- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Standing outside the Red Line’s Glenmont Metro station, a voice bellows from the passing Y8 bus headed north on Georgia Avenue, “Yo, Adversary. Did your thing son. We out here for you all day.”

Chris Suer, 25, of Glenmont, doesn’t recognize the voice, but meets and hears from new people every day since recently winning “Freestyle Friday” on Black Entertainment Television’s (BET) popular “106 & Park” five weeks in a row from Sept. 18 to Oct. 16.

Mr. Suer, known by his rap name Adversary since he was 14, is not a new kid on the block. He initially performed freestyle raps in the John F. Kennedy High School cafeteria while his friends provided makeshift beats by pounding the lunch table. Mr. Suer then began traveling to university campuses, such as James Madison, Howard, and Maryland in College Park, to compete in regional freestyle competitions.

“It was easy money,” said Mr. Suer, who recalls selling his CDs in the hallways and at the Redskins store at Wheaton Plaza, where he worked while in high school. He now sells his music online.

At 16, Mr. Suer released the first of his four albums and seven mix tapes. In 2005, he co-founded the independent label Black Ink Entertainment, which he promoted after each win on “Freestyle Friday.”

Adversary also can be heard on WPGC-FM 95.5 and WKYS-FM 93.9, where he appeared for more than 20 consecutive weeks from December 2004 to May 2005 as the “Ultimate Cypher Champion.”

BET’s “106 & Park,” set in Midtown Manhattan, first aired Sept. 11, 2000. The introduction of “Freestyle Friday” soon followed. After numerous transformations and reincarnations, the segment now reaches more than 1.2 million American viewers with a growing overseas viewership, said Pat Charles, senior show writer for “106 & Park” and casting director for “Freestyle Friday.”

To appear on the show, Mr. Suer auditioned July 24in New York City, where he competed with nearly a dozen aspiring rappers over the course of three hours.

“Adversary is the first from the [D.C.] area who has come on and stood the test of time,” Mr. Charles said. “The best way to get respect is to earn it, and he’s done that by showing how much creative talent and stamina he has. All that tough talk doesn’t work. He understands the value of true lyrical-based entertainment.”

On March 5, 2010, the second annual “March Mayhem” begins. Eight past winners will compete for a large prize package, including free beats from some of hip-hop’s most successful producers.

“The winners won’t just go home with the glory,” Mr. Charles said. “They could launch a career by going to a major label with their demo with industry recognized production.”

He added that “this year’s tournament is highly anticipated and will be extremely competitive. I see Adversary being one of the favorites.”

Since qualifying for “March Mayhem,” Mr. Suer has shared the stage with platinum selling hip-hop artists Fabulous and Young Jeezy at Bowie State’s homecoming and spent long hours into the night working on his next album in BassHeads Studios in Silver Spring.

“The best feeling was proving to everyone I’d accomplish what I said would. I don’t get big-headed about fame,” said Mr. Suer, who is a residential counselor at a group home in Montgomery County.

“More people know who I am now than they did a few weeks ago but I’m on a mission I have to finish,” he said. “There is entirely too much going on in these streets to be sidetracking our youth with garbage music and facades.”

• John Muller is a writer and photographer living in Montgomery County.

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