C-Rayz Walz with 4th Pyramid and DJ Brendan Canning at the El Mocambo (464 Spadina), tonight (Thursday, August 28). 9 pm. $7. 416-777-1777. Rating: NNNNN
Although it may not be immediately apparent from listening to C-Rayz Walz's allegorically rich Ravipops - The Substance (Definitive Jux) disc, the supremely skilled South Bronx freestyle phenom is among the most feared battle rappers still waxing wack MCs on a nightly basis. C-Rayz is the fifth element in New York's 10-member Stronghold crew, which includes fellow underground threats Breez Evahflowin', Poison Pen, Stelf Index and others representing each of the five boroughs. His deceptively smooth flow (reminiscent of his Bronx mentor Busy Bee) carries devastating blows of superior metaphorical creativity with surprising power and agility.
While there are loads of rappers with a knack for spontaneous rhymes who wouldn't stand a chance in a shelltoe-to-shelltoe showdown, C-Rayz has the required huevos to take on the crowd favourites and the killer instinct to finish the job.
Yet even for a tough hombre like C-Rayz, the idea of stepping to legendary freestyle savant Supernatural seems ill-advised. What was he thinking?
"Well, I thought I was going to a Breez Evahflowin' showcase as part of an open-mike night," explains C-Rayz from the Manhattan office. "Someone said, 'Hey, wanna get up and spit?' So I thought, why not? But suddenly I'm battling Pack FM. As soon as I take care of him, some other kid steps up and I battle him, then another kid appears and another.
"After whipping all four of their asses, this dude comes out saying, 'Now it's time to bring the grand champion - Supernatural!' I'm, like, huh? I come to see Breez and now I gotta battle Supernat? What's going on here?"
Since there were relatively few witnesses present and no known recording of the showdown exists, there has long been speculation about what actually transpired. Neither Supernatural nor C-Rayz has been particularly forthcoming with the details. So what happened?
"Anyone who has seen Supernat knows he's one of the best freestylers alive. He just kills it every time. Cats are always asking me about how I felt going against him, and I always say, 'He's a legend, let's leave it at that.' "
But something has changed recently and C-Rayz is putting the word out that he wants to clear up the whole Supernatural question onstage.
"There was this interview where Supernat was asked which MCs he thought deserved props for their freestyle skills, and he said, 'Juice is definitely nice, Eminem holds it down and Eyedea, too.' But he didn't mention me. It's a little thing, but you know, it's the little things that count. That shit was corny.
"So if Supernatural wants a rematch in front of a crowd - with some money involved - I'd be happy to bust his ass any day."