Kool Moe Dee & Busy Bee Starski
While certainly not the first battle in hip-hop history, Kool Moe Dee and Busy Bee Starski’s two-part bout in 1981 ranks as one of the earliest and most legendary rap battles recorded for posterity. Both MCs had built reputations in their respective neighborhoods—Busy was from the Bronx, and Moe was from Manhattan—which inevitably led to the two battling for microphone supremacy. Although only the first battle was recorded—the recorder broke during the second—Moe Dee recalled that he was crowned the undisputed champion in their rematch a few weeks later. Despite the victory, Moe Dee says he felt like a “bully” for the battle, as Busy Bee was more of a party rocker than a battle rapper.
“There were two [battles], the first was a draw,” Moe Dee recalled. “The kids at Harlem World, when they saw what happened—he got a lotta screams, he had a lotta people from the Bronx there. I had a lotta people from Manhattan that not only werent gonna let me lose, but they were like, ‘Did you just hear that!?’ The rhyme I said was damn near off the top of the head, I was stumbling over it, I wasn’t confident. The reality was I still would’ve won that night, but the Harlem World crew wanted to milk it and bring it back 4 days later…the real secret [of the second battle] that nobody knows is that I felt like shit after that. I felt like a bully in my heart—I knew that he was no contest. He was a party MC; he was a master at his game, but not this part of the game.”
[via Tha Foundation]