The Three 8 Mile Battles

Three battles at the end of the 8 Mile movie made Jimmy Smith aka B. Rabbit a reputation in the rap arena. A real challenge for Jimmy Smith who was left with no voice at the beginning of the movie: a typical case of stage fright.

People who are not very much into hip hop need to realize the importance of a rap battle; rap battles can be compared to battles we have to face in real life. Words used in a freestyle or a rap battle are like a sword, they expose your opponent in a total nudity. When you get verbally ripped off, it is your turn to show your teeth and to use your verbal weapons in order to weaken your adversary. It's a matter of honor, you have to expose and verbally annihilate your enemy in order to make him look bad or ridiculous in front of the crowd that expects your answer with impatience. You can feel this kind of fever in 8 Mile when the crowd shouts : « What? What? » which means that it is your turn to respond.
Eminem perfectly knows the importance of a battle:

" That's one thing that I want this movie to get across, is that people who live in this world of hip-hop -- how seriously we take this, how seriously we take our music and battling and the sport of it and the competition and everything."

Losing a battle is terrible in an aspiring rapper's mind. Since the time he was unable to spit any word on stage, Jimmy Smith had been humiliated by Alex who had cheated on him with Wink. He had been knocked out by the Free World leaders in real life.

He had to take his lyrical revenge and prove his skills - also in order to keep his honor safe.

Three battles will help Jimmy to build his reputation.

Lickety Split battles B Rabbit on the « whiteness » of his music. He enumerates numerous white artists like Vanilla Ice and Elvis. He wants to prove that Jimmy's music is bad rap or even worse, no rap at all. The reference to Willie Nelson who -by the way- makes country music is intented to ridicule Jimmy. The only reference to a black artist is Tina Turner in a weak position, when she gets beaten up by her husband. He also points out his mistakes and the mistakes of his friend like Cheddar Bob!

« Yo, this guys a choke-artist
Ya catch a bad one
Ya better off shootin ya-self wit Popa Doc's handgun
Climbin up this mountain, ya weak
I leave ya lost witout a paddle, floatin shit's creek
You ain't Detroit, I'm the D
You tha new kid on the block, bout to get smacked back to the
boone-docks
F**kin Nazi, this crowd ain't ya type
Take some real advice
And form a group with Vanilla Ice
And what I tell ya
Ya better use it
This guy's a hillbilly this ain't Willie Nelson music
Trailer trash
I choke ya till ya last breath
And have ya lookin foolish like Cheddar Bob when he shot
his-self
Silly Rabbit, I know why they call you that
Cuz you follow Future, like he got carrots up his asscrack
And when you act it up, that's when you got jacked up
And left stupid like Tina Turner when she got smacked up
I crack ya shoulderblade
You'll get dropped so hard that Elvis will start turnin in his
grave
I don't know why they left you out in the dark
Ya need to take your white ass back across 8 Mile to the trailer
Park. »


In the first battle, Bunny Rabbit battles his opponent on his sugarcoated music style that questions his masculinity and his music style that looks like it was aimed at a 100% female audience. The first sentence is hilarious:


« This guy raps like his parents jerked him? »

The great majority of a hip hop battle audience is usually composed of men:

« He sounds like Eric Sermon
The generic version
This whole crowd looks suspicious
It's all dudes in here
Except for these bitches? »

He goes on making fun of the Free World leaders:

« That's ok, you look like a fuckin worm with braids
These leaders of the Free World rookies
Lookie, how can 6 dicks be pussies? »

He also makes himself look in a positive light, he enforces his role as a fighter and shoots at his enemy in a funny way. Lickety is too slow to follow Rabbit's rapid flow:


« Ya they call me Rabbit
This is a turtle race
He can't get wit me spittin this shit
Wickedy Lickety shot
Spicious spickety split Lickety
So I'ma turn around wit a great smile
And walk my white ass back across 8 Mile? »


Bunny Rabbit conquered the crowd. But he had to battle Lotto.
Second round. Second fight.

