The wait is over and we’ve finally got to hear Hollow Da Don bless his fans with another battle, this time against Tsu Surf at URL’s N.O.M.E. 3 (Night of Main Events) on June 23 in New York City. Hollow was arrested over a year ago for charges stemming from a 2006 incident. He sat in jail for six months while his fans awaited his return. Before the walls of prison caved in on Hollow it was highly anticipated that he battle his arch nemesis, Loaded Lux. After a challenge by Lux in late 2011 on Dashliving, a YouTube channel, and according to Hollow, numerous tweets by Lux taunting him, the anticipation for a classic battle was set.
Hollow Da Don has had quite the career. He was a recurring champion on BET’s “106 & Park Freestyle Fridays”. In 2010 Rapmusic.com counted Hollow as one of the 50 best battle rappers of all time. Hailing from Queens, New York and also spending part of his life in Houston, Texas, his style is entrenched in New York’s Hip-Hop culture brewed with roots of a faint southern twang. This fusion makes for an interesting and unorthodox sound. Hollow first received notoriety as a battle rapper on Grind Time. In an era where battlers have ample time to write and prepare bars for their opponents, his uncanny ability to freestyle, which is the essence of what Battle Rap used to be, has given him an advantage of being lyrically flexible (pause). He doesn’t stick to the script because usually he doesn’t have one. He’s an improv. I mean this guy can come up with anything on the spot and make it sound good.
When Hollow left Grind Time and graduated to the URL, or as some fans call it the “Main Stage”, he faced new challenges and a new crowd. The URL has a predominately urban Black and Hispanic demographic as opposed to Grind Time that had more of a mixed demographic. The URL crowd is drawn to bars that are laced with metaphors of gun and drug references for example, shaving onions and spraying hammers, to name a few. This is not to say that battle leagues with mixed demographics don’t have this but it is overwhelmingly pronounced in the URL. Even Hollow’s slogan “You Snow Dat” is a reference to cocaine but his weirdness, and at times corny style, didn’t always mesh in the URL’s tough street climate. “You was battling Illmac, Okwerdz, and Passwurdz/rhyming ventilators, using generators, using mad words/Then come to the URL and everybody Snow Dat/Snow What? Them weirdos f**k with you but so what!” as Tsu Surf described Hollow in round 1.
The battle with Tsu Surf for most people was Hollow’s opportunity to show and prove that he was worthy to battle Loaded Lux. His time in jail seemed to take a toll on his performance. He was a bit rusty and with Surf in the prime of his Battle Rap career, Hollow’s shortcomings were exposed. He got off to a slow start in round 1, perceptibly trying to find a comfort zone. He even threw money in the air, an antic that didn’t get the reaction from the crowd that Hollow intended. By round 2 and 3 he warmed up giving the audience some original material mixed with a few recycled bars he used in previous battles. Some die-hard fans still gave the win to him but most people felt as though Surf took the battle. This wasn’t Hollow’s greatest performance instead it was more of a trial battle which left a lot of his critics even more doubtful of his chances against Loaded Lux.
So, is Hollow Da Don ready for Loaded Lux? Well, first let me give you a snapshot of what Lux means to the URL. On camera, Loaded Lux is undefeated. He is also a recurring champion at BET’s “106 & Park Freestyle Fridays”, he’s one of the founders of Lion’s Den, a battle league that broke battlers like Goodz, K-Shine, Arsonal, Tech-9, Tay Roc, and Charlie Clips. He is viewed to some extent as a demigod in Battle Rap. As fellow battler Aye-Verb explains it, Lux is said to have a glow when he walks in a room, a strong presence. From what we’ve seen of Lux he is a bit strange. I mean how many 20-something year olds do you know that spend their time playing chess with old heads and speak in riddles. The perfect description of him would be that of an elder from the Five-Percent Nation of Gods and Earths, a religion started by Clarence 13X, in Harlem in the 1960′s. Spreading knowledge, wisdom, and understanding to his peers, it’s as if his alias should be Knowledge Supreme Alphabet.
Lux’s strength rests in the fact that we know very little about him. Besides his preacher persona we don’t know his shortcomings. What makes him tick? What kind of relationships does he have with his friends? What are his flaws? He’s somewhat of a mystery. Lux doesn’t even participate in social media much. The advantage that Lux had in his battle with Calicoe last year at Summer Madness 2 was that he knew a great deal of information about him. He knew about his run-ins with law, his father going to jail for a long period of time, and from Calicoe’s posts on Twitter he exposed him for skinny-dipping. With that knowledge he was able to take the approach of an older, more seasoned man speaking to a young lad that is too big for his britches. In this sense Lux is like the Sun Tzu incarnate that has mastered the art of war in Battle Rap. He knows everything about his opponent while his opponent knows little to nothing about him. For Hollow, knowing Lux is probably discovering his Achilles Heel.
Hollow Da Don is as ready as he is going to be for Loaded Lux. It is going to be very difficult to beat a person that can do no wrong in the eyes of fans. Lux choked in his first round against Calicoe and for at least 2 minutes he couldn’t get his bearings straight and no one booed him. As a matter of fact, fans felt as though he planned to choke and forfeit the first round to Calicoe. In their eyes Lux is the golden child. If this battle were on Grind Time, which has since been changed to Grind Time Now, or KOTD, I think Hollow would have a fair chance. His unorthodox style is appreciated more in those circles than in the URL. But there is a lot of hope for Hollow Da Don. He brings an audience that has been following him his whole career before URL, that judges battles through a different lens. These fans favor the unorthodox random rhyme spitting as opposed to gun and drug bars or the “kicking knowledge”, poetry cipher approach Lux takes. Lux may surely win this battle in the house but on camera it may be a different story. Most of the blogs that I’ve been reading that have Hollow beating Tsu Surf are fans that tune into other battle leagues besides URL. Hollow’s ace in the hole may be to have his fans in mind that brought him this far when preparing his battle against Loaded Lux, because these are the fans that truly appreciate him.
Written by: Eddie Bailey of The Savoy Media Group
Twitter @BttleRapHistory & @SavoyMediaGroup