Last in a series -- ed.
Keke still commands attention.
On the final Kickback Sunday, a balmy September night at Numbers, the crowd has now swelled to unimagined heights. People are here, and MTV will be running a spotlight on the Screwed Up Click original the next day.
Confidence is at a high. Everyone wants to win, everyone wants to see themselves propelled to the top. Trail Blaze, calm and unmoving, shows plenty of fire during a rendition of the Raw Talent cypher but maintains a stoic presence throughout.
Individual sets appease Keke, propped up in the back near the risers wearing a customized black T-shirt fitting his Heart of a Hustla mentality. He clutches a cup of water, taking routine sips in between performers. Everyone is proving themselves, open to the cause and realization of the moment. Then KDOGG appears, swinging enough gangster machismo to awake not only his supporters but Keke as well.
He flashes a wide grin, geeked. "I got to talk to him later," he says.
The night winds down to its finale, a cypher consisting of those who had taken hope the top spot every week during the new competition. Cuddy Mayne, a linebacker-built Hispanic emcee from the group Real Individual Music offers a traditional format of coming off the dome, which draws oohs from the crowd.
Luke Duke rolls through his verse, eager to see victory, his free arm jerking spastically as a sign he's feeling his own words. Then another artist, then-newcomer D Simms, whose punchlines rattle off like a shotgun, each one ripping through with high chants from his supporters.
His set ends, the cheers punctuating the finish as Doughbeezy peers over, looking for the next artist. One passes, then it's KDOGG's turn. Having been beaten at almost every Kickback, the Headwrecka feels the moment and feels Keke's presence.
He launches into it, calculated, spitting a tale on par with pure defiance in front of the police. He's Billy the Kid reincarnated as a cigarette-dragging street kid.