If all you know about rap battles comes from a few liberally edited airings of 8 Mile
on VH1, well, you need to drop the remote and head for the giant Amoco sign. Since 1998 the Hi-Pointe's Monday nights have been reserved for the weekly Open-Mic MC Battle, where from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. Lamar "MC Finsta" Williams and the Midwest Avengers' John Harrington host DJs K-Nine, Smitty, Charlie Chan and others while fifteen hip-hopefuls -- up to 10 percent of them female -- get a go on the microphone. "What I've noticed about most open mics is that there's no organization," says Finsta. "And the biggest thing we try to do differently is not to coax people into getting hot and battling. It's more about honing skills. Of course, if one doesn't like the other's rhymes, and if they get into it, we don't really mind that either. We try to keep the atmosphere as free as possible." You gotta be 21 to do Battle; ladies get in free till 11 p.m. If you're interested in participating, be sure to heed the advice of one B-Rabbit: "You better lose yourself in the music, the moment. You own it. You better never let it go."