And One Questions = DJ Premier
Premier was smart to include Jay early on. It's crazy to think, but a lot of people watching were there for RZA and aren't as familiar with DJ Premier, so reminding folks who he's worked with was key. It's not that Liquid Swords isn't better, it could be, but this was Jay-Z and you don't lose with Jay-Z!

Round 2: Method Man vs. Breaking The Rules = RZA
I don't know what Preem was thinking but I was legit nervous for him after this point. I love M.O.P. but this wasn't the time to play it and if you are playing M.O.P., there are at least 4 songs I would have chosen off Firing Squad rather than this one. Preem let his guard down and got knocked down by doing so.

Round 3: Maria vs. Mathematics = DJ Premier
This was a much needed round for Premier. RZA is sometimes so in his own world and aloof, that at this point he was just toying with Premier.

Round 4: Wu-Gambinos vs. The Enemy = RZA
The heads looooooooooooooooooooved that he played Big L and I'd prefer to listen to that over Wu-Gambinos today, but suddenly that nostalgia drug kicked in and we all realized just how sick this track was when it came out.

Round 5: Run vs. MC Act Like They Don't Know = RZA
Make no mistake about it, MC's Act is a better track. That beat is ridiculous but DJ Premier was losing momentum around this time and you had the quasi-celebs in there going insane once that Run beat dropped. Thoughts of robbing liquor stores kept poppin' up in the comments and the fact that Jadakiss was in the room was huge for the win that was based solely on the crowd.

Round 6: Shame On A Nigga vs. Real Hip-Hop = RZA
This wasn't even fair. RZA wins again and is on a win streak!

Round 7: Protect Ya Neck vs. Livin' Proof = RZA
It should be a tie. Livin' Proof is probably the best produced album of all-time, but the energy off Inspectah Deck's verse was a LOT different than the energy of Lil Dap.

Round 8: Cold World vs. Devil's Pie = DJ Premier
This was an easier win for DJ Premier. He could have came with some ether to really win back some folks, but Devil's Pie was a conservative play giving the D'Angelo association.

Round 9: Method Man vs. Just To Get A Rep = RZA
My fear was that many people recognized the beat from the TV commercial. It's a classic track but the charisma of M-E-T-H-O-D is hard to beat.
Round 10: Motherless Child vs. D'Evils = DJ Premier
Jay-Z is an automatic W. Well played, pun intended.
Round 11: Verbal Intercourse vs. Nas Is Like = DJ Premier
The crowd seemed to go crazy anytime anything of "The Purple Tape" was being played. Unfortunately, that went for DJ Premier too. At times, he was more hyped to hear what RZA played than what he was playing. Nas Is Like should have won by a landslide but it did not. The RZA win steak in the first 10 rounds might have been the difference maker in the battle.

Round 12: Buck 50 vs. The ? Remainz = RZA
DJ Premier played just 3 Gang Starr tracks and this was one of them? WTF!

Round 13: Ice Cream vs. Unbelievable = DJ Premier
This was a lot closer than you think. But once the introduction of Biggie was made, it started to change the direction of the battle.

Round 14: Brooklyn Zoo vs. Come Clean = DJ Premier

The ODB factor was huge last night. Who didn't love Ol' Dirty but RZA did not produce this track. It was True Master and those in the know immediately pointed it out. Unfortunately, I don't think that most knew or cared at that point. I gave the round to DJ Premier for the better song and the fact that RZA technically cheated. The crowd, though, seemed to give it to RZA.

Round 15: Shimmy Shimmy Ya vs. Kick In The Door = TIE
The whole dynamic changed when ODB was brought in. Two fallen soldiers with two classics and iconic beats, so this was a tie.

Round 16: Long Kiss Goodnight vs. Above The Clouds = DJ Premier
You'd think Long Kiss won based on how Premier was acting but this was Deck's moment and a win for Preemo.

Round 17: Assassination Day vs, NY State of Mind = DJ Premier
Finally, some Ghost. This was an easier win for DJ Premier but he should have used this track for something better. This was his ace and used it at the wrong time despite winning the round.

Round 18: Criminology vs. DWYCK = RZA
Again, DJ Premier was practically telling people to vote for Criminology. That's why Preem isn't a battle DJ. He is way too nice. DWYCK is an all-time classic but Criminology wins because not everyone in the audience was 40+ last night.

Round 19 Incarcerated Scarfaces vs. Boom = DJ Premier
The power of The Purple Tape was real. But BOOM wins, barely.

Round 20: You're All I Need To Get By vs. 10 Crack Commandments = RZA
It's hard to compete with Meth and Mary. RZA set this up perfectly and knew this was gonna be a lethal blow.

Round 21: CREAM vs. Mass Appeal = RZA
I can't believe I'm saying this because Mass Appeal is my favorite Gang Starr track and among my top 10 hip-hop tracks of all-time, but at this point all the momentum was with RZA. When CREAM came on, the battle seemed over. Mass Appeal should have been dropped earlier on to set the tone. Premier waited too long and was playing defense at this point.

Round 22: Ain't Nuthin To F*ck With vs. Return of The Crooklyn Dodgers = DJ Premier
Most people gave it to Ain't Nuthin, but Return is one of the greatest beats DJ Premier has ever done. I'm not sure it got the praise it deserved in the comment section but there was no way I wasn't giving this round to DJ Premier.

Round 23: Dark Fantasy vs. Classic = RZA
This was the moment I realized that no matter what happened after this round, RZA won the battle. He was at times either uninterested or unaware of what DJ Premier was playing. It got to the point he was messing around and said, let me bring Kanye in this shit because who's bigger than Ye? And guess what - it worked. So many of us forget about this one and it was a TKO at this point.
Round 24: Triumph vs. Represent = RZA
DJ Premier had no chance after this. Represent could have been used instead of Breaking The Rules or Real Hip-Hop, but he used it against Triumph. Nothing was going to beat this!

Round 25: Tanasia vs. Friends or Foe = DJ Premier
The fight was over before this round and RZA at this point is just kinda staying around after the fight to talk to the fans. About 30,000 people had logged off after this was played. Obviously, Friends or Foe wins but DJ Premier was using his Jay-Z card too late in the match.

Round 26: It's Yourz vs. So Ghetto = RZA
The better song is So Ghetto but everyone was already lifting up RZA in the ring and handing him the belt. The momentum was completely in his favor.

Round 27: Gravel Pit vs. Ain't No Other Man = RZA
The round I wish didn't happen. In fact, after 24 they should have ended this. This was the low point of the evening. This was a battle and they out here playing Bar Mitzvah joints.

Round 28: A Better Tomorrow vs. I Gave You Power = DJ Premier
This was the ‘is anyone still out there’ round. Most people had faded and you could tell RZA just wanted to be done with this battle and chow on some God Degree.

FINAL SCORE: 14-13-1
Winner: RZA