One battle can change everything. Just ask Shotty Horroh. The Manchester, England-based MC has always been a force in battling. But things changed when he faced Arsonal, the most-viewed battle MC of the YouTube era. That battle vaulted Shotty to new levels of fame on both sides of the Atlantic and opened up matchups against some of America’s best.
Another person who took notice was Deadmau5, the Toronto-based musician and producer who plays sold-out shows around the world. In short time, the two were recording tracks, the first of which you can listen to here. Few battle MCs have made smooth transitions to the music industry, but Shotty seems poised for stardom. Equally potent on a beat or a cappella, he’s a skilled, charismatic rapper with limitless potential. And with a big battle against Aye Verb waiting for him at KOTD’s Vendetta 2, look for Shotty to turn heads yet again.
We sent Shotty some questions ahead of Blackout 4. Here are his answers:
You’ve been on a hiatus for several months. Some battle fans thought you had retired. Why are you coming back?
Well I kind of did retire, although I’ve always said “never say never,” and I’ve always said I’d come back if the fans really wanted it. I took a break to continue with music ’cause a lot of big opportunities came up for me in that field in 2013. The thing is, battling is like a drug and I’m hooked and this is the perfect show to return on.
Based on some tweets you sent out, it sounds like you won’t be battling in Don’t Flop any time soon. What’s the situation with you and DF? What are your issues with the league?
Yeah I can’t see that happening anytime soon, ha! The issue I have with DF is a respect thing. I don’t like how a lot of my friends have been treated, how I was treated, etc. I understand it’s business, but there are ways to do business and keep your integrity, if you have any.
Of course, I’m not happy with not getting anything at all from my main event battles, ’cause it was my name selling tickets, as well as Arsonal, Math Hoffa, etc. My manager and a few people that drove me all the way there had to pay to get in to the Arsonal battle. I didn’t expect anything from my other battles ’cause I was climbing the ladder. But if you’re paying Math and Arsonal $3,000 each to battle me and I get you over 3 million [YouTube] views in under a year, then hook me up!
I just don’t like how that particular promoter handles business. There’s no bad feeling though. I don’t care. I wish them luck. I’m just not involved. But they have a good roster and some solid battlers. I’m cool with almost every single DF battler so I wish the roster good luck.
What has battling done for your music career?
Battling has done a lot for my music. It gave me a wider audience. I did music way before I battled, so I’ve always kind of had my own little fan base. But soon as I started battling, it became global.
How did the collaboration with Deadmau5 come together? What can we expect to hear from that project?
The Deadmau5 thing was crazy. He tweeted about the Arsonal battle, so I thanked him and he messaged me and said: “Look I wanna work, I’m flying you out to Toronto.” I flew out and stayed at his apartment for a week and made some insane music. He’s a fuckin’ genius and he knows his shit when it comes to battling. And the guy’s got bars! Mau5 would fuck up most rappers.
In this era, very few battle MCs – if any – have achieved mainstream success as musicians. Why do you think that is?
I think it’s because they don’t try to. I can’t think of any battlers whose aim is to make mainstream music. I’m sure they would all love to, but these guys love this side of the game. There are guys that have mainstream potential, but I don’t know, we’ll see.
What’s the difference between being good at battling and being good on a track?
I think the main ones are rhythm and breath control. It’s all good a cappella-rapping when you are free to fit as many words into the bar as you want, but when you’ve gotta sit in that kick and snare, it’s a different ball game. I say breath control, ’cause again, when there’s no beat, you can breathe when you want to. But on beat, you have to learn when to breathe or you sound sloppy as shit.
On the flipside, you can’t just be making songs and thinking, “Yeah, I can battle, it’s easy.” Fuck no, it’s not. This is for the elite.
Of the battlers making music, whose tracks do you listen to?
Loaded Lux, Illmaculate, Loe Pesci, Bender and Osa are all sick musicians. Lux is my favourite musician/battler ’cause he is next level.
Norbes from URL says he wants you on the URL stage. Is that in the works?
Yeah, I’m gonna battle on URL. It’s a dream of mine, but I’m just being patient. Shout out to Norbes and all of them at URL.
Finally, what can we expect from you in 2014, both in battling and music?
For live updates from Shotty’s battle with Aye Verb on April 19, follow TOBB on Twitter.