In Part 2 of my talk with Ultimate Rap League co-founder Street Star Norbes we talk about the newest project called the Proving Grounds, a second stage created to give lesser known battle MC's a chance to showcase their skills and prepare them for the big stage, creating new stars to carry the torch in URL's future.
How did yall come up with the idea for the Proving Grounds?
When we first started URL that was the proving grounds, as I was saying. I'm a firm believer in "You're as good as the future." So anybody can have Kobe Bryant, Tim Duncan, but eventually your young talent has to takeover 'cause niggas gotta move on, they gotta retire, they gotta do what they gotta do. So I'm always a firm believer in bringing up new talent and developing them and keeping the talent fresh.
Now we were getting so popular that it was hard to recruit new dudes and put them on that stage because it's such a big stage. The stage keeps getting bigger. So we all sat together and said we should do this so we can develop the future like Bill Collector, B. Magic, QP, Rosenberg Raw, JC, M. Ciddy, and give them a stage where people get familiar with them so now when we do put them on the big stage we don't lose the dynamic of the product. So that's the reason we we created the PG, and people have a big misconception of it being a tryout. No it's not a tryout. We literally watch hours of footage and hand pick certain people like "I wanna see what he's gonna do on the stage." Sometimes you miss. Sometimes a dude might be great in [a different] league and you bring him over [to URL] and he's not that great and sometimes a dude doesn't look that good in [a different] league and he comes over and he's dynamic. So that's really the reason we created the Proving Grounds. To continue to keep the product at the maximum potential in the future. I'm not thinking about 2012 I'm thinking about 2015 with the new super stars. I wanna continue on 'cause I think URL is special.
I do see lately a lot of dudes talking about "falling back" or "retiring" from battling to focus on their music careers.
And that's gonna happen, more power to them. A guy like Math Hoffa is ready to attack the mainstream. He's crossed over with big records with Q-Tip and Methodman. Now he's about to put in some work with araabMUZIK, shout out to aarab. Uncle Murda, there's a lot of people that wanna do records with us. Even Hitman Holla he works with Murphy Lee. Drake took an interes in certain people. So these people are gonna eventually do what they gotta do musically so you need new faces or your league is not gonna last. That's why you need the B. Magics. It's a cycle. You don't wanna battle forever. I mean I would love them to.
When you're looking at the footage what qualities do you look for in an MC?
I try to look for personality and diversity in terms of talent. I think certain leagues or the battles they do get are very one dimensional and I like to gather variety. I wanna see Bill Collector battle a punchline nigga like B. Magic eventually. I wanna see a nigga that has jokes. I think he can beat a nigga that's a jokester. I think he can beat a lyrical dude. I like to bring all types of different rappers. What stood out to me with Bill Collector was his energy and his rhythm. He was so crazy with it. What stood out to me about Hitman was his delivery and performance. Then you got like Hollow freestyling and rebuts. and B. Magic is an amazing writer in terms of punches and stuff like that. I try to look at every aspect of battling and who's dynamic in what they do, and try to bring different personalities. That's what people don't understand with the battling thing. That's a product you're putting out there so you want all types. My favorite battler is Tech 9. I love Tech 9, I think he's the best. Not everyone loves Tech 9 some niggas might like Conceited more.
Tech 9 is definitely one of my favorites. I think he's literally one of the best battle rappers of all time.
I agree and I think with this league you want that. It's like boxing, you want southpaws, you want niggas that box, you want sluggers, you want dudes that are fast, that are defensive, you want a variety of styles to make the league continue and grow.
Do you deal with a lot of egos as far as people that wanna be on the stage but you feel they're not ready?
There's always egos. In terms of battling, human nature is there's egos everywhere that's just the name of the game. Do I like dealing with them? No. Do I have to? Yeah, but for the most part everybody wants to be on that stage so they're humble at first. It's the game my nigga what can you do? [laughs]. It's like working at McDonalds you gonna deal with a lot of personalities. I'd rather be working at the URL though.
I really like what Proving Grounds is doing. So far we've seen QP, John John Da Don, B. Magic, Bill Collector, M. Ciddy. Right now my favorite is QP. I think he's definitely gonna be the future in URL. He's definitely gonna be a star.
He's amazing, he's already a star to me. He's hilarious, he got lyrics, he's something else man. He's got it all. In terms of battling like his swag, even the way he talks. If you have a conversation with QP he's fucking hilarious. Like he's just got something about him that's amazing. Whether you like QP or Magic or M. Ciddy they all have their own lanes and what they do.
QP vs B. Magic
B. Magic vs John John Da Don
M. Ciddy vs Bill Collector
In the final installment of my interview with Norbes, we discuss successes and mistakes at Summer Madness, mainstream rappers coming down to battle on the big stage and taking Ultimate Rap League to Giants Stadium. Keep it locked and spread the word about MetaphorsAndRealRap.com