Red Bull EmSee Challenge: Earth, Wind, and Straight Fire

Sandwiched between the worst earthquake to hit the East Coast in over 100 years and Hurricane Irene, which is expected to cause wide-spread power outages and record flooding in our area, the Red Bull EmSee Challenge made a stop in Philadelphia on Thursday night.

Schoolly D

Eight MC’s threw their name into the ring for the chance to appear at the national finals in Atlanta later this year. In addition to the contestants, the event was hosted by Bun B and celebrity rappers Redman, Schoolly D, and Joell Ortiz judged the competition with Schoolly D & Joell Ortiz also performing for the audience in-between rounds. All in all there was more than enough fire on the mic to combat the earth shaking and wind blowing of Mother Nature.

IP's Jeanette Wons & Freeway

The eight MC’s chosen for the event were DNA, Finesse, Voss, Jawnzap7, Uno Lavos, OHM, Zm, and Mic Stew. Unlike ordinary freestyle battles, The Red Bull EmSee competition format puts a new spin on the traditional rap battle. Random prompts and cues (words or images) appear on screens before each MC’s turn. The MCs need to mention each of the cues in their flow, challenging them to truly spit rhymes off-the-dome.


The MC’s held nothing back, and no topic was off-limits as they waxed poetic about each other mommas, sisters, clothes, breath, and everything else under the sun. The crowd erupted with cheers every time a sick lyric met their ears.

After each battle (which consisted of one minute each for the two MC’s involved) the judges made their decisions and the winners moved on.

Bun B, DNA, Mic Stew (left to right)

After two rounds, two MC remained: DNA and Mic Stew. The finals were slightly different. After each MC took their one minute on the mic, they each had to come up with another 60 seconds of material with no cues and no beat whatsoever from the DJ (Greg Nitty).

When the dust cleared, it was Philly’s own Mic Stew that remained, hands raised like Rocky Balboa.

Joell Ortiz

Once the competition had wrapped (pun somewhat intended) it was Redman’s turn to hit the stage and he wasted little time working the packed house into a frenzy with a slew of well known hits. Philly’s own Freeway, who was in attendance, also got into the action at the end of the night, dropping a few crowd favorites on the Trocadero.


The event, which was filmed for a later showing on the G4 Network, was top-notch. We’ve been working on our own 16 bars ever since, just in case.

You can view a full photo slide show below:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

%d bloggers like this: