Anyone in the Commons at UMBC Thursday night might have thought they were witnessing a scene from the film “8 Mile.”
The UMBC Student Events Board sponsored a Rap Battle event in the SportsZone area of the Commons. The freestyle battle was open to students, staff, and the outside community. The grand prize? A chance to meet rapper Snoop Dogg after his performance on Friday, April 29 at Quadmania 2011.
The lively event was hosted by Stevo Karolenko, a member of the Student Events Board who normally hosts Thursday night open mics and events. Karolenko said the rap battle takes place once a semester and is normally a crowd favorite.
“We thought rap hadn’t been well represented with events on campus,” Karolenko said. “Last semester the event really blew up. This semester it’s gotten even bigger.”
Seeing as how Snoop was already performing at the school, Karolenko said the idea of meeting the rap star as a prize was common sense.
“I figured if anything, rappers look up to Snoop,” he said. “I figured in any contest we do, meeting him would be a fitting prize.”
Chris Coleman, (left) rapping as “Chris C,” won the grand prize by braving his share of arrows while slinging more than a few himself, in front of a crowd of more than 130 people.
The rap battle undoubtedly had its share of animated and diverse MCs (one even claimed not to even know who Snoop was at all). In all, there were nine contenders — seven men and two women — who vied for the right of meeting the West Coast legend who crafted hits like “Gin & Juice,” “What’s My Name,” and “Drop it Like it’s Hot.” Each round was done in a call-and-response fashion with rappers getting 40 seconds to spit their illest verses. Winners were decided based on the audience’s reaction at the end of the round.
The rhymes started off innocent enough in the beginning, and each round was speckled with humorous and silly punchlines. Karolenko even went as far as to say, “I don’t know if you guys are rappers or comedians,” in between rounds.
“A lot of funny things were said,” Karolenko said. “It goes with the mood. It’s a light-hearted event and they kind of got into it.”
As the stakes increased however, the mood changed as the realization that an opportunity to personally meet a rap legend sunk in, and the lyrical attacks intensified. Weight, height, race, sexual orientation, genitalia size — you name it, and it was fair game in this rap war. Karolenko said he somewhat expected the insults to fly, though he had hoped against some of the more explicit ones.
“That’s kind of what people do when they run out of ideas or things to say,” he said. “Trying to balance free speech and censoring them is a tough challenge.”
By the end of the night, however, all jabs were taken in good humor and the crowd was thoroughly entertained watching their peers poke fun at each other while flexing their lyrical vocabularies. Who knows, a future rap legend just may have gotten his or her birth that night. SPECIAL TO BCopyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun