At the Hip Hop Shop, probably 90 percent of the time, it was two winners: It was either Em or Proof. When Em battled, Proof wouldn’t, and vice versa: They never went at each other. Proof was really kind of the king of battle rapping back then.
Curtis assembled an amazing crew. Rodrigo Prieto has become one of the top five cinematographers working today. But at the time, he had not yet even shot a movie in the United States. He’d done Amores Perros, and that’s the kind of kinetic energy and naturalism and realism that Curtis wanted to have in the movie. And Rodrigo shot the movie himself — he was working handheld cameras in the middle of the crowd.