Like his fellow Lickety Split, Lotto comes with a strong racial argument, which appears to be a bad strategy:

« Huhhh huhhh
I'll spit a racial slur honkey sue me
This shit is a horror flick
But a black guy doesn't die in this movie
Fuckin wit Lotto dog you gotta be kiddin
That makes me believe, you really don't have an interest in livin
You think these niggas gone feel the shit you say? »

His hatred of Jimmy as a white man clearly appears in his whole speech. Jimmy fully counters his attack in the second part of his verse:

« Matta fact dog, here's a pencil
Go home, write some shit, make it suspenseful
And don't come back until somethin dope hits you
Fuck it
You can take the Mic home wich you
Lookin like a cyclone hit you
Tanktop screamin, "Lotto I don't fit you"
You see how far them white jokes get you
Boys like, how Vanilla Ice gone diss you?
My motto:
Fuck Lotto
I get the 7 digits from ya mother for a dollar tomorrow? »

Bunny Rabbit makes the battle become more lyrical as he criticizes Lotto's writing ability:

« Matta fact dog, here's a pencil
Go home, write some shit, make it suspenseful
And don't come back until somethin dope hits you
Fuck it
You can take the Mic home wich you
Lookin like a cyclone hit you
Tanktop screamin, "Lotto I don't fit you »


He also definitely shuts his mouth about the « white jokes ».

Third and final round: Bunny Rabbit vs. Papa Doc.

Bunny Rabbit has managed to get rid of two of his enemies. He feels better about himself and has gained some confidence.

He now rallies the crowd from the 313:

« Now everybody from the 3-1-3
Put ya muthafuckin hands up and follow me
Everybody from the 3-1-3
Put ya muthafuckin hands up
Look look? »

People from the Detroit ghetto are proud to belong to the 313 area calling code. People from the 313 are supposed to be cool unlike the people from the 810 area.

Jimmy's strategy is intelligently worked out. He perfectly knows his worst enemy, who-by the way- doesn't raise his hand:

« Now while he stands tough
Notice that this man did not have his hands up
This Free World's got ya gased up
Now who's afraid of the Big Bad Wolf? »

He knows that he's a gangsta wannabe. There is nothing « ghetto » nor « gangsta » in him :

« 1, 2, 3 and to the 4
1pac, 2pac, 3pac, 4
4pac, 3pac, 2pac's, 1
Your Pac, he's Pac, No Pac's, None? »

But Bunny Rabbit's best strategy is his huge honesty and it will pay off in the end. He doesn't hide what he is nor his mistakes:


« I am white
I am a fuckin bum
I do live in the trailer wit my mom
My boy future is an Uncle Tom
I do got a dumb friend named Cheddar Bob who shoots himself in his leg with his own gun
I did get jumped
By all 6 of you chumps
And Wink did fuck my girl
I'm still standin here screamin fuck the Free World! »

Then Rabbit reveals Papa Doc's intimate and hidden secrets to the crowd:

« But I know somethin about you
You went to Cranbrook, that's a private school
What's the matter dog you embarrassed?
This guys a gangster? His real name's Clarence
And Clarence lives at home with both parents
And Clarence parents have a real good marriage
This guy don't wanna battle, he's shook
Cuz ain't no such things as Half Way Crooks!
He's scared to death
He's scared to look
At his fuckin yearbook
Fuck Cranbook?»

Jimmy's great force lies in his total honesty. He is not ashamed of living in a trailer park and even proud to be « white trash »:

« Fuck a beat, I go acapella
Fuck a Popa Doc, fuck a clock, fuck a trailer fuck everybody
Fuck yall if you doubt me, I'ma piece of fuckin white trash I say it proudly
And fuck this battle I don't wanna win, I'm outtie
Here, tell these people somethin they don't know about me? »

Papa Doc is left totally unweaponed and speechless. Happy end for Rabbit who eventually wins his fight for recognition.

These 3 rap battles from 8 Mile also teach us a lesson about real life: don't try to play yourself. Be honest, accept yourself with your imperfections, your failures, your mistakes, but always be yourself.

I do teach English and German at public schools. I am an Eminem biographer and a freelance music journalist.

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