Mixtapes on Fire --A Short Quarantine Read by Author Rafael Alizo
Mixtapes on Fire
When you run a recording studio, you never know what might happen. A funny thing occurred during a session with rapper H6LL, who was told that my place was one of the best in town, discreet, with the right equipment, and that many prominent artists had used it.
The session started as usual; I listened to an acapella version of his lyrics. We tried some tunes, and in less than an hour, we were in the recording booth. He was accompanied by six of his men, an unusual number, even for a rapper. Of course, they can come with whoever they want, but it is well known in the industry that the ideal is to bring just a few when you go to record. For example, I’m only with my friend Clarence, my right-hand man.
The first song, I have to admit...it sucked. It was typical rapper crap about ‘I’m better than you, look at my gun,’ and so on, with more swearing than common sense. There were a couple of songs that actually weren’t bad; sure, they talked about drugs, but it was entertaining and gave some sort of final message.
The thing is that by the end of the fifth song (showing us that we were going to need more recordings, and we were going to leave everything for the next day), the doorbell rang; Clarence went to answer it, as we didn’t want to interrupt everything in the middle of the session. The music was cranked up, and H6LL was burning when I started hearing screams from outside.
When I went there, I found a massive guy pointing a gun directly at Clarence in the doorway, followed by another one, a head shorter than him. The little guy was wearing purple all over, and it made me think he was just another rapper who wanted to shoot something impulsive; it wasn’t the first time it had happened, but it was the first one where the guns showed up right away.
“Clarence, what’s going on?” I asked.
“I don’t know, man, this guy wants to see H6LL.”
“Listen, sir, the man you’re looking for is in the middle of a…”
“Bullshit!” He said, “Get that bastard over here.”
I was about to do it, but as soon as I turned around, the guy told me that he’d better go in, and behind him, some guys looked loaded. Something terrible was going to happen that day.
When we arrived at the cabin, H6LL’s friends rose from their seats, raising their guns towards the new guests. Clarence and I ducked down, and we understood why H6LL had opted to bring so many armed men around the studio for a simple recording.
H6LL came out of the booth, more irritated than a Lion in a hornet’s nest, seeing everything that was going on outside. He went to the central table of the room, and that’s when the mess started. Apparently, the purple guy was Grapes, an old rival of H6LL, who would use the booth two days later. Apparently, being a shrewd strategist, this information was procured by H6LL , and was used for him to have a project before his enemy. Clarence and I later claimed to have been in a state of flattery, despite being aimed at by two different sides.
The two began a verbal war, which seemed to be straight out of a diss track. All the henchmen were about to shoot, one in front of the other, with Clarence and I being the only ones who had nothing to do with it. After a grueling five minutes, they agreed that the decision had to rest with us. It was then that the weight of the world fell on our shoulders. They excused Clarence, saying that I was actually the studio owner, so I was the one who should make the decision.
I didn’t know what to say by then; I mean, H6LL had already paid for the place, but his move was awful for his opponent, who had no bad intentions, to begin with. I proposed to them to settle their problems elsewhere. Still, they said that if I didn’t respond now, they would all end up in a massive shootout and that even suicides would happen if necessary.
The blood rushed to my head. My legs were shaking, and I said I didn’t want to have that decision. So, Clarence and I would leave the room to see who the victor was.
“Do you think this is a game, man?” Said H6LL.
“Choose one of us, but you have to be careful, because if not…” followed Grapes.
And that’s when I had the most bizarre idea, but I had nothing to lose (only my life).
“What if you two have a rap battle? The winner will have the studio for his next mixtape for free.”
Until the last minute, I thought it was a stupid idea, but when they said it didn’t sound bad, I thought I had managed to save myself by the skin of my teeth. The only problem was that we didn’t know who the judge would be. So, we agreed that it would be some kind of demo, released to the market and let the public decide based on sales. They both agreed, and even though it was seven o’clock in the evening, we stayed up all night listening to the two of them verbally eviscerating each other.
Every so often, I would see Clarence. We wondered if their minions would really be okay with everything that was going on. Noticing their happy faces once the rappers left the booth, we knew it was a bold but wise move. In the end, I thought about upping the bet, asking if they wanted to do a track together. At first, there was reluctance, but it would be to promote the demos.
How did the matter end? Easy; the single that sold the most... was the promotional one. I uploaded it to the internet, and it had three times more downloads than the individual singles combined. The funny thing was that after seeing the result, the two rappers teamed up as a duo, who didn’t hesitate to do their recordings with me, as long as I gave them 50% off. We left it at 25%; after all, I also had to earn my living... literally and figuratively.