A Dipset Fan Details His Gut-Wrenching Verzuz Experience
I never pictured I would be here doing this. Every day, I imagine different ways it could have gone. Every night I wake up in a cold sweat remembering how it actually went. This honestly feels like an obituary; writing every word with a tear in my eye pouring out my last drop of sizzurp. I’m here in all black to bury my family.
Life long Dipset fan here. Cameron Giles is my idol. I’ve traded verbal jabs with rap fans over the years about his “unconventional” lyrics, but I don’t care because that’s my guy (and to be clear, Cam can rap). Going into the most recent Verzuz battle (which pit my Dipset crew against Yonkers’ own The LOX ), I talked so much s*** on the internet (and in-person)—not because I wanted to, but because I HAD to.
I am fully aware of who The LOX are. Jada, Sheek, and Styles are supreme lyricists and trained assassins. They will give you 16 bars apiece, then rob you for it. Yonkers is hard. But this matchup was against The Diplomats from Harlem. These guys are superheroes in pink Lamborghinis with pretty girls and fresh sneakers.
This was maybe the second Verzuz I’d ever seen. My battle-watching attire consisted of a floor-length pink mink coat, the finest 5x white t-shirt I could find, and my Air Force 1s (so crispy that you’d bleed if you touched them wrong). The durag in my pocket was long enough to wrap around the earth and hug it. This was the culmination of my entire life. I was in battle mode.
Suddenly, it all felt wrong. The LOX entered the arena in complete uniformity, marching to the stage like a well-trained squadron ready for war. Michael Buffer emceed the group introductions. The LOX came out to DMX’s intro on It’s Dark and Hell Is Hot (RIP X). Much like DMX, That song holds a special place in my heart. These guys did not come to play.
The battle took place in Manhattan. We (The Diplomats) should have had home-court advantage; but that fell to disarray the moment Michael Buffer announced Dipset and no one came out. Not a soul. It was 3-5 minutes of silence. Eventually, Jim emerged, followed by Juelz. Freaky Zeeky walked up, unnecessarily holding a mic (I love Zeek’s energy, but this is a battle if you don’t rap then you don’t matter here).
Cam’ron was on a milk carton. He eventually made his way on stage and dapped his group mates off like he hadn’t seen them in years. This clearly was not 2004 anymore. The friendship that made Dipset Dipset was clearly missing. We’d already lost before round one.
Cam! Issa Trap! RUN! Jadakiss upped his microphone to tell the crowd, “Cam–you live in Miami.” The first chink of armor fell to the ground.
LOX immediately went into “F*** You,” off their debut album Money, Power & Respect. Maybe the hardest song ever made. This song has Timberland and chopped cheese residue all over it. This song tastes like concrete. It didn’t matter what the Diplomats played next. Round one was an “L.” I listen to “F*** You” when I’m in the gym. The song gets me so hype I could put the whole gym on my back. I black out. I run around stealing weights from people. I need more.
Apparently, Styles P felt the same way. He rapped about four bars from his verse. Boy ran over to the Diplomats. He tried to demolish the materials on Cam’s pantsuit. This guy Styles was an animal unhinged. He was so in the zone, Kiss had to finish rapping his verse for him. Sheek had to pull Styles away. Bro, what are we up against?
The Diplomats’ first song was “I’m Ready” ***insert chef’s kiss***—a masterpiece. I was a freshman in college when Diplomatic Immunity was released. I cut four classes to buy that album—and now Juelz comes out and doesn’t remember his own lyrics. Bro? What? Cam doesn’t even rap his verse. He’s too cool on his beach chair. This isn’t the Cam we need.
Felt like the Dips were down 10 early. We had no challenges or full time-outs left. No worries. Just a little ring rust. We’ll shake it off, right? I started to pray we wouldn’t get embarrassed on national television.
Next up, LOX performed “Banned from TV.” As the song started to play, Jada and Styles stood back to back rapping in the center of the stage. That s*** gave me chills. You could feel they were powering up—not quite at peak Super-Saiyan mode yet. This was hip-hop. The LOX didn’t rap over their pre-recorded vocal tracks, which is a big deal and should serve as a blueprint for up-and-coming artists (shout out Marcel P. Black, buy his music).
Real emcees do not rap over pre-recorded tracks. Real emcees have breath control and showmanship that oozes on stage. Real emcees know their lyrics. I’ve always been of the belief that performances with vocal tracks are cheating. That’s some SoundCloud rapper s***.
At its core, rap is an art form. Take all the swagger, jewelry, and cars out of it; the bars are the engine behind the whole s***. The LOX rightly treated the performance as art. They showcased the qualities of true emcees. Crowd management was on full display. Breath control (while not rapping over recorded tracks) was front and center. The Yonkers boys were in such musical synchronism, each member knew when the other member needed to take a breath and would finish the other’s bar for him. Incredible showmanship.
There were years of hard work and dedication present on stage. The LOX were forged in fire. They sparred with DMX for years. I can only imagine the rap battles that took place. Steel definitely sharpens steel. Hand-picked by the Notorious B.I.G to join Bad Boy Records. These guys have an impeccable resumè.
