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.
Against all odds, Saturday was a great night for battling. Despite the no-shows, the chatty crowd and dead energy on Friday, Day 2 featured some outstanding battles, bringing the much-hyped Blackout 4 to a satisfying close. You can read our Day 1 recap here.
First off, a quick note on the no-shows. Six battlers did not show up in Toronto this weekend. (Organik went into specifics in this RMBVA post.) Here is the list of them, along with their opponents in brackets: RemyD (Osa), JC (Rone), Ill Will (Real Deal), Aye Verb (Shotty Horroh), Rich Dolarz (Loe Pesci) and Big T (Bender). It sounds as if King of the Dot is trying to make Shotty/Verb and T/Bender happen soon, even if that means sending Bender and Shotty to the States. Stay tuned.
Back to Saturday’s battles. Credit must be given to the MCs on the bottom half of the card. They set a good tone for the day and did a fine job of engaging the crowd. Speaking of which, the crowd for Day 2 was not only better than the previous day’s, but was arguably the most respectful KOTD audience in Toronto in some time. It’s amazing the degree to which a receptive, engaged crowd can enhance the quality of the battle.
Now, onto the battles. And remember: there will be plenty of spoilers.
The Ground Zero Grand Prix is shaping up to be the hottest ticket in North American battle rap. Round 2 has a strong crop of hungry battlers with well-defined personas from all over the stylistic map. The best part though, is that there’s actually something at stake: wins and losses mean something.
We were at the Toronto event last night, but we’ve also got recaps from Vancouver, California and Calgary from league presidents La Sparka, Aspect One and Sketch Menace. Scroll down for those, but read Toronto first.
A good recap is going to have some spoilers. Be warned.