Last night Wu-Tang Clan's the RZA and Gang Starr's DJ PREMIER were gracious enough to let their legendary catalogs lock horns for the nearly 900 thousand viewers who were ALL on the list by virtue of modern technology and a hideous virus that won't quit. Neither one of these gentleman have anything to prove, their faces already etched into the Mt. Rushmore of hip-hop production, so they did it for the people (THANK YOU!). In the days leading up to the event, it was charming to see the wise men, hardcore heads, casual fans and new schoolers all predict the winner of this exhibition, as though the two producers were settling a decades-long grudge. Who won? The real winner was all of the above, and Czarface bias aside: Inspectah Deck, whose dagger-like verses kept stabbing up signature tracks from both producers. Assassination Day, Triumph, Above the Clouds, and more, perhaps reminded the crowd who the best lead-off lyricist in hip-hop history is. The beats? To judge them or "score-keep" is absurd, they're all hits, smashes, bangers, tens... they're all capable of putting you right back in that Acura Vigor...or zipping up that Nautica with the orange buoy...or balling outside in the fall, brown bagging 40's...whatever memories you personally associate with these. For me, and a lot of my peers, these were the sure shots responsible for setting us on the dicey, uncertain path we've spent decades trying to navigate and the beautiful artform we've dedicated our lives to. This was a show of previously released classics, and a very generous offering by these two guys, however the more interesting parts of the broadcast happened between the songs, when the two demonstrated Kemba Walker levels of sportsmanship and an overall appreciation for each other's ground-breaking work. The spontaneity and improv made this event as special as it was, from Premier's stories of first hearing Protect Ya Neck (with an already-hip Onyx) and a quarantined RZA admitting his wife was off-screen nagging him to wrap up  the battle (highly relatable!). The viewers showed their appreciation and emoji collections by the only method possible: popping up in the comments...and the Youtube rule of "don't read the comments" started to apply to this event too. There's always assholes in the clubs though, right? This was a virtual club, it was PACKED, and at a real club, you'd want to stand out with fly gear...but the only way to stand out here is to offer 32 fire emojis and stunt with the reckless abandon of the "need graphics?" army. After reading so much it was taking away from the party, so I put the phone in my pocket and just soaked up the audio (what it's all about). I did this while hiding Easter eggs around the house for the kids to find in the morning....a far cry from my routine when these songs first dropped. What a cool, unprecedented experience, that took us all out of the hell we've been living in. Thank you Preemo and thank you RZA for Bringing the Pain and being Livin' Proof of what hip-hop can and should be. Here's to hoping we will all be under one roof for round 2, surely a tough ticket to come by.


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