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"My poetry is my rapping. I take my rapping, which I put on beats, and do it a cappella for the crowd," he says. "I've been in the national championships for poetry for the last three years. I was on HBO's Def Poetry Jam. You get to a point when you've battled enough and then you only battle to protect your reputation."
For many rappers who've grown up battling opponents, taking it to the next level entails putting their attacks on platinum records and in the press -- and, every now and then, punctuating them with bullets. It's kind of hard to keep your cool when some guy with gold teeth just dissed you in front of millions.
"In the end, you're not looking for a great battler; you're looking for a great rap artist," says Doane. "Eminem showed you can be an amazing battler and one of the greatest selling rap artists today. I don't think everyone's like that. These guys are great battlers. They're all making underground records. It'll be interesting to see what happens."
Already there is a reality show on Showtime called The Next Episode, which spends some quality time with rappers before they battle. Its debut followed the Battle for L.A.'s release by less than a week late in 2003. Still, Doane believes that the scene will stay underground a lot longer than punk did.
Note to the director: It already has. Battle Act