The rap battle community is still mourning the loss of PH/Pumpkinhead. The outpouring of tributes he’s received from different corners of the media shows just what an incredible impact PH made. While there’s plenty one could say about the man’s legacy in terms of being one of the trailblazing architects of the mid-90s emerging New York indieground scene, including his classic singles, memorable collaborations and trailblazing self-promotion, it’s impressive he became a legend in the recorded hip-hop world as well as in the battle circuit, both spanning several eras.
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For many longtime battle fans at the turn of the century, there’s a good chance a Pumpkinhead battle was the very first that they ever discovered. His memorable encounters against Breez Evahflowin’ and Tonedeff were essential listening for anyone and everyone who searched for “Rap battle” on Napster/Limewire/Kazaa. But after a few years away from the ring to focus on recorded material, the newly rechristened PH returned in a big way to face Dizaster in 2009.
There was something of a coastal tension in the early days of Grind Time. Many felt the New York division wasn’t quite pulling the weight that the other regions were achieving, eventually leading to a changing of the division president and PH being put in charge of (re-)building what New York could offer. Battling being what it is, this eventually lead to PH being goaded into coming out of retirement to face Dizaster, who had rebuilt his reputation following the Jumpoff 2007 WRCs and, with a series of victories early on, had become Grind Time’s flagship artist.
Strange as it may seem knowing how respected Pumpkinhead was during his early 2000s battle career as well as a few years into his return, many didn’t have expectations too high for the veteran. That’s why the huge audience reaction for his excellent performance and definitive victory over Dizaster remains one of battling’s all-time feel-good moments. While PH would go on to have better performances in better battles, his comeback against Dizaster is essential viewing for anyone with even a passing interest in battling.
For more on PH, check out our picks for the first five PH battles to watch.
Donate to PH’s memorial fund here.
Every Thursday, BattleRap.com posts a classic battle that you should know about, or at least be reminded of occasionally. See them all here.