Posted Saturday, February 24, 2018 by RODNEY HOemail@example.com on his AJC Radio & TV Talk blog
In a season where the kids often struggled in their pursuit to become stars, Jermaine Dupri gave the fourth season chain on "The Rap Game" to the delightfully adorable Street Bud from Atlanta.
This is the second time in four seasons Dupri has chosen a hometown winner. Season one, he picked Miss Mulatto from Atlanta. Season two's Mani was from Los Angeles. Season three victor Nova hails from Reading, Pa.
Street Bud, who was just 12 when the season was taped last spring and was the youngest of the contestants, showed the most charisma and style among the five kids. At times, though, he would lose focus.
When I participated in a mock press conference last year, I asked the five kids who they think should win if they didn't. All four of the other contestants chose Street Bud, which says something right there. (In the end, my appearance during the penultimate episode was edited out but my question was later used by actress and rapper Teyana Taylor. Amusingly, Street Bud only figured out who she was after she interviewed him.)
"This dude is a star!" said producer Ble$$ed during the finale episode before his final performance. "With the way Street's energy translated in the studio, I know he's going to knock it out of the park."
Street Bud's mom Cori comes off as smart, cool and collected, grounding her son and letting his talents flourish. He gets teary when he deals with the pain of his father being in prison since he was four.
But what about the other four?
Miss RapUnzel has a great look and attitude but she seems to lack a sharply drawn personality. (Her mom Tiki? Hilarious! She needs her own show!) Lil Bri came across the most mature and socially aware but Dupri questioned whether she has real star power. Jordan could come up with great lyrics but he had no stage experience going in and had a difficult time finding the line between confidence and cockiness. Ricci Bitti of Atlanta had a sound listeners liked but she had the toughest time.
The final performances were held at Buckhead Theatre and all five did a good job. Dupri told them he felt like they have all improved since week one, when he left genuinely worried about the season's cast.
"Your interview to Teyana Taylor made it clear you have something to say," Dupri told him. "You combined the combination of swag and aggression I was looking for. You are maturing an artist."
"His final performance was lit," Dupri later added. "Enough said."
Here is who came in second through fifth:
Fifth place: Ricci Bitti. "You have definitely grown. But I feel you have more growing you have to get," Dupri said.
Fourth place: Jordan. Dupri told him: "I feel like that kid I saw in the videos needed to come here to turn into the kid I see now. You have to keep reaching for the light you talk about." Earlier, Dupri said Jordan carried an "El Debarge" vibe. (His stage presence is far better than it was week one.)
Third place: Lil Bri. Dupri told her, "As a rapper and the mindset you have, I know I'll see you again. You just need to let yourself out of that box."
Second place: RapUnzel. "You dropped the model routine and talked about your fight," he said, of the final performance. "You're so ready, so prepared."