By Dylan Deprey
As Da Example ferociously spit his lyrical melee against fellow rapper Qleen Paper, the multisyllabic punchlines regarding Qleen Paper’s mother bounced off the cage they were standing in.
The two were locked in a battle of bars.
Da Example had seen the inside of a prison cell throughout his young adult years, and like a caged animal he had finally unleashed on his opponent in a do-or-die conviction. The two Midwest battle rappers squared off for the Black Ice Cartel Battle Rap event, Death by Design 2: The Grudge released via YouTube on May 17, 2017.
“I did my thing, probably the best battle I’ve had yet,” Da Example said. “I’ll let you be the judge.”
Da Example said his roots in Hip-Hop began when he was 13-years-old, and throughout his teenage years he honed his craft. At 17-years-old, he released his first mixtape following a yearlong stint in Milwaukee County.
After that time, he was steady releasing songs by recording them off his phone and giving the mixtapes away to his family, friends and anybody who would give it a listen.
While working at JL Marcus and still on the bracelet, he would hustle his cd’s to coworkers along with another coworker.
“I was only selling mine for $5, and he was selling his for $10. My coworkers were like, ‘Bro, you’re charging less, but you’re ten times better,’” he said.
After being picked up by a local label attempting to launch a bigger platform, he performed at shows and open mics across Milwaukee and Wisconsin. While recording a project with the late-Milwaukee producer, Kool-Aid, he was locked up once again and unable to release the project.
Once out again, his friend’s brother, Great Britton, was a battle rapper making his way around the local circuit.
“He was chewing all these people up, and he was security at the same job I was a janitor at,” Da Example said.
He began studying battle rap, and was invited to a rap cypher Facebook group where he would instigate battles with other artists.
“They wanted footage, so I started putting beats on and rapping in front of a camera and put it on You- Tube,” Da Example said. “I had like 20-30 videos of me just murdering beats.” He eventually ended up getting a shot at a battle with the amount of content he was putting out. But, when he showed up the other guy didn’t. Though his verses were written for his original opponent, he decided to take on a different emcee.
“I ended up battling Great Britton that night and we went two rounds. It was my first battle ever and I didn’t lose,” Da Example said.
He said his first battle had more of a mixtape flow, rather than a freestyle flow because he didn’t know the format as well. But, his style progressed and he went undefeated for six other battles.
After going toe-to-toe with battle rappers on Meele TV, he joined the Milwaukee-based Battle Rap promoting sect, Black Ice Cartel. They have brought emcees from around the country to battle each other.
“At this point, everybody’s been to Milwaukee, and we even had an event in New York,” he said.
Da Example has more in the works than just battle raps, including a book, modeling and working on a full-length album named after his website, daexample.com. On his website, he has a “Community Awareness” tab, something not normally on a rapper’s website. He intended to showcase black businesses and events, but instead gave the space to a local organization.
“My guy Vaun (L. Mayes) has Program the Parks, and I’m like that’s a real big program than just putting businesses on a webpage,” Da Example said. “I covered the page with his work because it’s for the kids. If you think about it these kids 10-20 years from now will be running the city, so they need to be prepared.”
Da Example stives to lead by example. He said all of the hard work he has been putting into his career is for his children to be proud of his legacy.
“Why not do something where they can remember me by, and know that I was doing something productive with my time as opposed to, ‘Awh he was just selling drugs and going back and forth to jail. I’m basically trying to utilize my talent to the fullest,” he said.