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Many of you are familiar with the infamous “Iron Mic” rap battle viral video, which hit the net in 2007 and managed to get Eli Porter shouted out by Kanye West on “H.A.M.”; with millions of YouTube views, it is…something to behold. If you haven’t seen it, peep:

Eight years after the original video was shot, a couple of young filmmakers decided to find out more about Porter and the other kids who created the famous clip. The result is Eli Porter: the People’s Champion, which takes a look at how a disabled high school kid became an internet meme. The documentary explores the thin line between rooting for an underdog and mocking someone who very earnestly chose to become a rapper, despite obvious challenges. My personal feelings are mixed: if Eli likes it, I want to love it. But I can’t help to wince knowing that he has been somewhat exploited by this entire thing. The video was a big guilty pleasure for me when I first saw it, but a few years later, I’m a lot heavier on the guilt side when I watch it.

Check out the documentary here. The homie Jay Smooth from Ill Doctrine is featured and (spoiler alert) “Action” Jackson from the original video grew up to be pretty darn fine.

People’s Champion: Behind the Battle from Trent Babbington on Vimeo.

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  • atlpeach

    So random, this was my high school! Yet, I never knew about this meme or Kanye shoutin’ out someone from my school (all this happened the fall after I graduated). I do remember when we started watching Iron Mic battles in the cafeteria tho and I remember a couple of those judges.

    Random story, Jackson (judge on the right) rode my bus, and someone hit me in the back of the head with a plastic bottle “accidentally” on the way to school one a.m. I was trying not to let anyone notice me crying but he was sharing my seat with me looking uncomfortable with my boo hoo-ing. Possibly the worst day of h.s., and there were a few.