Bun B Hosts Redbull’s Philly EmSee Battle, With Performances from Joell Ortiz, Redman, Freeway and More

VIBE caught up with Bun B, Redman, Schooly D and Joell Ortiz on Thursday (Aug. 25) at the Red Bull EmSee 2011 battle series at the Trocodero Theatre in Philly, the third stop of the eight-city tour.
The invitation-only event provides some of the best freestylers in the country an opportunity to compete for a chance to record in Red Bull’s Los Angeles studios with a headlining producer of their choice. Winners from each city will battle for the title in Atlanta this November. Philly’s Mic Stew took the crown against the last standing opposer, DNA.
Hosting duties went to Bun B , along side Philly rap legend Schooly D, Joell Ortiz and Redman, all of which served as judges. The City of Brotherly Love native Freeway also made a guest appearance and surprised the audience with a performance before the event ended.
The competition was heated as it seemed like each battler had a mini fan club in different sections of the theatre rooting them on as they approached the stage for one or more of the following rounds: Visual interpretations, Incorporating a list of given words into their rhymes, and true freestyling (no gimmick, with music and without).
Participating veterans in the game lightened the intense mood amongst the separated rooters in the audience, and other small mishaps (girl passes out and hops right back up, guy is removed from judges’ table for pushing his mixtape during the show). Between Bun B’s smooth talking that relaxed the crowd, Schooly D’s bluntness and jokes, and Redman’s comical, yet genuine plea for rematches, the hip-hop lovers filling the theatre became united. Aliya Faust
Check out what the four rappers had to say:
Being a host…
We really make sure that we touch the hip-hop culture. I try to be as impartial as possible. It’s up to me to make sure that they follow the rules of the contest and to control the house. So when you come to Red Bull Emsee, you’re coming to my house. Don’t disrespect my house, you’ll be alright…All of these guys are pretty talented. I’m just happy to be apart of the whole Emsee competition. Just to see these young emcees out here giving it up and to see that the people still love hip-hop. We had a crazy house tonight. I think that was evident.

Favorite part of Red Bull EmSee 2011…
I always loved judges. Every city has new judges. Every city that we’ve been to so far, there’s always been a judge who we thought was just going to be more laid back, then all of a sudden these contests excite them and they really want to speak to what they see and they really want to talk about it. We’ve had Too Short, Corrupt, and even tonight we had Schooly D. We have been really lucky to have some very strong willed judges that ain’t scared to say what they feel. And I think these artists need to hear that. We don’t want to get up there and sugarcoat the game. This game is rough and they need to know that.

Upcoming projects…
I’m working on a couple of things. I’m organizing some things right now so we got a lot in the pot. Trying to get ready to start a new movement. I’m moving towards being an artist and helping set up this up-and-coming talent, move it to the next level. So I think you’ll see more of Bun B the CEO as well as Bun B the artist. I’ll probably drop a mixtape before the year is over just to let people know that Bun B still got it. But definitely a new album the top of the year.

The evolution of hip-hop…
I was taught that commercial was selling. It’s the business. It’s a good part and a bad part. They were saying that sh*t in 1985. I was hardcore and all [while] Heavy D and Salt-N-Pepper were making stuff to play on the radio. I think there’s always going to be an element of who’s going to stay hardcore and who’s going to be more popular. Popular cats want to be known as artists. And the artists want to be popular. Land in the middle.
Being a judge in the competition…
It’s kind of tough because these kids put everything into their dreams so we become apart of making someone’s dream come true. Seeing them battle, it’s really tough to tell someone, ‘You lost.’  I don’t like to do that. But I’m going to be fair all the time.
Choosing a final winner…
First of all, DNA is nice. I’ve seen this n*gga battle. It was just about the last round where MIc Stew came in and his confidence made his words sound more like, ‘alright I want this,’ that ‘I’m going for your neck,’ kind of sh*t. Instead of trying to hear the hot line, he was going for your neck.

Performing overseas…
I perform a lot overseas. I bring a lot of energy. The overseas crowd appreciates hip-hop more. They have more energy and respect the culture more. I’m telling you, they can have about 1,500 people in the place just for a breakdancing contest. I’ve heard about some big names going over there and getting boo’d. They don’t like that walking back and forth, being cool sh*t. Me and [Method Man] have been going over there since ’92. We don’t even have to have an album out and could do a tour like everything three months over there, just because they want to have fun.

Upcoming music…
Blackout 3 coming. Hopefully a How High II, but maybe not. Something affiliated, but under our own company—Blunt Brother Cinema. We didn’t finish it up, we’re still working on it.