Charron: The road to respect

Charron at Blackout 4. Photo by Dan Gibson.
Charron at Blackout 4. Photo by Dan Gibson.

Corey Charron became an elite MC in 2013. The 22-year-old Ottawa rapper has been battling since high school, but it was in 2013 that he began dominating veterans in KOTD and other leagues around the world. Now he’s touring Canada, playing sold-out shows opening up for Method Man and Redman. Ahead of Charron’s Blackout 4 battle with The Saurus, we had the homie Seanzo speak to him about his image, his chase for the KOTD chain and his goals for 2014.

Seanzo: While you’ve always had a strong fan base, there have still been many critics. In the past year there has been kind of a transformation of public opinion and a lot more people are riding with you. What do you think has changed? 

Charron: I don’t really think much has changed. I think my performances have been improving slightly throughout the years, but even back then when there was a lot of backlash on online battle rap forums, it takes guys to lash out against. A certain group of people find people they like, and everyone else follows like sheep. I think it’s just a group mentality of who’s popular on forums. If you look at King of the Dot events or on YouTube, I’ve always been a popular battler. It’s only on forums that perception of me has changed.

Charron in 2009.
Charron in 2009.

So you think it’s more through public perception than something you’ve done with your style?

I think I’ve gotten better through this year especially but I’m my harshest critic, so I don’t even like some things in my past. I may not even like the stuff I did this year next year. I don’t really blame anyone if they’re not a fan of it, because it’s definitely a different product than most battle rappers in terms of voice, image, and content. If it’s not your cup of tea, you don’t have to like it. I think I definitely have — especially this year — some of the biggest performances and best battles.

You mentioned your image. You’ve always been grouped in the category of people like Tricky P, Kid Twist or Chedda Cheese — the nerdy white guy thing. Do you think this year people are starting to look past that?

I don’t think I have actually switched up my image. I’m still dressing the same as I always have. It’s more that I’ve changed my content a bit. When I first started battle rap, like when you first saw me against Sandman, I really had no idea what I was doing. I just rapped at parties in high school and to my friends, and everyone’s friends would be like, “Yeah, you’re pretty good.” But when you get into a group of people that have no reason to cheer for you and you can win them over, that’s when you know you’ve got something.

So I just kind of worked with what I had going in that era from 2009 – 2011; it was race jokes, fat jokes, use an angle for three rounds because it was one minute rounds. I just followed the formula everyone else was doing; it was the best predictable jokes possible, and I didn’t really have many bars. Then there was the transformation of bars over jokes which kind of took place in 2012. And then that’s when I realized I’ve got to do bars, so I think I switched my content a bit — I guess you could call it “grown man bars” — I’ve definitely switched up my content to be more bar related. I basically started writing music in 2012, and that has definitely helped me sharpen my pen game.

In earlier interviews, you mention that acting like a Crip was an attempt to bait Shotgun Suge into battling you. What inspired you to come up with this plan?

Chael Sonnen, y’know. I’m just a huge fan of people who take on ridiculous personas, and do it for tongue-in-cheek humour. People wanted to see me battle Shotgun Suge, and he didn’t know who I was, so I thought it would be funny to take on this Canadian gangster Crip persona. People thought it was hilarious, and Shotgun Suge caught wind of it — he was the one who requested me for WD4. So Organik hit me up and it was the second or third matchup set for the event. I wrote for Shotgun Suge, got it done pretty quick, had it memorized for two months, and then he started showing signs he wouldn’t show up. Organik was smart enough to recognize it a week before and set up the DNA battle.

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The Crip thing, though, I don’t know if people think that I actually think I’m a Crip. I definitely do not believe I am a Crip, nor would I ever want to be a Crip; I did it just for fun. And, truthfully, it’s mission accomplished, because I didn’t get Shotgun Suge, but I got DNA, and that got me the second best battle of the year next to Illmaculate and Bigg K. That led to the Arsonal battle, and I was one of the only people — maybe since Okwerdz — to 3-0 Arsonal. It got me my two biggest battles and is probably the reason we’re on the phone right now.

Charron vs DNA at WD4. Photo by Dan Gibson.
Charron vs DNA at WD4. Photo by Dan Gibson.

Against DNA you called for a title shot, and a lot of people were saying that you should get the title shot instead of Dizaster. Lately you mentioned you’re not really looking for the chain. What’s changed for you?

Basically I viewed the chain for so long as something that would get me to the next level — the level I’m at now, where I can get the battles with people in the calibre of DNA, Arsonal, other people like that. So when I made my chain run, battling guys like Tricky P, Manaz, HFK — all respect to those guys, they’re great — but I was looking for a different demographic and fan base: the Smack battlers who could introduce me to a new audience.

If they had offered me a title shot after DNA, I would have definitely taken it but I’m picky with my battles these days; I only want to battle people I could have a lot to say against. I feel like if I got the chain and I was forced to battle someone I didn’t want to, I wouldn’t deliver the performance that people would expect and my stock would drop.

Do you feel that chains fail to hold weight in the era of promo battles?

Yeah, I agree. Everything is promo. What’s the point of having judged matches when the staff could just select who they want? Like Rone and Real Deal. That’s such a close battle. I don’t know who won that. Sometimes I think Real Deal, sometimes I say Rone. It’s promo, but someone would have lost if it had been judged. But if the staff want someone to have a title shot, they can say “it was close enough” and then give it to someone like Real Deal. In this case, you’re just playing favourites where the staff could pick who’s in the title match instead of the person who deserves it.

I don’t know if there even needs to be a chain at this point in battle rap. Everyone’s doing promo and fans are okay with it. Getting the chain isn’t really the pinnacle of battle rap. If you look at past champions, Bender lost to Sketch Menace and his stock dropped. Before he battled Sketch his stock was higher. Kid Twist isn’t really battling anymore, and Hollohan isn’t doing much either. Soon as you lose it the fans turn on you saying: “Oh you had your chance. We’re not riding with you anymore. We want someone else to go for the chain.” I think at this point it’s more beneficial for me just to stay away from the chain and keep doing the matchups I want to do and keep delivering career performances.

Charron and Pat Stay. Photo by Cree Ware.
Charron and Pat Stay. Photo by Cree Ware.

Regardless, Dizaster or Pat would be incredible matches for you. Who would you like to battle next? Will you just take whoever wins if you get the next shot?

I would battle both those guys. Both of them are MCs who would force me to go outside my comfort zone and do something crazy to beat them, like switch up my pen game and angles. They have established characters where I could break down Pat or Diz. With people like Pat, Diz, Arsonal or DNA, I can break down their character, and I like doing character assassinations. That’s where I think I’ve improved. In 2011 – 2012, I would battle whoever. Organik will tell you now it’s like pulling teeth with me because I’m very picky with opponents.

To sum up, what are your goals for 2014?

I’ll be doing battles too. I’ll most likely do a World Domination battle. I’ll probably go to the U.K., Australia and the Philippines and I’d really like to try a UW or Smack battle for 2014.

I received my first grant from MuchMusic and I’m doing a music video in Toronto. I’m really focusing on music for 2014. I’m putting out an album for March or April. I’ve already locked down some very respectable features, and got some really good songs out. I’ll do some music videos, try to play shows and big festivals. I’d also like to break the Guinness World Record for longest freestyle.

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Follow Charron on Twitter and check out his music on YouTube.

Read why we thought Charron was the #1 MC of 2013.
Check out our recap of Charron’s Blackout 4 battle with The Saurus.

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