No battle rap event in recent years is complete without a vascular hit of controversy. That metaphor was crafted in the wake of the latest Cadalack Ron uproar, but it can apply to any fight, Eurgh-directed spitting incident, lines gone awry (thinking again of Cadalack’s Zimmerman bar) or snatched Crip bandanas. Drama follows the form around like a hound. Keep in mind: all of these vague references to the already-well-documented moments above are from the last twelve months.
It’s only apt then, in the shadow of these recent controversies, that Dizaster, on home turf, waited until the end of his headline BOLA 5 word-fight against Math Hoffa, and without hesitation unleashed a barrage of punches that continued long after his opponent had left a vertical stance. Various crowd members stepped in to both add punches and break it up. Barriers were scattered and equipment was damaged in the process.
Last month marked (out) the three-year anniversary of my foray into the battle rap medium. My debut was against one sharply dressed English teacher named Mark Grist back in April 2011. I did it as a platform from which to interview Eurgh for my English Language university dissertation on battle rap (available here in its full glory) and to find out more about a culture by which I was utterly fascinated. Part of me wanted to prove myself as well – I’d only really presented myself/been seen as a joke in the Brighton hip-hop scene up to that point, and I suppose I just wanted to see if I actually was one, on my own terms. I ended up learning way more than I expected.
Here are my ten clearest memories, in no particular order:
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.
One of the hairiest, oddest faces to emerge from the West Coast in recent years, Joe Cutter has elbowed his way into the battle rap community’s awareness with a wonderfully weird battle against Tiger Ty and a killer Ground Zero clash against Reverse Live. Adam “Mos Prob” Felman caught up with him - not to find out anything about him, but just to see what he would answer.
You might know Mos Prob as a former Don’t Flop rapper (who made our Best of 2013 list) or maybe as half of “that battle rap engagement couple” with his American MC fiancé Rapunsell. What you might not realize about Adam “Mos Prob” Felman is that he’s also a massively entertaining writer. One that you’ll be reading a lot more from now that he’s the newest staff writer for T.O. Battle Blog.
Don’t Flop has had an incredible year. They continued to develop a strong stable of domestic rappers able to compete with international opponents, and built a massive fanbase. Twice they hit mainstream media coverage, first with the Probposal (currently at 1.6 million views and counting) and again with Micky Worthless bodybagging pop idol James Arthur’s career.
They’ve hosted stacks of international battles, featuring some of the biggest names in battle rap, including Math Hoffa, Conceited, Real Deal, The Saurus, Daylyt and about a dozen more. But as you’ll see from our list, most of the best battles came from U.K. on U.K. matchups.
High-visibility disagreements between Eurgh and a variety of North American MCs clouded the league’s shine and left fans wondering if they’d ever see some of their favourites in Don’t Flop again. Still, it could be the impetus to draw fresh international faces in 2014.