Let’s be real. Competition is (and will always be) a big component of Hip Hop culture. Back in the day, deejays battled each other in front of housing projects for turntable supremacy to see who could really “rock the crowd.” Underneath the disco lights, B-boys spent countless hours displaying their intricate moves in order to destroy wack toys who dared to enter the dance circle. Last but not least, emcees got on the microphone and unleashed their poetic weaponry in the never ending quest to belittle their much-weaker competitors into verbal submission.
In 2010, the overtly aggressive nature of Rap music has been downplayed by the mainstream media and marginalised by listeners who would rather hear it fused wholeheartedly with the sexy overtone of R&B than ruffle feathers with the ferocity of street knowledge. Thanks in part to the stalwart appearance of battle rappers in the underground scene, this bland uniformity in our beloved culture will never be completely played out to the fullest and the Columbus, Ohio emcee by the name of Peter William Nelson (a/k/a Copywrite) is one of their scene’s most illustrious members.
Having first gained notoriety in freestyle competitions and as a co-founder of the almighty MHz crew, the aforementioned emcee branched out in 2002 and released The High Exaulted album to critical praise. Armed with a grip of fellow MHz member/producer RJD2’s atmospheric beats, Copywrite brought his patented masculine-fueled raps to the ears of audiences who were, by that time, already force fed bling-bling music by monotone rappers who were more than eager to brag about their bank account than their ability to rhyme. Nevertheless, has this particular full-length retained significant replay value or considered just an artifact of the backpacker Hip Hop movement of the late ‘90s-early millennium?
Luckily for Nelson, The High Exaulted is still a pleasure to listen and a reminder that emcees should never be ashamed to display lyrical aggression if it is positively used to further explore the urban genre’s creative potential. The album is fully laced with Copy’s most entertaining lines to date and masterfully encapsulates the brilliance of male angst tempered with an understanding of channeling it constructively in the form of dope music. Take “Best Seller (remix),” for instance. Copywrite takes his high energy approach to dismantling wack suckas on the mic to honestly tell the story of his life and remembering his fallen comrades, including Camu (his best friend), KMD's Subroc and the Notorious B.I.G. “F_ck Soundcheck” is another outstanding cut that lets Nelson cut loose creatively in the sound booth as if he had to wage war on an army of wack battle rhymers ready to take him out with the quickness. Last but not least, “The Final Tower” features other notable rhymesayers (i.e., Motion Man, Dom, Poison Pen and Marv Won) and the scorching combination of dark intensity and quick-witted lyricism is more than enough reason for most rappers to seriously reconsider jumping into their shark-infested cypher.
If there is anything to find fault with on the re-release of the album, it can probably attributed to the singular vibe of Copywrite’s tough rhymes. Most of the time, he never lets go of his angry pose towards the topic of life, love and most importantly, wack emcees who are not on his lyrical level. For example, “On My Dick” is the closest he could come up to appealing to his female fans and honestly, it probably wouldn’t make them feel fully appreciated by his mannish candor. Other rappers have also approached this topic with a “devil may care” attitude (e.g., Akinyele, Notorious B.I.G. and 2 Live Crew) but they at least do it with a playful grin and willing to concede their lust with an honest devotion to the female gender. Luckily, RJ’s sample-laden beats throughout the album provide the right amount of much-needed sensitivity and subtle introspection sorely lacking in the macho lyrics department.
Copy is well-known for sending emcee wannabes out of the cypher faster than you can say “ether.” The High Exaulted, an album he first released in 2002 with Eastern Conference Records, is a fine example of the battle Rap ethos and this particular reissue is chock full of masculine attitude and Copy’s laser-precise rhymes alongside memorable collabs with like-minded mic wreckers and RJD2’s atmospheric sound creations. Those wanting to hear Nelson spill his poetic guts out for the sake of achieving emotional balance might be disappointed and a bit taken back by his unwaveringly warlike posture. However, when it comes down to the art of the Hip Hop battle, it’s always going to be a man’s world and Copywrite will be seen standing in the middle of the charged crowd, ready to put down his verbal challengers with a sly grin.