"Muchos hablan, pocos riman, solo los mejores improvisan" ("many speak, few rhyme, only the best improvise,") is what they say at the Red Bull Batalla, the world's largest Spanish freestyle rap competition, where Texas-born Jordi Esparza will represent Austin as one of 16 MCs in the U.S. finals.
One of 36 rappers chosen from hundreds of applications, Esparza, who uses Jordi as his stage name, was chosen to compete on Sept. 18 in Los Angeles for the 15th annual finals.
And the pressure is on. Red Bull Batalla is one of the most-watched music events of the year, counting 1.5 million concurrent viewers at the 2020 finals. Esparza had already placed third at the 2020 National Finals, automatically securing the 22-year-old a spot in the 2021 finals.
Going to the finals again is a dream come true for Esparza—a pinnacle that he said he won't know how to top.
"Red Bull Batalla is the biggest thing I want to do," Esparza told Austonia. "I don't know what the next mission is."
Eagle Lake, Texas, born and Torreón, Mexico, raised, watching "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air" is how Esparza spent most of his days. The show's theme song was what originally got Esparza interested in rap, and he even recorded his first freestyle to the tune of the theme song on an MP3 player in 2012.
"I remember the intro, you know, perfect lyrics and good tongue," Esparza said. "I remember when I was a kid, I removed the words from the song and I put in my part."
Esparza moved back to the U.S. in 2015, first to Dallas for a year and then to Austin, where he started to work in landscaping.
The first rap battle Esparza saw on TV planted a seed—he had never seen a rap battle outside of a movie. A YouTube search led him to stumble upon the Red Bull Batalla, where he would take the stage and win at GVK with La Liga De La Calle for the first time in 2018.
"I remember the first year really feeling so bad—a lot of nerves," Esparza said, despite his win. "This year, I don't know why but I feel so relaxed, so happy, I just want to enjoy everything. I'm going to enjoy my dream and I think I'll do a good job."
This Batalla will be a renewed chance at the title for Esparza and an internationally acclaimed award for Austin. Though he's nervous for the final, where he'll battle another rapper in 60-second intervals, Esparza said he's determined to stay in his zone.
"When you take the mic and you say the first words, everything is just you and your mind and the other guy, and you don't feel anything," Esparza said. "Maybe in the future, I can leave my job and I'll make a living doing freestyle."
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East Austin restaurant la Barbecue has been robbed a third time in less than three months, according to a post on the restaurant's Instagram.
In the post, the restaurant included photos of what appeared to be a man exiting a minivan from surveillance footage.
"This guy pulled up in a car full of stuff… he ripped our gate open and stole a couple empty kegs," the post said. "The ring system scared him off so he did not venture back into the area. PLEASE EVERYONE ON THE EAST SIDE BE CAREFUL!!! This guy goes back into his car to grab something before he goes in. I am hoping he won’t be back!!"
The robbery comes as many restaurant and food truck owners have been on guard from recent break-ins. East Austin cheesesteak truck R&B's Steak and Fries has also been robbed three times in around three months, according to owner Kris Elliott. Elliot said the truck was last robbed around a month and a half ago.
"When the weather gets cold, it seems like these things start to happen more often," Elliott said. "We're just happy no one got hurt."
Additionally, he said all 5 of the food trucks in their lot have experienced burglaries. The landlord of the space is taking action by investing in alarm and camera systems. "Been very tough dealing with this problem as us small business owners are just trying to survive during the pandemic," Elliott said.
And it's not just in East Austin. North Austin restaurants Eldorado Cafe and Chez Zee Bistro were both broken into and robbed on the weekend of Jan. 8, while over a dozen food truck robberies and break-ins were reported in the latter half of 2021.
Some, like Chez Zee's Deborah Velasco, wonder if the understaffed Austin Police Department's decision to no longer respond to non-emergency calls is part of the problem. Xose Velasco, owner of East Austin's Discada, said owners are keeping their guard up in the wake of the robberies as he was robbed twice within a month of reopening in November 2021.
"We try to keep the lights on," Velasco said. "We're a little bit more careful."
After 12 months, the long-anticipated massive Tesla factory in Southeast Travis County is up and operating and everyone wants a look inside.
Phase 1 of Giga Texas appears to be tied up as production of the Model Y Tesla is underway, the electric car company revealed on Wednesday in its fourth-quarter earnings call. The factory, located on the former Harold Green-turned Tesla Road, sits on more than 2,000 acres of land in southeast Travis County.
Here's a glimpse inside the factory.
Model Ys will be the first Teslas to come out of Giga Texas with an estimated delivery of August. The wait estimate comes after Tesla noted supply chain issues have affected their factories, which have been running below capacity for several quarters. A deep blue metallic like this goes for $1,000 more than a white or silver Model Y, totaling $61,990.
Model Ys began being produced at Giga Texas at the end of 2020. In general assembly at the factory, the Teslas get their major interior components to finish the vehicle.
Workers at Austin's Gigafactory are attaching seats to a structural battery pack. It's been described by some as the biggest difference between Texas-made Model Y's and the current version at the Fremont, California factory. It shouldn't have a major impact on the owner's experience, but Tesla has updated instructions for the jacking procedure, as the lift points are different.
With a sleek, open office setup, workers can take in a view of the factory from their seats. It's a component CEO Elon Musk wanted for what is now the headquarters of Tesla.
On the Austin, Texas public location Snapchat, a photo of inside Giga Texas has appeared. On the left you can see a sneak peek of a Model Y body.pic.twitter.com/N7zliZ5vkL— Sawyer Merritt (@Sawyer Merritt) 1643081462
With Snapchat's maps, anyone can look at everyday activity happening at the factory. To view these geographically-linked stories, click the bottom left "map" icon and search "Tesla Giga Texas." Once you've found it, you can view the Snapchat story of those in and around the facility. While most stories stay up for only 24 hours, Giga Texas is a designated place on Snapchat, allowing users to view a collection of photos and videos from the inside.
Following Model Ys, Texas-made Teslas will include the Cybertruck, Semi and Model 3. But it might be a while before those other models arrive. EV makers have been hit hard by the chip shortage, and it's thought that changing features are contributing to Cybertruck delays as Tesla works to compete in the electric pickup market.
Joe Rogan paid a visit to buddy Elon Musk this week. The two have been seen around town since both moving to Texas. Naturally, Rogan was impressed with the prototype.
If you're dying to get a closer look at this factory, you just might get to. In December, Musk said the factory would have tours available to the community early this year.
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