Well, KOTD did it again. Even with the bar raised so high from WD4, the West Coast stepped up and put on an event worthy of the BOTB name. We have a lot to say about the event itself, but stay tuned for all of it in another article and/or podcast.
For now though, let’s get right to the battles.
NOTE: We’ve added a consensus decision at the end of each battle. The survey size was around 15-20 battlers and knowledgeable fans in the venue.
BIGG K VS ILLMACULATE
This is our pick for battle of the night. It was also the battle we were looking forward to the least and the one with no real backstory. Leading up to this event, K’s skyrocketing stock had stalled after some bad chokes and Illmac needed to redeem his performance against Arsonal. Whatever the reason, both were motivated, focused and dope as hell.
Bigg K was disrespectful from the jump. First he argued the results of the coinflip, then went on to disrespect Illmac, the hosts, the league and the crowd. It was awesome. This is a guy who is a legit hood who has spent time in jail and who can’t get across the border to Canada.
The best part was that he brought the content and the confidence to back it up. Lines like “This ill mac will ring twice – that’s WRCs” and “I’m bi-polar: nice jab, mean hook” show the brilliance of K’s simple and direct style.
Illmac’s performance bordered on what he brought against Bender (which won him KOTD’s Performance of the Year) and it will likely look even better on camera. His verses were intricate, his rebuttals were hot and he even managed to break K’s stone composure, getting a laugh out of him with a line about how K’s chinstrap is only there to fake a division between his neck and head, setting it up with: “I may not have a fortune but at least I don’t have a fourth chin.”
Consensus: No loser
THE SAURUS VS JOHN JOHN DA DON
The Saurus made his return to an Oakland stage, battling in front of a home-town crowd for the first time in four years. They loved him and he loved it. He was a definite contender for performance of the night (along with Pass) – enough to bring him back into the conversation of Battler of the Year.
John John’s first was his strongest, where his approach and wordplay were fresh and direct: “Why am I giving you the shot, if you the vet?” We thought it was original enough to actually negate a lot of Saurus’ first-round attack on JJDD for using recycled bars. John John’s content and performance were both more memorable than his KOTD debut against Caustic (although we still have no idea what he was talking about with the “wimble ‘den” line), and he seems to have gotten the message to stop using “multiple choice” bars.
We felt Saurus pulled away in the second and third rounds, with a highlight being his attack on John’s “pyramid scheme” in a verse that was almost certainly inspired by this epic RMBVA thread.
Overall it was just a really solid, no BS battle. The night’s first classic.
Consensus: The Saurus, either 2-1 or 3-0
DIZASTER VS AYE VERB
As with every Dizaster battle, the winner of this one will be hotly debated. Verb fans will say the St. Louis vet was more structured and composed and that Diz forces multis and spits hot garbage that doesn’t go anywhere. Verb’s third round was fire, with a full history of Dizaster’s childhood and background, albeit one that tread a well-worn path about Dizaster’s rich parents.
Diz fans will love his intensity, disrespect and freestyles. Will people pull apart his bars and ridicule them? Yes. Dizaster is a ridiculous dude, but he’s also ridiculously entertaining.
Personally, we thought the key difference was in conviction. Verb was a complete professional, but one who may be tiring of the job. He showed up, gave the crowd three rounds, collected his paycheque and left. We also hear he was paid the most out of anyone on the card.
For Diz, it’s always personal. It felt like if he hadn’t been cut off in every round, he could’ve set a Guinness record for longest rap battle. We also thought that his freestyles and rebuttals were conceptually strong and performed cleanly.
Consensus: Dizaster 2-1
DNA VS PASS
Leading up to this battle, we heard a lot of people predicting it would be the best of the event. DNA regularly puts on classics in KOTD and Pass is one of the West Coast’s best.
DNA haters will find a lot to love with this battle. He used A LOT of “pass=past/present/future” wordplay, to the point where we couldn’t tell if he was repeating bars or trying to coin a new catchphrase. His best material was actually targeted at Okwerdz. We talked to him after the event and he seemed pretty tired. Hopefully he gets some rest soon because he still has Midwest Miles and Villun in the next few weeks.
Pass broke down every part of DNA’s character, clowning both his excessive wordplay and mother: “You shoulda passed on that retarded ass gene your mom passed on to you.” He called out New York rappers for being wack and Canadian battle hosts for trying to ban him from the league over his refusal to battle Osa at World Domination 4. Another top-notch performance from Pass, and definitely one of the standouts from the whole weekend.
Consensus: Pass 3-0
DAYLYT VS HEAD ICE
About 3 1/2 minutes into Daylyt’s first, it dawned on us: this has got to be a one-round battle. It surprised pretty much everyone, but if you go back a few weeks, Daylyt did mention it on Twitter. Hidden within his nonsense, there is truth… Kind of feels like a metaphor for his whole career, actually.
Daylyt was typical Daylyt. He started with a reference to his altercation with Smack at Summer Madness 3 and had the whole crowd finishing his bar when he told Lush, if he didn’t get his $500, he was “gonna clap this shit up.” After that it was onto “I came Turok/I’m the dinosaur hunter” and the like. As always, Day left us with a bunch of noggin scratchers, but we’ll probably get it once we see it written down. He also put on the skimask just as I.C.E was getting started.
As for I.C.E, the West Coast crowd loved him and his composure and material were impressive. He clowned Day for all his recent nudity and nut-grabbing, basically calling him gay and saying that if you left a comment on the Ass Naked with a Shotgun video, it was considered foreplay.
