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Aside from being both the origin and essence of rap, battle rhyming is one of the most challenging forms of poetry. With or without music, MCs try to upstage each other with clever, spontaneous rhymes. It requires vocal agility, a keen sense of rhythm, and untold courage. At its most dynamic, it can be an emotion-filled clash of wit and will. At its most rewarding, “rapping off the dome” can fill ghetto practitioners with self-esteem and the joy of creation. Spread Love, the encouragingly titled entertainment company sponsoring tonight’s MC Battle for Independence, defines the event as “a violence-free opportunity for D.C. area youths to express their aggression and creativity through freestyle rapping.” As if that cause were not noble enough, portions of the proceeds will benefit the Center for Sickle Cell Anemia. Of course, real rappers don’t need any excuse, noble or otherwise, to blow an opponent’s heart out of his back with a single verse. At 7 p.m. at State of the Union, 1357 U St. NW. $5. (202) 588-8810. (Neil Drumming)