The Battle of the Beard-Rapping Ballers

Only one will survive.

This past April, two of Seattle's best-known party rappers, Sir Thomas Gray of Champagne Champagne and Terry Radjaw of Mad Rad (who also DJs for Fresh Espresso), drunkenly challenged one another to a duel. Not a freestyle war or a battle of words—but a high-stakes game of one-on-one basketball.The loser will get his beard shaved by the winner. Cue shit-talking at Gary Paytonesque levels: "After I shave your beard off, I'm going to make a necklace out of it and wear it as a trophy at all your shows," Gray says to Radjaw over drinks at The Lookout on Capitol Hill."You'd make a necklace out of my beard?" Radjaw retorts. "Dog, after I win, I'm just gonna throw your shit away!"It's been like this for months between the two MCs. When the challenge was issued, the deal was that the loser would have to play Sasquatch beardless. But both parties soon chickened out, arguing that their beards are such a crucial part of their images that they didn't want to risk playing the biggest show of their lives without their trademark facial fuzz. Instead, this Thursday, Gray and Radjaw are playing a game of 21 at the basketball court connected to the Funhouse, with the winner shaving the loser right there on the court. A night of live music will follow, with Radjaw hoping he won't have to DJ clean-shaven."My only concern if I lose is that the people with beards who say 'What up?' to me on the streets, they aren't gonna say 'Hi' to me any more," he laments. "There's a special beard love, there's a kinship."Despite the fact that neither appears to be particularly athletic, what's known is that they're both slick with words. And their nonstop pregame banter has become the most entertaining part of this showdown."Dude, you're like the WNBA of rap," Radjaw quips at Gray while clutching a tallboy of Rainier. "I bet you play like Lisa Leslie!" If that's a dis, it's a weak one, as Leslie is one of the best females ever to lace up a pair of high-tops, and could easily cream most men.As for whose game Gray's truly most resembles, he says: "I think I live my life Lebron-esque, personally. But I'd have to say my game is more like Magic Johnson's." At that, Gray's girlfriend bursts out laughing."What? I've put up 30 on guys like [Radjaw] before," Gray continues. "Now I just have to put up 21. We're playing 21 make-it-take-it. Gotta win by two. Street rules. No blood, no foul—but you can't be hacking."When Radjaw is asked what basketball player's game his most compares to, Gray jumps in immediately: "He's the chubby guy from Teen Wolf.""Fuck," Radjaw says, laughing. "I don't know. I play like a point forward. Maybe like Anthony Mason, but with better handles. He could put the ball between his legs, he was wide, he was solid—but he could score."As for personal weaknesses, both admit they play defense as in an NBA All-Star game (which is to say, not at all), and they're both lax in general. But Gray swears his basketball knowledge "is on Steven Hawking levels, it's so deep."Even more laughter ensues. "To be honest, I can't believe we can charge people $8 to watch us play one-on-one basketball for our beards," Radjaw says. "That means we've done something right in this city where even our beards are infamous. That's so filthy to me."*****Radjaw and Gray easily have two of the gnarliest lion's manes in Seattle hip-hop. But can they hoop? Let's look at the tale of the tape: Stats:Thomas Gray Ht: 5'11" Wt: 180 Age: 31 Terry Radjaw Ht: 5'10" Wt: 190 Age: 28Basketball History:Gray: "Basically they call me Shakespeare in the streets. I'm known as that. I'll have plaster for your ankles waiting. Be sure to get those ankles taped before the game, because it's done."High School Experience Played on the freshman team and then junior varsity sophomore year at O'Dea High School.AAU Basketball Experience Three years. Last Time He Shaved March 2008. Radjaw: "I grew up playing on the streets of New Jersey and Philly, where they take it extra hard on you. I was the slow white point guard that played against the brothers. Do you know what it's like being a chubby, 5'10" white guy playing on those courts?"High School Experience Freshman team and then two years' varsity at Piscataway High in New Jersey.AAU Basketball Experience Two years. Last Time He Shaved July 2006.

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