Total Slaughter, a competitive rap-battle league formed by rapper Eminem, his manager, and four members of Shady Records crew Slaughterhouse, is set to kick off with its very first event on 12th July at New York’s Hammerstein Ballroom. The event will feature a battle between NYC’s Hollow Da Don and Slaughterhouse rapper Joe Budden.
“I’m a passionate battle fan, so this is something I’ve always thought about doing,” Eminiem told Rolling Stone, before musing on how rap battles helped him learn his craft.
“I came up battling at the same time I was making records and learning my way around the studio,” he said. “It’s a little bit different in terms of the kinds of tools you need, but the competitiveness is the same. The times I didn’t win gave me just as much light in the past as when I did. It’s all about your performance.”
Eminem’s manager Paul Rosenberg told Rolling Stone that he sees the league as an opportunity to capitalise on the model formed by mixed martial arts league UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship).
“What we look at this opportunity as, is a way to do for battle rapping what UFC did for MMA. That’s really the model we’re basing it on,” he said. “It’s this great thing that a lot of people love, but it’s very splintered, and it’s very niche, and it’s not really brought into the right production levels that it can or should be.”
The inaugural Total Slaughter event, which will run in conjunction with hip-hop website WatchLOUD, is being co-produced by Eminem’s production company Shady Films. A four-part reality series called Road to Total Slaughter will also air on WatchLOUD.
Another highly anticipated upcoming Total Slaughter battle will involve a rematch between Harlem dismasters Murda Mook and Loaded Lux, whose 2003 battle (below) is regarded as a classic, despite its actual winner still being debated.
But is there any chance of Eminem getting back in the ring for a battle of his own? “I don’t think at this point it would make any sense. They know everything about him. Everything,” Rosenberg posited.
“So, he’s kind of an easy target. Plus, lets be honest, you gotta be in shape for this. This isn’t something that you just go do on a whim. You gotta be in shape, your brain’s gotta be ready for it, you gotta be in that mode. And [Eminem] hasn’t done stuff like that for a really long time.”
“But let me tell you something,” Rosenberg added. “When he was doing it, he was a fuckin’ killer.”
‘Battling’ actually predates rap music, originating with the street-corner rhyming games of the early 20th century. Once hip-hop culture had found its way into New York in the seventies, battles would circulate on cassette tapes.
Other attempts to celebrate battling as an official sport have included New Jersey’s early-nineties Rap Olympics, Cincinnati’s late-nineties Scribble Jam, and the popular Smack DVDs of the noughties. Thanks to YouTube, the sport has experienced a resurgence in the last decade.
Total Slaughter tickets will go on limited pre-sale on 2nd May, before going on sale publicly on 16th May.
Watch: Eminem Presents: Total Slaughter 1
Watch: URL PRESENTS MURDA MOOK VS Loaded Lux (2003)