Cam’ron finally got out of his beach chair to perform “Suck It Or Not”—no energy, vocal track playing in the background. A great song, but The LOX had a rebuttal for everything. Diplomats were more concerned with fashion than music early on.
That’s when Jada turned to the crowd and asked, “Why are they rapping over vocals? This is hip-hop. We are in the Mecca.” From there he performed his verse on “Who Shot Ya,” once again lyrically violating my guys and playing to the crowd. Jada has a bar that goes “he’s a d**k, you p**y, y’all neighbors”. He pointed at my Diplomat guys. Kiss ended the verse by throwing down the goddamn microphone. Distraught, I walked around the crib asking myself why he was being so mean. This was uncalled for.
Dipset must have seen Harold Lederman’s scorecard and realized they were down big. Cam came out swinging with “Get Em Girls,” and flipped it into “Leave Me Alone” (a record sampled from 2pac)–still rapping over tracks. Immediately after the record ended, Sheek from The LOX said, “I know ‘Balling’ is coming soon.” These guys knew our entire playbook. They even performed the adlibs to Cam’s songs.
Jim Jones, temping fate, swung back with, “Sheek when are you going to play a record?” Issa trap, Jim! Run! The bullies from Yonkers played “Reservoir Dogs” from Vol. 2…Hard Knock Life. Styles and Jada had better verses on the song in my opinion. However, because Dipset was talking s***, Sheek performed his verse–group continuity.
All of a sudden, “Welcome To New York City” comes on. I’m like, Yes! The Set will rise up like a phoenix from the ashes! I got about 1:10 of comfort. That’s the moment Jada walked to the front of the stage and did this. I’ve been walking around randomly yelling, “It’s me, Kiss, I’m outside” at people for weeks since. Each time I say it and fight back tears.
The crowd went crazy. The cameraman panned to Fat Joe in the crowd (he’s featured on the original song)–his face said everything. My body was physically in pain. We really could have ended the battle here. For my sanity, we needed to.
Jim Jones finally performed “Ballin.” Every LOX member rapped the words and performed the Ballin Jumpshot dance. Dipset doubled back with “Santana’s Town.” The LOX loved it. How deflating. These guys turned into Voltron. There was nothing we could do to harm them. God’s don’t bleed.
I thought I knew humiliation. Then Juelz decided to march through The LOX’s line as they’re Que Dogg “Stepping.” Jada did not take kindly to that. As Juelz blitzes through, Jada grabs Juelz’s patented bandana and throws it on the ground. I’m yelling, stop the count! I have seen enough! Easily the most disrespectful event I had ever seen. That was hammering a nail in the coffin and then dropping the coffin into an abyss.
A couple rounds later, Juelz raps “Hey Ma.” Could’ve snuck a win out in that round, but no, Juelz berates The LOX by saying, “I don’t think these guys like girls. They think we’re in jail.” Juelz! Run! Issa trap! My Lord, what a setup. The LOX are the ultimate counter-punchers.
The LOX to go on a medley of lady’s songs that included bangers by f****** Mariah Carey, Eve, and J Lo. They got deep in their dancery bag with Mary J. Blige. Then “Knock Yourself” comes on. All of a sudden, I am in my living room wrapping a napkin like a bandana around my forehead again. Meanwhile, Kiss is yelling, “are you kidding? We have Grammys. These guys don’t know what Grammys look like. They have grams.” Eternal sadness.
Diplomats were down 79-3. To make matters worse. Cam attempted to get in his freestyle bag. The crowd wouldn’t even let my guy shoot a practice jump shot. Cam got booed in Manhattan. In the Garden. At home. Santa Claus is not real. He didn’t deserve that. I cut the battle off at that point.
Never in life would I think lyrics would win a Verzuz. Never. The platform is about hits! But lyrics reduced my adolescence to atoms. Jadakiss is the Michael Jordan of Verzuz (even though he posed like Kobe after the show).
It’s possible that I took Jada for granted. He literally has a verse for any situation. Like the hood griot Taxstone once said, “You can raise a child in NYC just off Jadakiss bars”—but not just in NYC. Kiss could raise your child anywhere. Jada dished out 17 assists, scored 23,000 points, grabbed 42 rebounds, and 25 steals. Jada was a combination of Ed Reed, Wilt Chamberlain, and Jesus.
Meanwhile, Styles played a complete ball game: elite craftsmanship; crowd control; energy; being able to play off the ball; competent spot-up shooting with ball-handling ability; able to take his man out of the game while still getting his. Sheek played huge in a limited role: very skilled at the dribble handoff, a master at rolling the rim; elite at rim protection and using vertically without fouling; a big man with presence.
The LOX kicked ass and took names; but at the end of the day, it was all love between the groups. A lot of daps and hugs between the two crews ensemble. Each trio has held a stranglehold on the culture for years now. It was a great moment for hip-hop. Happy to see The LOX get their credit, finally. Hate that it was at the expense of my guys.
In closing, much love to The LOX, but it’s still Dipset all day.