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Although the MC’s are relatively unknowns, by the time they step toward the table to face each other at the MTV2 show, Monday Night Fight Klub, the stakes can get high—in a few cases, they can even lead to a major record contract.
From its first season in 2006, Fight Klub, which was born three years earlier out of an idea to chronicle freestyle battles on video, has become an instant hit in its time slot on the MTV2 channel.
Against a backdrop of graffiti-inspired murals recreating scenes from hip-hop’s early days, MC’s face off in three, 60-second battles in front of an exclusive invite-only crowd. The rappers are judged by lyrical content, showmanship, and flow delivery. At the end of the battle celebrity judges help to pick the winner. The show also serves as a showcase for industry heavyweights looking to discover and potentially sign new talent.
Even before Fight Klub landed on the airwaves, the show’s creators, Bronx born natives Pablo Gonzales and Nicholas Mitchell, were able to find sponsors willing to put up a million-dollar purse to stage a lyric battle between several hip-hop superstars.
The battle never took place but stars within the hip-hop game come to watch the unknown MC’s put everything on the line on Fight Klub, which has evolved into more than just the show. Fight Klub moved quickly from a weekly battle with an underground audience to a media movement complete with DVD sales, radio shout outs, to film and recording projects.
“We had all the ingredients and [the show] just progressed,” says Gonzales, the founder and host of Fight Klub, “there isn’t really a [venue] for an MC … [this] became like the urban American Idol.” The show is filmed at the Fight Klub Music Studios.
The two partners got their start in the music industry by working at different ends of promotions. Gonzales began as an intern in high school while Mitchell worked in the night-club circuit. The combination of street credibility, and word-of-mouth buzz convinced angel investors to pour more than $2 million into the concept. Early last year, Fight Klub moved into a 5,000 square-foot facility in midtown Manhattan. The success of the show spawned two music labels and a recording studio all under the umbrella of the Fight Klub Music Group.
“The company is set up like a small media empire,” says Ray Devers, the chief financial officer for the Fight Klub Music Group. “We’re creating a hub in New York. “We have a lot of strategic partnerships that we’re finalizing…I see ourselves as a portal.” According to Devers, the company grossed a little more than $2 million last year. Devers also expects to see 20% growth for the company in 2008 as well as a 20% cut in capital expenditures.
“This is pretty close to what we envisioned ourselves doing,” says Mitchell, who also goes by the name “Executive Nick.” Mitchell is the vice president and senior director of the show. He is also responsible for choosing the talent and celebrity judges that