Poison Pen, why do you think battle rap is so appealing for men aged 18-34?
Poison Pen: You gotta keep in mind the mindset of the average guy in that age range, that young adult to just becoming a man. And we’re aggressive, we hungry for competition. It’s like a sport. You have your favorite sports team, you have your favorite MCs. And most of these people aren’t being fed by watching television. They’re not turning on MTV and getting what they want, so they go to the Internet. People gravitate toward what we do because it’s pretty much the rawest form of hip-hop and competition that you can get. And that’s pretty much what any male in that age range is all about. They’re about hip-hop competition. It’s about bravado, and that’s pretty much what you get in a rap battle.
Do you think battle rap has progressed to a point where it’s appealing to different groups?
P: Definitely. Look at how it’s exploded. Before there was just rap battles, but there was really no categorization. And now there’s different types of battle rap. URL is more street, I don’t wanna call it gangsta, but it’s street. And then you have the Grind Time thing, which is more of a variety. With the RBN thing, well if I’m booking RBN, I’m looking for a variety, but just the best of each format. So it’s definitely different because you can go to different channels and get different kinds of battle rap, where as before that was not even an option. You can go on YouTube any day, and there’s always a new battle, there’s always people witnessing this for the first time. So you go to Brooklyn for the Queen of the Ring event, and people that just come out in droves just for that. You go to the URL events and there’s people waiting outside from 8 in the morning, just because they have to witness the event. And we can build the same exact thing with our own unique take of an MC battle.
How do you see this benefiting the artist?
P: For the most part, battle MCs are known as being battle MCs. And with the proper positioning and the proper marketing, we can actually push them to other platforms, to actually putting out their music or booking them tours and things of that nature. It’s definitely an avenue to push people to the forefront. Look at the recording industry: who sends in demos nowadays? Nobody does that, that’s old school. There’s no need for A&R or anything anymore, you can pretty much go on YouTube and just peruse through different channels and see what you think is good enough to maybe pursue or that will help mold that person into becoming a larger artist or whatever. We provide them with that platform.
M: We get paid also. I think every time a battle gets posted, it generates a lot of attention, not just amongst the fans; our fans move throughout the industry also. I was at the club with Drake the other day, and you know, drunk and shit, he says, “Yo, what y’all do on stage makes what we do look like child’s play.” And I was like wow, this is fucking Drake saying this shit to me. I think the showmanship of it is what attracts people the most, the showmanship and the soap opera shit. It’s wild but it’s very entertaining.
How big do you see this getting?
A: Well I think things are sort of limitless. To give you an example, if you look at the international footprint of battle rap, that alone already has about a million subscribers, from a YouTube perspective. And then there are the battles. You can get about 5 million views from one battle. So the appetite for the messaging, in terms of what they’re saying and what they’re rapping about? It’s universal. I think that it’s taking something that is sort of organic to our DNA and really breaking it down and evolving our abilities. The same anticipation walking into a prize fight, it’s the same thing you feel before a battle rap starts. So when we move things into the square, we’re all hoping to recreate that same energy, that same excitement to get to that main event. And that’s the whole mystique that boxing has been able to do, that UFC has been able to do, and this is sort of the same format. It’s the same anticipation. And even the people have a way to see the actual event go down. So we recreate it and put it out as something that we think can be pretty much just as big as a WWE and UFC, because there’s a new battle rapper every day. Kids aren’t really listening to hip-hop records anymore, they’re listening to these battle rappers. That’s where they get their music at. So now they’re creating their own styles and creating their own flows and that’s what’s coming up. That’s what we’re creating now, globally. So that’s the appetite of the marketplace. And for us, it’s really about focusing on creating a business that we can monetize. Because at the end of the day, we have to turn it into a business.