The greatest rapper on the planet lives in Portland.
That is, if you believe the results of the World Rap Championships, a global battle rap throwdown that has been conquered, not once, but twice by local emcee Illmaculate (along with his partner in rhyme, Los Angeles-based TheSaurus). The pair came out of nowhere to capture the 2006 ring (he literally has a ring that says he's the best rapper), and overcame a close match-up against Detroit duo Quest M.C.O.D.Y. and Marvwon to take home the 2007 championship and the $40,000 prize money.
But in addition to reigning over the battle scene, and padding his bank account in the process, Illmaculate (born Greg Poe) is one of the many hiphop soldiers in Sandpeople, adding his mic skills to the 10-member crew. He also has his very own mix, Rain Check Mixtape, and is dedicated to the art of the live show. "When performing live, whether it is solo or with Sandpeople, that is where I'm most comfortable," says Poe. "If anything, battling is more outside of my comfort zone than performing."
While that might be the case, during his many onstage battles, Illmaculate is a natural, his compact frame dancing like a boxer as he mercilessly unleashes violent flurries of (horrifically insulting) rhymes, trading off verbal blows alongside partner TheSaurus. (Hit YouTube to see a wealth of material.)
The two met in California, as he explains: "I heard about the two-on-two battle event at the Mind Games MC Battle down in Menlo Park, CA, and I was familiar with TheSaurus, just through the battle scene in general, and had heard a lot about him and seen a couple battles." Poe adds, "I forget who got at who, but we fed well off each other and figured we had something."
The two have laid waste to emcees from all over the globe, now making them marked men in the battle scene. "We are the biggest targets, but I think we feed well off that pressure. Everyone wants to knock the champ off to get his title. Everyone is gunning for the top spot." But for the time being, there hasn't been an emcee born who can pry that championship ring off the fingers of Illmaculate.
Illmaculate performs at Berbati's Pan on Monday, May 19.