For a long time, Uruguay was one of the most damaged countries in the freestyle scene simply because of… Uruguay – and everything about its territorial and demographic conditions, of course – pre-stop had very few appearances in international competitions, not to say only in Red Bull.However, things began to change for charrúas from high-quality underground events such as the 3x or competitors like FD who, with their participations in Battle of Teachers, crossed the border on several occasions showing that in Uruguay the pot was boiling.As tangible evidence of the change was the return of Red Bull Battle of the Roosters (now only Red Bull Battle) to the country and the possibility that, Through certain competitions, all Uruguayans can contest the rise to the Freestyle Master Series of Argentina, the professional league that not only unites the best talents, but also pays their competitors, allowing them to live off the freestyle.
In 2019 it could not be: Spektro stayed at the gates of the play-off, but Zaina took it from him in the Federation Cup and no charrúa could even peek into the Argentine league. However, the 2020/21 season saw with a better face the possibility of someone on the other side of the Río de la Plata competing in FMS. And so, going over the ranking of the date, we see Naicen, Wordplay and Hammer, with whom we talk about the possibility of ascending, pointing high on it.
The ranking of promotion to FMS Argentina until March 2, 2021. Photo: Instagram @esquinafreestyle12.
He still owes some lyceum senior year subjects, but Naicen is first with 55,000 points in the rankings, is a national champion of Red Bull Battle and Aczino was planted in the International Final of the competition with which he met freestyle. However, he still steps on the collectives as training and work.» The touch I heard rap, I hung myself with pulling rhymes. I always liked to do rhymes, even before I met the rap. And well, I started freestyleing from a young age, cut 10 years. That was growing: I took it seriously, as a passion. I’ve always dreamed of getting upstairs and fighting to get to the top of it by doing what I like,» he explains.
The Fifth Step and the Red Bull of Argentina were the first glances; their friends and the cyphers beside them, instead, their drivers. This sums up the competitive life of Camilo Pagani, a 22-year-old freestyler born in Montevideo and known on the scene as Wordplay. That name is also fourth in the rankings with 50,150 total points.» After a few months, most of my friends were a little left wanting to stick with freestyle and I was still very involved and eager to go on. That’s when I met the kids of Rappin’ in the Garden, which is the group I’ve been with every week to throw freestyle and practice a little, never battle. To this day it is where I feel most comfortable within the whole freestyle movement including all kinds of battles, squares and scenarios», says Wordplay about his evolution as a freestyler.
On weekends working in a burger joint and having entered the hip-hop universe through graffiti, Hammer scored a sum of 47,200 points, which placed him in fifth place on the ascent, above revelations of the season such as Naista and Jesse Pungaz or under stars such as Roma.And while he is close to the ascent, he still has a couple of MCs ahead of him that take him away from the play-off, Hammer is clear that it would bring to the Argentine league a hardcore style that, to this day, in his words, is being lost.
How did you receive, in 2019, the news that Uruguay was also joining the promotion to FMS Argentina?
Naicen: It made me happy, because it’s a way to bring to the air the talents that are in Uruguay.Wordplay: Nationally I thought it was a huge step. Being taken into account for such competition is no small thing for a country that until then did not have much recognition. On a personal level I was totally indifferent because I was not competing yet, I started competing regularly in battles in the middle of that year. Ascending was never a real ambition because I was off my goals being new to the move. Hammer: It was very good to learn that we were going to participate in the promotion, more than anything because here in Uruguay the chances of competing outside are very few. If it wasn’t for FMS, the only really professional chance of leaving Uruguay is to win Red Bull. In that sense it’s a very good opportunity. which is a good modality? Or would you rather there was an FMS Uruguay?
Naicen: I prefer to be allowed to be promoted to FMS Argentina because I do not see one viable in Uruguay both by public who see us and economically. I think it’s okay. Wordplay: I think it’s good, although a Uruguayan-only league would also be amazing. In networks, the emergence of several Uruguayans on the rise has been very controversial and there was much criticism about it. I totally agree that the league is designed for Argentinians, but if we are given the chance I think we have to be respectful and empathetic about that. As a competitor, no matter the country, what you want is to grow, improve, measure against better people, and there are many factors that make it really complicated. The possibility of a league in Uruguay seems far away at times, until we recognize that sometimes what we lack goes more on the side of the exhibition and to make ourselves known, and that is when you can dream about that option. The media tends to make a bigger difference between Uruguay and Argentina. While I think inclusion is fair, I also believe that point-sharing needs adjustments and a clear explanation from the beginning of the sum of points. This would avoid problems or complaints at this point. Hammer: Clearly I would like there to be an FMS Uruguay, but I know that we are just starting to make a name for ourselves within the international scene and it is only a matter of time before such competitions begin to arrive.
