The newly rebranded GZ Battles launched yesterday, with an event that felt like something from the early days of KOTD. The battles were short, in a pit with the crowd surrounding the battlers, and mostly judged. Most importantly, the battlers were hungry and kept the crowd entertained throughout. Not every battle was great, but they all had great moments.
It was the first event in Gully’s hometown of Mississauga and still drew around 250 people (including Gully’s dad) despite being a streetcar, a subway, and two buses away from downtown Toronto. The venue was a club located in a strip mall, divided into a bar with tables and food on one side and a dancefloor that served as the ring on the other.
The new venue, new crowd and some bigger names on the card made for a welcome return of small-scale KOTD events to the city (or at least its suburbs).
After a dry February that produced few quality battles, March has reaffirmed our faith in battle rap. URL ended its drought by finally dropping Cortez vs JJDD and will be back to weekly releases now that their Ultimate Freestyle Friday competition has started airing on BET. KOTD has been dropping their Blackout 4 videos weekly on the main channel and have been quick to release footage from Vancity’s Gastown event. Don’t Flop has released only U.K. vs U.K. matchups this month, and hasn’t made much noise with North American fans outside of a solid battle between Unanymous and Olde English. UW hasn’t made a peep about an official release of their High Stakes footage, but whatever, everybody already watched the PPV or a bootleg of it.
Even with all that going on, four of the five battles we’re highlighting below come from smaller leagues. Don’t sleep.
KOTD Vancouver’s recent Gastown event was supposed to launch the division. Daylyt, who’s always one performance away from another million views on WorldStarHipHop, was taking on Fingaz, himself coming off a strong performance against Ness Lee at Quarantine. The other main event pitted Uno Lavoz against Sketch Menace, fresh after both of them dominated at Blackout 4. Unfortunately neither of those battles happened, along with Cadalack Ron vs Cody the Catch.
The battles that did go down, however, mostly satisfied the large crowd. Some veterans made successful returns to the ring and some up-and-comers gained momentum.
We got the homie Ayem, who made the 17-hour drive up from San Jose with Madflex, to give us a rundown of how things went from his perspective. Ayem’s a Grindtime alum who faced off with DNA in 2009 and who has more recently been putting on some completely slept-on performances against the likes of The Deadman and Megadef in KOTD’s Fresh Coast division.