More than a dozen sturdy men stand center stage as a rowdy crowd looks on. On one side is a trio decked out in the Stars and Stripes while backed by, among others, a shirtless Thomas Jefferson and a black gentleman in a Lady Liberty costume celebrating July Fourth.
On the other side, twin brothers have a crew of racially ambiguous men in black hoodies standing behind them with menacing glares.
The rap battle commences.
Insulting bars are lobbed from both sides: mentions of living in a father’s shadow, an X-rated adult film and how the twins were essentially the bagmen for their more famous relative (the Warren G to their cousin’s Dr. Dre, if you will). The crowd eats up each rapper’s insults.
But only four minutes in, the emcee of the battle, lacking the impartiality this sort of competition sorely requires, ends the battle in a disqualification, in favor of the trio, after barely preventing an outbreak of fisticuffs.
This isn’t a clip from the Ultimate Rap League or an outtake from some Eminem movie. The face-off isn’t even in the home of battle rap, New York City; it takes place in a basketball arena in Phoenix in 2017. The battlers are actually professional wrestlers The New Day and The Usos, longtime employees of World Wrestling Entertainment.
And the emcee is hip-hop artist Wale.