Why do you feel that, suddenly, almost from one year to the next, both Red Bull and Urban Roosters began to notice the Uruguayan scene?
Naicen: It was little by little, by steps that were taken with the competitions that were in the squares and that began to go viral. Many pieces were moved so that Urban Roosters, Red Bull and the world would realize that there is talent in Uruguay.Wordplay: I think it is generated because the level of Uruguay, coupled with some international outings, had made it clear that we were ready. Also the inclusion of more Latin American countries in Red Bull. In the case of FMS, I find it a little more striking since it is a more exclusive league that makes up fewer countries. Hammer: I think we’ve been striving for years to get through a scene of battles that didn’t exist in Uruguay and you’ll gradually see the results. Clearly the arrival of Red Bull and FMS is the beginning to professionalize what we do and also to be seen from the outside, something like a chance to show level. If you ascend, what do you think you can bring to the Argentine league?
Naicen: I can bring you a lot of energy, attitude and spicy battles. I’m someone very spicy confrontational and I know Argentina has a lot of that. I am also a lot of the structures, of dimensioning and responding, the flow… I’m versatile. Wordplay: Having real new faces; not only in my case, but in the event that any Uruguayan ascends, because, as I said earlier, the media makes known much more to Argentine competitors (logically and it is fine that it is), to the point that we know perfectly many of those who are fighting the ascent. More specifically in my case, I think it could give you a share of wit and a not-so-usual rapping and fresh ideas. Hammer: Personally I think it could bring you hardcore and a style of battles that you’re missing a little bit today. The shock and the search for the constant punchline is something that characterizes me.
If you weren’t the ones who ended up ascending to FMS, how Uruguayan would you like me to be?
Naicen: I would like Alexunder to ascend, which is still ninth but of the Uruguayans out there I think is the one I would best represent in the FMS. Wordplay: Realistically, Naicen or Hammer would say because they’re the ones who still have a real chance of doing it. But I have no doubt that Alexunder and Spektro are by far the most prepared. Both with regard to the format and the name and career they have: years on the scene, international participations, recognition in general. Hammer: I would like that, if it is not me, ascend Franco, because in addition to being high representative of Uruguay is the person with which I threw my first freestyles and being both at first level is something epic, but seeing the table I think I would give the same thing that Alexunder, Wordplay or Naicen go. I have a good relationship with all three of them and I see them very capable. During the last few days there was a lot of controversy over the modality of a promotion competition that, to qualify, you had to get a certain amount of likes. Do you feel that this benefits the best known, leaving relegated those who do not have as many followers, as can be the case with the Uruguayans?
Naicen: I don’t think it’s that good because they don’t value effort or talent as much, but more about people’s fame. Wordplay: It’s clear that a mode like likes benefits those with more followers the most. Still, it doesn’t bother me for the same reason why I say I don’t see any way for the media to focus more on the Argentine landscape than on Uruguayan. At the end of the day, commercial competitions seek to be able to sell the most and get to greater recognition, not really have the best. In addition to being the latter somewhat subjective, the characteristics required to be part of a league of FMS dimensions not only go through the level, but also by other factors such as image, exposure and personality in general. Hammer: I’m not really aware of this kind of news of the ascent. I understand that it may be a way to simplify the qualifiers for this compe, we as a scene with less audience have less access to fewer people who can vote, but they are the rules of the game and we are to play.
There is also much talk of FMS as a paradigm of sports freestyle, but FMS is seen as the most «artistic» of all. Do you see it that way?
Naicen: Depends on how you take it. I believe that in anything that is rap competition there may be a more sporty point of view, of trying to be attacking all the time and of going to efficiency, but it is up to each rapper. As much as they put modalities on you and all that you can free yourself artistically. Replik was a case that was always very artistic on FMS. If you take it sporty it’s like more than «you’re going to win the battle», if you take it more artistic «you’re going to give it a good freestyle» and both seem fine to me. They actually go hand in hand and how everyone takes it. I think I take it more artistic: trying to throw a more elaborate freestyle, beyond going to the sporting. Wordplay: I consider that, first of all, battles, when detached from freestyle, are an artistic discipline. However, I do not think it is wrong to say that it has sporting qualities, we are literally talking about a competitive league, in which everyone looks for a way to earn their points to be as high as possible and not descend knowing that there are more competitors who are fighting for that place. The fact that you want to win, receive a medal, a cup, be the best in the country, are traits of a sporting competition. It is not necessary to divide whether it is art or sport, because it is both and it is perfect that it is, because they are two worlds that can live perfectly in harmony. Hammer: I’ve always seen FMS as very sporty. I think you lose the crash a little in battle (although there is still) and you judge the disciplinary side of the free more, I think that coming out of the typical round trip with replica to 4×4 I gain more sportsmanship, yes.