The way we saw it, it was a G versus an OG. Daylyt is 28 and I.C.E is 35, so we’re giving it to I.C.E for putting in seven more years of living that life.
After the battle, we were talking to someone in the crowd and they said they were surprised that Daylyt didn’t have any antics. That’s right folks – we’ve reached the point where Daylyt can put on a skimask during his opponent’s entire round and it’s considered normal.
Consensus: Split but edged to I.C.E, mostly because he had a lot more material
CHARLIE CLIPS VS DIRTBAG DAN
From all the Instagram photos Dan posted on Twitter in the last few weeks, it looks like he had a much better time in Japan than he did here. In what was the last battle of the night, Dan stumbled, freestyled and repeated a whole verse to get back on track, only to get stuck at the same spot. Jetlag from a 16-hour time difference will do that. His most memorable line was his last: “Everybody takes a loss some time.” We suppose every streak has to end eventually.
At its best, this was a master class in freestyling, charisma and storytelling. Charlie’s “pause the battle, open a new tab in your browser, and go look up how bad Dirtbag Dan’s second round was against Rone” was perfectly executed.
At its worst, this battle really showed how played out Grindtime-era fat jokes and URL gun filler can be. Each battler relied on their coast’s crutch and the drained audience barely reacted to either.
Consensus: Clips 3-0
CAUSTIC VS CORTEZ
Just before this battle started, the club downstairs turned the bass up to 11 and it threw everyone off. The platform was vibrating and the crowd kind of collectively sagged. It didn’t help that Cortez’s first was pretty light. Caustic got cranky over getting cut off in one round and at one point he got booed. We heard it was just one drunk guy who later got kicked out, but it added to the negative vibe of the battle.
But negative vibes are what Caustic is all about. His third, about Cortez hooking up (poorly) with a girl who had been with a bunch of battlers the same day at WD4, was ether. Caustic told us he even skipped a bunch of content because he was afraid of getting cut off again. The moral of the story was: “Once you fuck a battle ho, everyone in battling knows.”
We interviewed Cortez after and he denied the allegations but applauded Caustic for making it sound so convincing.
Consensus: Pretty split. Some had Cortez taking the first two rounds and winning, others said Caustic won on the strength of his third round.
NESS LEE VS REMY D
This was another battle that fell victim to the club underneath and a tiring crowd. Remy had the only real chokes of the night - we heard some people blame his battle with Fredo in some no-name league last week, and with the density of his content and the speed at which he delivers it, it does sound reasonable.
The thing is, both these guys can rap really well. When Remy was on, he drew the crowd in and by the end of the battle, everyone was rolling again. But for the most part, the renewed energy was courtesy of Ness. He showed off his veteran stripes and stayed confident in his delivery, clowning Remy with “You got that I’m-currently-dating-Erykah-Badu swag.”
Consensus: Ness, no contest
TANTRUM VS A-CLASS
This struck us as the biggest style clash of the night. Tantrum was back on form after his WD4 debacle, except for a weird non-choke/possible stroke where he repeated the same few words about six times. In his first, he called out A-Class for feeding into and exploiting Asian stereotypes, saying it was like URL rappers wearing blackface and tap-dancing on stage. Mark our words: his tap-dancing routine will be a GIF someday soon.
Tantrum’s whole first round laid a trap that A-Class walked right into. He brought his usual brand of vicious comedy with a lot of race jokes, notably: “You look like you come to battles dressed to rob your own convenience store” and “How is your best friend Illusion when you were the one who wasn’t there?” The humour hit hard with the crowd, which was a rebuttal in itself.
Tantrum put on a ninja mask at one point, in an obvious reference to Daylyt’s balaclava, but only to air out battle rap gimmicks. The sad part is that this battle will get only a fraction of the views and debate generated by K-Shine and his little person on a leash.
Consensus: Split, depending on preference
KG THE POET VS LOTTA ZAY
This battle went down second on the night and popped off perfectly. It was definite proof that West Coast rappers and fans are not all backpack-wearing hip-hop nerds. It was, as they say, a gun-line, punchline festival. KG’s “When I pull out that ratchet she a trifflin’ bitch” brought the house down, and later, his Riverdance impression almost did too. There was a second we thought the stage might collapse. Dude’s a big guy.
Lotta’s material didn’t hit as hard, but he also didn’t really let it sink in with the crowd. His verses were long and delivered quickly, but we still managed to catch a few great lines, in particular: “I’ll have big cans in your window like Mookie in Do the Right Thing.”
Consensus: Everyone said KG, but some thought it might look closer on camera
CHILLA JONES VS THE DEADMAN
This first battle set the tone for the whole night. Both guys did well, despite nerves getting in the way a bit. Deadman’s imitation of Chilla had us leaned, and Chilla calling out Real Deal (“You teach a sped class”) had us looking forward to Blackout 4. Going early meant Chilla also had the night’s first Serius Jones/Math Hoffa punchline. Throughout the night, a variation of it came probably seven or eight times.
Chilla was mostly concise with his wordplay and schemes, especially compared to his rounds against DNA (aka the War and Peace of battle rap). Deadman’s meta-rebuttal was having QP (the guy who basically invented the scheme as people see it today) in his corner.
A few bars from both of them had me shaking my head no while everyone else was going crazy, so we’ll see how the footage looks.
Consensus: Chilla Jones
Our Day 1 recap is here if you missed it.
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All photos are courtesy of Lemme Kno.
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