I came up in what many consider to be an epochal time in the Detroit hip hop underground, roughly 2001 - 2004, when cats like Quest Mccody, Swann, Marv One, Hostyle, Subverse, et al were very active on the local battle circuit and at the top of their games. This was a time when the rap battle had a great deal of cultural relevance, with 8 Mile turning lots of casual music fans on, and MTV, HBO, BET, etc. giving freestyle emcees significant exposure.
I think most of the elite battle rappers have moved away from the scene because battling has proven itself to be a dead end of sorts career wise, and certainly not a reliable path to commercial success. The failure of cats like Jin, Serious Jones, Eyedea, etc. to crossover and make #1 HIT JAMS has created a climate in which battle rappers are often stigmatized by their success in verbal brawls. They are thought to be lacking in their ability to make meaningful, conceptual records (nonsense, obviously, as some of the most rigorously conceptual hip hop albums of the last decade were authored by prominent shit talkers up to and including my own 2006 release, Golf View Drive).
I get nostalgic watching tapes of old battles because I know I used to do it for reasons other than upgrading my life's gastronomical quality. The battle used to be a fun way to sharpen your knives and measure yourself against some of the hungriest cats on the scene. In that spirit I would like to extend the following challenge to any Detroit rapper experiencing malaise with current the state of affairs: I will battle you, on the roof of John King Books, the only stakes being that the loser will agree to not eat waffles for the next year of their life. That's right, no waffles for a year.
So holler at your boy, my acerbically tongued colleagues, and let's get this shit popping.