“Yo, we can hit a lick doing this music thing, I’m telling you. My man nice with the beats, I know this kid who got a lethal pen and my swag crazy.” For better or worse, this is a mind state that’s pervasive in rappers. This has been a part of the formula since Big Bank Hank had bodyguards, a Lincoln Continental, Sunroof Cadillac, and the color TV to watch the Knicks play basketball.

“Nicer than ME!? WHO? Where he at? I’m there NOW!!” That is a mindset for EMCEEs. While there’s room for us all, there can only be one BEST. That competitive spirit that led to lyrical warfare in school lunchrooms, tenement staircases, street corners, stages and recording booths!

On the surface there doesn’t exist a difference, but those that know, KNOW. Great music was made in the annals of hip hop when any one of these philosophies were applied at optimal levels but in layman’s terms, the former is to make the music relevant right now. Let’s get as many eyes and ears on alert and break the bank in the process. The latter has a more artistic vision. That for the most part is to stay timeless and touch audiences like they’re hearing it for the first time EVERYTIME. No one is better than the other, it’s just preference.

That’s what was on display Aug. 3 at the Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden when VERZUZ split the city in half with its latest incarnation featuring Dipset vs. the LOX. While billed as a celebration of the catalogue of two artists this one here was a Versus of Verses. It was chippy and as it progressed a heated competition. “They gipping y’all, we in the Mecca, New York. We came so y’all could see us sweat, they came here lip synching,” Jadakiss declared to the crowd of the performance of the Dipset. Cam’ron later fired a retort saying, “Y’all wanna turn this into a mixtape because y’all don’t have no hits.” That was a thought widely held going into this confrontation but on this night nothing was going to stop what the LOX had to offer. Led by the MVP performance of Al Qaeda Jadakiss and the stringing together a more cohesive team effort of their hits and accentuating their strength as supreme street poets, the LOX shined!!

As for the victors, to give the clichéd answers, yes NY won and more important both crews. A few hours before they took the stage, The LOX pulled up on the Angie Martinez show on Power 105.1 to not just promote the event but reveal the future of the groups. “We going on tour together,” Styles P told Angie. “The LOX and Dipset tour. That’s going to be sick. It’s in September. There’s going to be merch, there’s going to be product, there’s going to be music, we’re going to springboard it.” It’s all about the Benjamins, WHAT?!

Last week at Prospect Park BRIC, the Brooklyn-based leading arts and media institution, kicked off their 43rd annual BRIC Celebrate Brooklyn! Festival with an official return to live, in-person performances. Ari Lennox proved to be the perfect selection as she has grown in popularity and as a performer during the year and a half COVID-19 induced hiatus. She added spice to her sultry set by bringing mentor and frequent collaborator, superstar J. Cole, who sang his verse on her hit-single “Shea Butter Baby.” The Brooklyn audience was filled with palpable excitement and resounding cheers for J. Cole, who praised Ari Lennox before leaving the stage.

The BRIC Celebrate Brooklyn! Festival will continue through Sept. 18 with upcoming performances including The Roots, Wizkid, D-Nice with special guests, Glass Animals, Skip Marley, Vijay Iyer, Rita Indiana, Mr. Eazi, Trombone Shorty, Junglepussy, Buffy Sainte-Marie, Yaeji, and more!

Back next week to talk more about it. Over and out. Holla soon. Til then, enjoy the nightlife.