Before JID or Denzel turned the ring into a stage, Red Bull warmed the crowd up with an actual card of wrestling bouts. Everyone in the crowd came to be entertained by a rap show, yet everyone was vocally invested in body slams and athletic pageantry of the tag team matchup. Typically, opening acts at hip-hop shows are hit or miss, but watching people pummel each other was a perfect precursor for the physicality of JID and Denzel’s performance, both of which found each MC without a shirt, drenched in sweat and on the top turnbuckle by the end. Whether through imitation of the wrestlers, inspiration from the ring, or a combination of the two, JID and Denzel exemplified how closely hip hop performances mirror wrestling matches.
The battle lasted five rounds with each artist performing songs back and forth. One artist would perform a certain number of songs stipulated by each round and his competitor would enter the ring directly after and try their hand at electrifying the crowd. Each artist adjusted their typical performance style enough to fit the competition format. During a normal performance, artists value their energy only second to the crowd’s reaction so they structure their shows to appease both. A sequence of upbeat songs meant to galvanize the crowd usually are followed by slower songs meant to balance the show’s energy and give the artist a much-needed respite. That’s not the case in a battle where any lull in energy could be the difference between winning and losing the crowd.
Denzel’s first song was “Sumo” is one of his most popular songs and would normally be later in his set that he untucked early to take an early lead in energy and asked the crowd if they wanted to moshpit. Denzel even did a standing spin kick while performing his five-year-old audio riot called, “Ultimate” and bounced around, under and through the ropes like the late Macho Man. Not to be outdone, JID came firing out the gate with “Never,” using his fast flow and commanding voice to stun the crowd into applause before eventually going full Ultimate Warrior and shaking the ropes at the same speed of his supersonic delivery.
As captivating as didn’t feel like a battle for the majority of the event, until late in the competition. Near the end of the show, Denzel brandished one of the foam fingers given out to the crowd that read “Team JID” before ripping it. After that, JID compared Denzel’s final song of the battle to “some Red Hot Chili Pepper shit,” before letting it be clear to the crowd “I’m finna rap.” As competitive as the two got, the entire battle was predicated in respect and admiration, uncommon in wrestling bouts and almost unheard of in rap battles.
The lack of acrimony usually requisite for a rap battle being missing was noticeable without being a deterrent. JID came into the ring when Denzel did ‘Ultimate’ to turn up with him. Curry came out to be the hype man for JID’s climactic performance of what sounded like an unreleased song. In the end, both hands were raised and both waists were outfitted for the championship belts, as the bout was considered a draw by the equally deafening response from the crowd each rapper elicited.
“The majority of those guys are my homies. JID is the homie. Flatbush (Zombies) and Joey (Badass) is the homie. If I was able to share a tour with you, come to your crib, vibe with you on all types of levels and you can do the same; come to cookouts, vibe with me and come to my dad's house, you’re the homie,” Curry said. “Fuck all of that, ‘Oh, I make more money on tour and all that stuff like that.’ We all getting paid, so I'm gonna make sure we all do.”