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.
[Here’s our latest edition of Battles of the Month, penned by Adam “Mos Prob” Felman.]
The guys at T.O. Battle Blog have very kindly passed the rounding-up-good-battles mantle to me this time. These are, in my opinion, the five best battles that the first month of 2014 EVER could possibly muster worldwide. Rhymes were said. Feelings were hurt. Ninja masks were worn. It’s all simply a month in the life of battle rap.
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.
[UPDATE: We have a new list that reflects what’s been going on throughout the first six months of 2014. Check it here.]
Here it is, our last list of 2013.
It’s an attempt to boil down every aspect of battle rap culture, by looking at every battler in every league, to find the definitive best battlers of 2013. It is an ambitious task, and it wasn’t an easy one. Our final picks come after much debate among the writers at T.O. Battle Blog, as well as a few expert sounding boards.
The criteria we used to make our choices include: quality, consistency, impact, achievement, frequency of battle, and difficulty of opponent.
We broke it down into a ranked Top 5, a “Next 5″ for numbers 6 though 10 (in no particular order), and a few honorable mentions. The last group could’ve included a lot more people (namely J-Pro and Lotta Zay) but we had to draw the line somewhere.
But enough explanations. You’re here to read about 2013′s top battlers.
King of the Dot spent much of 2013 trying to find a balance.
In Toronto, Blackout 3 had the biggest audience a KOTD event had ever seen, but the massive crowd meant that it was difficult to see and hear the battles in the venue. For Vengeance 2, the venue was too big for the smaller crowd and for World Domination 4 the venue was fine but the audio in the footage was hit-or-miss and the crowd was often unruly.
The California division rebuilt the West Coast battle scene to its former glory, providing a platform for both returning legends and a slew of new talent. Each event (Resurgence, Alcatraz and Takeover) showed progression, eventually culminating in the year’s best: Battle of the Bay 6.
Calgary’s Quarantine and Vancouver’s GZGP semi-finals events featured those cities’ best matchups to date and hinted at even bigger things to come.
But as for the battles, KOTD put out more classics than any other league this year. The quality of content from WD4 and BOTB6 was unrivaled and most of the big-name matchups lived up to or exceeded their expectations.
Honestly, picking the 10 best battles from KOTD’s releases this year wasn’t easy, so if your Top 10 list varies from ours, we won’t necessarily say you’re wrong.
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.