To everyone that has ever learned about danger we were always told where there is smoke there is fire. FIRE was definitely present at Smoke In The City September 17th and everyone that was in the event came away with a show/versus/battle that Verzuz has never delivered to its' viewership and that was home grown pride and love for the culture. Many artists came out to see this event at Allure Lounge in Newark NJ. Nisa F, M. O. Sound Group, Swerv, Double O and more came out with their eyes were on the stage. What will happen tonight? Who will win the match up? Independent NJ Hip-Hop won this day and for anyone that was not there, what an event you missed!
The first match up was between Armando "Outthere" Diaz and Stan Ipkiss of Headphone Therapy. Both came to the event ready to establish dominance over each other with eclectic sounds, and played some songs during their set. Armando and Ipkiss gave us beats with heavy drums, bars, and spirit shaking drops that made the artists in the building "battle" on deciding who had the better beats to fit the sound they want and need for their own music catalogs. One highlight was the banter between both producers as they playfully teased each other from selection to selection. One highlight from the battle was the Gail Campbell highlight battle where Armando played the song "Rain" and Stan Ipkiss played "Dot" and we received 2 performances by Gail Campbell on the spot. When this match up was done the festivities where not only warmed up the crowd felt the pressure of what a true verses event is...cultural celebration. Then the next match up came to the stage.
The next match up was Real As Promised verses Fah Familiyar. Real as Promised was seen in the crowd jumping up and down like a prized fighter ready to represent his part of the culture against a top competitor. Fah Familiyar came through the crowd like the peoples' champion and then the B.S. started. As R.A.P. started to rhyme the mics went out and the event was casted with dark shadow. Fah was classy and said if the mics didn't work we gotta change cause he wanted ALL THE SMOKE, from R.A.P and not a broken set. So due to sound system issues the 2 artists took the mic and show from the stage and performed in the crowd and Smoke In The City went up another notch. When have you ever seen the Verzuz take the show to the crowd? NEVER! This match up was a battle not between the artists but the people that came to support their own personal artist and came away with love and respect for the opponent that was challenging their view and appreciation for music. With songs like Cake, Grandma's hands and more Fah and R.A.P. talk to each other in music and off the microphones to give the crowd the mutual love for each other, their music and the NJ Hip-Hop culture they represent. From stage to middle of the floor and even on top of chairs, The showman and the bar smith did not disappoint everyone in the event and just like the first match up standing ovations were abound. Then the main event started and we were not ready!
Chops Tha Savior verses Grumpy Old Man was not what people thought it would be. From the beginning this was seen as the Barred up legend vs. the legendary Entertainer. People said they were old, Chops can't entertain, or Grumpy had no bars and everyone that thought so ALL WERE PROVED WRONG. From the outset Chops came to the stage and proclaimed this is just another day at the office. Grump brought the show to the stage with a mask and when it came off Black Out his other persona came out and the both were verbally swinging. In the last match up the stage was neglected due to the sound system not able to catch up to the greatness of the 2 artists. The main event grabbed the sound system itself and beat it into submission to the power of the stage. Chops had the stage on lock and when he was done his 3rd set Grump was on top of a chair. Chops directed the crowd to Grump and Grumpy led them musically back to the stage where he tore it down. The power of Tha Savior led the south ward to the stage and when "Riot Bars" dropped it was lights out for Grump? Not even close...when "Stay Fly" dropped and the party was elevated by Grump's performance and the voice of Big Snuff (RIP) we were treated to much more than a battle this was NJ Hip-Hop bringing the essence of the party, the live show and the culture back to where it belonged. It belongs with the people and the stage. When the show closed out after this set we were treated to the return of ST4L or if you don't know what that means Streets 4 Life, with a performance by Dot Bundini, Gail Campbell, Tha Savior, and E. Piche! After this match up Grumpy showed even as an "Old Man" he can out entertain, rap, and bar an opponent, and Tha Savior showed the same thing. Smoke in the city was a battle buy not on stage, it was battle in the crowd.
The people in the crowd were treated to something ground breaking and it will begin something people will want year after year. The battle was in people's decision on not only who "won" but which was the best match up and what did they enjoy the best out of the show. Smoke In The City was a bar setter and is Gold Standard that if treated right will bring the best of the best out and if the performances get better, the mainstream will be in trouble. Where there is smoke there is fire and after this event everyone that was there were treated to a fire playlist and those that were not are heated and on fire they missed it. Real Hip-Hop is not only heard it is felt, and to those in the event they felt the true spirit of living Hip-Hop in real time.