Lord Finesse & Percee P
One of hip-hop’s most celebrated and earliest record battles took place in 1989 between rival Bronx rhymers Lord Finesse and Percee P. Prior to the battle, both Finesse and Percee had gained a reputation in their respective areas of the borough for being supremely skilled rhymers. Inevitably, the two caught wind of each others’ prowess on the mic, prompting them to meet up in Percee’s native Patterson Projects to deliver what Finesse described as “the number one battle” of his career. While the battle is remarkable for both MCs’ deft lyrical abilities, what makes it stand out in the lineage of hip-hop is the fact that it was filmed—a rarity in this era of rap.
“When them lyrics came outta [Percee's] mouth and he started spittin’ I was like, what the fuck I just got myself into?” Finesse recalled. “I was fucked up. Like, wow. I never heard a style like that. I never heard a flow like that. I was stuck for a minute. It didn’t take away from what I was capable of doing. But it’s like you’re in a boxing ring and somebody throws a jab at you, and you feel the power of the jab without it hittin’ you, just the way the wind around that boxing glove felt when it was close to your face. You’re like, if he woulda caught me with that—goddamn! I was like, this ain’t gonna be no straight haymaker and I knock him out the ring. We gonna have to really box.”