Rum Nitty is the latest star to emerge from the West Coast battle scene. Active since 2009, the Arizona native made his KOTD debut last year, quickly earning respect in the league’s Fresh Coast division. Nitty’s stock hit new heights with his now-legendary battle against Danny Myers at Battle of the Bay 6. Their tilt was the epitome of a classic California battle: fun energy, quotable lines, inspired performances and a hype audience. For some fans, it was the best battle of 2013. With momentum on his side, Rum Nitty made his Toronto debut at Blackout 4 – and for the biggest crowd of his career. We spoke with Nitty about his battle history, his thoughts on the Myers bout and aggression in battle rap.
TOBB: How did you get into battling?
Rum Nitty: Well shit, just like any other nigga my age. It was just around me. Music was an outlet for me to get things off my chest. The battling actually came with my style. A lot of my partners were telling me I already had a battle style. There wasn’t too much to it.
Why did you get into it?
I’m very competitive. I don’t believe in getting into something and trying to be No. 2. Who doesn’t want to be No. 1? Battling is probably the purest form of this music. It was a real simple decision.
I picked up a Smack DVD and saw Murda Mook vs Party Arty and that got me sparked to it. That was the first battle I had ever seen and I became a fan. Then I found out the West Coast was doing battles and it really made me want to do it.
So you’ve been into it for a long time.
Yeah, I’ve been watching and being a fan for a long time.
So your first battle was in 2009, but in 2013 Lush named you Fresh Coast Rookie of the Year.
Yeah, that was humbling. That was crazy.
What do you think made you stand out this year?
I’m coming from a lower scene in this battling shit and I made it to my first KOTD battle, which didn’t go how I wanted it to. I had some stumbles in it.
That was against Konshis Pilot?
Yeah, exactly. But they liked me and gave me another chance. They liked my work ethic – that I would go hard no matter what they gave me.
The battle with Danny Myers. Give me your thoughts on that.
Danny Myers was the craziest opponent I ever went against. I knew that as I was preparing, but as he got in that room, it was different. I’m not gonna lie. He showed me some shit that I wasn’t ready to hear from him. [Laughter]
He kind of caught me off guard. I was glad that I overprepared. I put it like this: If I came how I did for Young B or AB Hoggish, I would’ve gotten dismantled. So I’m glad I stepped my bars and performance up and it made for a classic.
What were you thinking when he was spitting his first round? The crowd was quiet at first but then he starts gaining momentum. When you’re watching an opponent bring the crowd to his side, what’s going through your mind as you’re waiting to perform?
I was kind of nervous. I was like, “Damn, I hope my bars are what I think they are.” When he first started, I was like, “OK, that’s something I can deal with.” I was comparing my bars with his, then as the crowd started getting into it, I was like, “OK, this is how it’s going to be.” I don’t think I get much crowd reaction, ever. I always think I could get more. So when I’m hearing him getting all this fucking crowd participation, I’m like, “Damn, I hope they like my shit like that.” When my first round was done and I looked into the faces of the crowd I was like, “OK, this is a fight.”
What is it about that battle that makes it so special?
The atmosphere. I don’t care what nobody says, little-room battles are great. It had the legends in there. You see Lush, Aspect, Plex, the style clash and a lot of people. It was a little friendly. But if you notice, I wasn’t the one throwing handshakes out there, but I was respecting and accepting the handshakes. It didn’t really bother me.
That plays into the energy as well. It wasn’t too hectic, there was no fake beef in the air. It was straight bar for bar. Just straight hip-hop, man. It’s a good example of what battling should look like. I’m not saying it’s the greatest ever, but shit, it’s a good example of what two MCs should come as. He was ready to catch a body and I was ready to catch a body. I think that’s what makes it exciting.
Who do you think won?
It’s debatable. I would like to say I won and he would like to say he won. I think we both won. I thought the culture won. My stock definitely rose. Look, I’m getting the interview. I think we all won.
There’s kind of been a tension in the air at a lot of events. The stakes are high, everybody’s tense and the battle that you and Danny did, it just broke that tension. Let’s have fun, let’s make battling fun again.
It’s showing the fans that this shit is just entertainment. For a minute, this whole pocket-tapping and getting-into-each-other’s-face shit became more of the art form than actually battling. Like, don’t try to punk me, out-rap me. There are certain people that if they didn’t have aggression, they wouldn’t be shit. Without disrespecting and pocket-tapping, they wouldn’t be shit. And it’s changing the game having people who are not even from that background act like that. Now they wanna get in people’s faces.
I think the Myers battle showed the fans and the battlers that we don’t gotta be on that shit.
It can be entertaining but ultimately I’d rather see a better rapper than a tougher guy.
Exactly. I like aggressiveness and you see I’m very aggressive, but I’m not trying to give you the thought that I’m really trying to disrespect you. It’s just entertainment. You can get in my face, just don’t touch me. It’s for the fans at the end of the day. A lot of the fans don’t like that.
So you just had your first battle on the big stage and your first one in Toronto against Tycoon Tax at Blackout 4. What did you expect to be different?
Nothing really. I was kinda wondering if the fans were gonna catch everything. I didn’t wanna change my style too much. I watch a lot of Canadian battles. I was feeling kinda comfortable. I wanted to do me and do my thing. I wasn’t all that nervous. I was hype as hell, since it was a bigger event. I’d never battled on the stage with a mic on me, so that was different. But other than that I was ready.
What did you think of Canada?
It was cool, but it was cold as hell. Everybody was supportive and held me down out there.
How has life changed since the Tycoon Tax battle?
Not much really. The feedback from the people who watched the pay-per-view was hype but the big push will come once the footage drops.
What did you think of the battle?
I was surprised with how much reaction I got up there. People had warned me that Tax gets a lot of love in Toronto so I was expecting him to have the home-crowd advantage. He did his thing but I think I was more direct. That was the lesson I learned against Myers - be more direct - so I wanted to go right at Tax.
It was great though. That’s the biggest crowd I’ve performed in front of so it was dope to have them reacting that much.
What’s next? What are you goals for 2014?
Just keep grinding, man. I’ll be battling in L.A. soon. Get me a big name, that’s it. I want some East Coast blood. I want some New York niggas. But other than that, just become a household name.
Check out a track from Rum Nitty:
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