Friday 18th November 1994, a definitive date in the annals of Rap battles.
This was the night two of the Bay Areas Rap crews would metaphorically go for the throat. Casual and the Hieroglyphics crew battled Saafir and the Hobo Junction mob in the Wake Up Show studios at KMEL in Northern California. The beef had been marinating for a minute but no one knew just how animated it was gonna get.
On Casuals full length LP ‘Fear Itself’, Saafir appeared on one of the tightest rhymes on the entire album. Yet when Casual was due to rock a rhyme on Saafirs debut ‘Boxcar Sessions’, it didnt happen for one reason or another. Maybe this was the cause of the dissent, who knows. There had been a couple of freestyle battles weeks previous to the KMEL showdown, they’d both met in San Francisco where Saafir presented Casual’s wallet to him at the end of an on-stage session [having pick-pocketed Casual while serving his in front of the crowd]. Maybe the cause of the beef was a mixture of pride, show n prove and a strong belief in beef.
By all accounts, the DJs were Prince Ice & Joe Quixx, and the winner was, well, that all depends on your affiliations and whether or not you took the [off the top] freestyle rhyme issue to heart. The atmosphere in the studio sounds tense to say the least, at one point King Tech informing the soldiers and the weed carriers in the KMEL studio ‘Yall got to chill, this is a Rap thing, you can fight outside’ !!
The purity of actual freestyle rhyming is commendable, but if we look back to Harlem World in Christmas 1981, Busy Bee had to accept that Moe Dee wiped his ass with him due to a syllable perfect delivery of a jaw-dropping fully rehearsed Rap. Saafirs vicious styles had the same effect in 1994, pernicious pre-writtens taking out the majority of the Hiero crew. Casual had some great one-liners off the dome, but with Saafir delivering booming pre-writtens like “Nigga you still play Pictionary with Mom and Dad/You grew up with wing dings named Buffy and Brad/You used to talk like this, that’s rad let’s go surfing”, there really was no competition.
Casual appears alongside Pep Love, Tajai & members of Souls of Mischief but unfortunately Del tha Funkee Homosapien didnt make it. Saafir appears along with Big Nous and various Hobos. The phone lines were opened and listeners had their chance to vote for a winner, but no on-air announcements were forthcoming.