When people talk about Mt. Rushmore of battle rap, there are a few names that people can debate. However, there is one name that continues to rise above the rest.Beloved.
Loaded Lux did not create battle rap, but what he has offered to the culture as an innovator, a thinker, a businessman, and an artist has transformed it as an art — helping to attract its most celebrated talent to the commercial leagues that matter the most.
Before he was the founder of the Lions Den/ Lionz Den, he wrecked the streets of Harlem spitting fire against best lyricists that the hood would regurgitate. But out of that cut-throat pool of emceeing, emerged a god-tier persona that worked to develop the culture in ways comparable to that of URL’s Smack (where he also performed as an artist and where many outside of New York saw first).
The difference? Smack had a distribution model with his DVD series. What did Lux have? Handsome had a charisma that attracted talent to the collective … wanting to align themselves with him … and establish legitimacy by basking in his professional aura. Had it not been for his scouting ear, the world would have waited much longer to experience the great talents of Goodz, Arsonal, Tay Roc, Charlie Clips, and Head Ice. Try as you might, over the last 20 years, Lux has made the craft, business, and artistic expression of battle rap performance elevate.
That is why NOME X will be a special event for fans.
The man that many consider the Greatest of All Times, will stand before a competitor that not only was influenced by Farrakhan’s favorite emcee — but believes it is just as important for his legacy to show us as it is for the pioneer. Lux versus Tsu Surf will be not only a battle for legacy but will shift cultural dynamics. If Surf has it his way, his swan song from battle rap will be with the head of this icon on a platter.
Lux is not ready to give him this distinction, especially for a battle he never even thought about until recently.
“The battle came up last year. It was coming off of Summer Impact. It was supposed to be the two-on-two, Gun Titles vs. Loaded Hollows. And that never happened because of a situation that he was in. When that didn’t happen, I guess he felt like he still wanted a shot. Shortly after that, he was just talking crazy, throwing shots. I’m not mad.”
Lux describes the energy around Summer Impact as a “grand moment.” It set the stage for a contest to happen between Lux and Surf, and surprisingly despite the vet having his eye on new talent never considered Surf as a potential opponent.
“He came on my radar, for real for real, after Summer Impact. When that didn’t happen or take place, that’s when I caught him going back and forth in interviews. He was throwing shots. I recall that I was in an interview and he had called up (Three Letterman) and then from there he was patched in. That’s when I really realized that he ‘really wants some smoke.’”
“Before then, it wasn’t really nothing. I just appreciated him and everything that he brought to the table as a talent. When we first saw Tsu Surf, we thought he was grand and held him in high regard. And we knew he was one of the ones that could be a formidable participant in the culture. That was actually a while ago when we gave him that look. I just appreciate what he was doing, but he wasn’t on my radar. I look at Surf as a little brother.”
“You watch certain talents when they enter the culture and you are like, ‘Yo that is a beautiful thing.’ Because you know what they bring to the table will make other people tune in because of where they are at.”
So when Surf called him out, did the vet take it as a form of disrespect? No. In classic Lux way, he shares that he is simply “blessed to be in the conversation.”
Lux has been in the conversation a lot. Last year at NOME 9, he battled against Aye Verb. Aye Verb had been on a roll after battling Murda Mook, another pioneer than many consider the historical Ishmael to beloveds’ Isaac. The two had danced in epic form, with many believing Mook advanced as the victor. However, many revere those battles as an exhibition sport, believing the win doesn’t matter as much as the epic performance. That also can be said about his back and forth with Verb.
A preference battle at best, Lux’s intricate mind dispensed some of the most entertaining yet thought provocative bars of the year:
“Damn Verb, look what you did what you did wit' ya shot
They gon' give me all the photo cred' but all I caught was the body...
Yeah some niggas don't get the picture 'til it's cropped
Top- layers they put you in, that's from all that bitchin' you do a lot
If you got through the tiers flippin', I should flop
Word Verb, you 'bout that action for traffic and then it stops
I'm a mind reader
You gon' be time keepin' the timekeeper
This should've been unlimited but it's not
You'se a tricky nigga got 'em to get the clicker on paper put a hold (hole) on me like a ticket clipper
This what you picked, you forgot?
After that 2019 battle, he hopped on the aforementioned Summer Impact card, wherein that battle (despite Surf not performing) an extraordinary feat was accomplished as he single-handedly made a debatable with the replacement team, Gunz N Cake. The Gray Hoodie Lux had emerged from the early 2000s and that wet the whistle for Surf, priming him to take shots.
“I am supposed to have shots taken at me. This is a sport. If we ain’t got that type of energy and you don’t want to execute on that level then you don’t need to be in this.”
He adds that the shots are expected, but you have to have the skin for it.
“This sport is contention driven. You come in here and you better want to be the best and you better want to take on the best. If you don’t feel like you can take on a name, then don’t do this. Get out the way.”
But what is the Gray Hoodie Lux? The Gray Hoodie Lux is more edgy and street driven. He is more raw.
“As I evolved and elevated, my conversation changed at times. I became more aware of the different lanes that I wanted to take and wanted to work in. But people fell in love with us on the come up, that raw edgy and street. When you look at Surf’s background and you see what he brings to the table, it is that element. And that actually is a beautiful energy.
Really what people are tuning into, they are engaged in the energy. That’s a beautiful thing to want. That’s what he wants from me. When you look back at anything regarding Gray Hoodie Lux and that mind-state and element look for the raw-edgy energy. It is driven from the heart and the street.
Both emcees are magical, and with the star-studded roster of competitors, many wonder if Lux is coming in for the kill. They ask, “if this is going to be a slaughter or a classic battle?”
“I believe what is most important is that we show up as our best selves that we can possibly be. After that, we can leave on the table. I believe me as a professional is important that I be the best Loaded Lux that I can be every time I show up. If Tsu Surf be the best Tsu Surf, and I be the best Loaded Lux, we cannot help but be a classic, after that … it is opinionated.”
While everyone will have their respective opinions, there are some things that Lux wants people to lock in on to best enjoy NOME X.
“This is a beautiful time of balance. NOME is typically done in a big stage-driven, but this is a humbling moment. Fundamentally, it is asking that we just get back to basics. Fans will learn to receive the content a little differently. When I look at the last Summer Impact, which was beautiful, it was show driven. This brings it back to the content in terms of lyricism and people having to perform under these different spaces. It gives the fans a chance to really listen and a sense of balance.
All praises due to the Most High, for this to still take place shows how important battle rap is to the Hip-Hop community.
To add on to Lux’s statement, for so many to be locked into his battle, it shows how important Lux remains in the Hip-Hop community.