VTHH SUMMERSLAM 2019: The Main Event

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SUMMERSLAM 2019 has been a blast. It was also too fast, extremely flawed, and embarrassingly incomplete. Rappers are always salty about something, but in this case, the critics are completely correct.

Remember, though, this is sports entertainment. The fans need to see blood, and we delivered the goods.

So before I write way too much about our first big PPV event, let’s get straight to the winners, the glory, the triumph.

Here Are Your Champions:

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XP has a cult following and they delivered for him. The legendary lyricist has had a long, prolific career and continues to improve his game on every front. Respect Due.

The Runoff: #2 - Jarv, #3 - Learic, #4 - Eugenyks, #5 - Raw Deff.

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Humble, hard-working, and seriously talented, SkySplitterInk took this one by a broad margin. This was a field full of worthy talent. The race was close early on, but as voting accelerated, so did his lead. Congratulations.

The Runoff: #2 - THEN WHAt, #3 - Es-K, #4 - Dokowala, #5 - Flip Physics.

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The Savvy Row Records team scored big at SUMMERSLAM, securing the belt for their breakout star Blaze Ryan. While they mobilized a big campaign, this category was still a tight, close race. Thanks for keeping it interesting.

The Runoff: #2 - Yung Breeze, #3 - Jibba “The Gent,” #4 - Teece Luvv, #5 - D. FRENCH.

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In a heavily contested category, the human dynamo that is Colby Stiltz managed to edge out his competition. That’s probably because he’s more about cooperation, in terms of his daily grind -- and also thanks to a great run of new material & his tireless work running The Cypher Series, a weekly open mic event in downtown BTV. Props.

You can catch him tonight at the Community Benefit Show for Kyle at Drink, along with a host of other 802 talent convening to celebrate the life of Kyle Hoyt. Be there if you can.

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First & Foremostest

As the weirdo who spent his evening and morning verifying hella email addresses, I have to say: the real engine behind these results is actual fans. Even with several artists trying their hardest to tip the scales, the majority of these votes came from real people, many of whom I already know. They go to shows, they buy albums, they recommend you to total strangers. Artists are necessary, sort of, but without fans like this, there would be no scene.

Of course, The Internet allows for a bigger reach. Special shouts to the many Jarv fans from around the country, who have all been very interesting to talk to. Also, Vermont has ex-pats all over the world and they still pay close attention to the home front.

In terms of our Green Mountain locals, big hot-spots for enthusiastic fans were Brattleboro (bigtime), Burlington (duh), Montgomery (what?), Rutland (ayup), St. Johnsbury (word!), and most especially, Windsor. Which makes sense: Windsor has always had a bizarrely talented mini-scene, and it’s also the only town that’s got two contenders for Heavyweight Champ: Jarv and XP.

So: these winners were chosen by the people. Is that a good idea, though? Let’s discuss!

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Infinite Inside Baseball

The final ballot for SUMMERSLAM is packed full of lessons about why democracy is mostly a mistake. Let’s start there.

For instance, despite securing dozens of nominations for “Best Producer,” XP has never made a beat. I could and should have done better research there, but it wouldn’t have changed the standings (10+ nominations was the baseline). Among the actual producers who did not get included and flat-out should have: Crusty Cuts, David Chief, FATE, Instinct, Jarv (fight me), JL, OldGold, Skywise, Teece Luvv, Wes The Best, and Wool/See.

So to be clear, despite getting a grand total of 44 votes, XP was disqualified from competition. To be even more clear, though, he still would have lost outright to Skysplitter, who took home 53 votes for the SUMMERSLAM Championship.

For another example, emcee / DJ Framework of The Loyalists left the Green Mountains more than a decade ago -- and he’s been making dope rap ever since, as part of Windmills. Despite that, he still secured 21 nominations, just barely making the cut-off to be the Heavyweight Champion of a state he very seldom sees. Is that really a problem? Has he not paid his dues or something?

Eliminating most of the rappers proved less controversial than expected, however. It was a necessary move, and exactly the kind of heel behavior that Mr. McMahon would condone, too.

Still, it’s worth mentioning that a lot of legends and serious talent got 86’d: Asah Mack, Mister Burns, Vazy, Drive, Sasha Travis, Nahte Renmus, LC of Lynguistic Civilians, and Ferragamo Face; all some of the best pure spitters in the 802. So obviously, the methodology here is suspect from the very start.

Five rappers came very close to the Heavyweight division: Dolla Day, D. FRENCH, Humble, Jibba “The Gent,” and of course, Konflik. One big lesson from SUMMERSLAM 2019: everyone respects Konflik, who also received a number of nominations for the Good Citizen category.

Speaking of which, I should also give props to some other near-nominees for Good Citizen of the Year: Big Homie Wes, Cal Rawlings, DJ Kanga, Es-K, Fattie B, Humble, ILLu, Jarv, Jibba “The Gent,” Josh Kerman of Church Street DJs, DJ (& Originator) Melo Grant, Mycelium MC, Princess Nostalgia, Que Beatz of BloodPressureMusic, Rivan C, Steve Shannon / b-boy Wish, THEN WHAt, Yung Breeze and the Bad Art underground show kingpin himself, Zesty Boi.

That is some damn good company to be in, and whatever you are doing to get on that list, please keep it up. It is awesome to see so many generations represented at once, too -- deep roots are important for healthy soil.

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Behind the curtain, there was an abundance of attempted shenannigans this week. Attempted. Even adjusting for the duplicates and alts, of which there were plenty, Blaze Ryan still won fair and square. I don’t hold artists responsible for the actions of their fans, and besides this was pretty widespread stuff. It’s all good, though -- I appreciate the chuckles, and with a few doomed exceptions, those same artists also have very real, very enthusiastic fanbases. Or just some relatives who really love them.

All in all, there were almost 100 rappers nominated, but just over 50 producers. We had a little over 150 Nomination round votes, and wound up with 273 Ballot round votes. That’s encouraging. This won’t turn into a monthly thing, I swear -- too much work -- but there will be another PPV event later this year. The format will be different, less stupid and more valuable, and more importantly, it will be awesome.

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These events are intended to be fun. Hopefully that much is obvious. There are also real benefits to doing ridiculous shit like this. I know that I’m not the only person discovering new names as a result of SUMMERSLAM, and I’ve seen a lot of new connections get forged first-hand. There’s no way to make everybody happy, but I did earnestly try to piss everybody off, so let me know how I did.

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Justin Boland