I suppose with KOTD branding an event that focuses on old-school simplicity in the current age of colossal venues and towering stages, it bears thinking about the kind of message they're looking to send via the headline battles. With Kid Twist and John John Da Don standing over the whole card, Saurus and Rone are fantastic choices to show off the best elements of the pit format.
As battle rap has grown from a moody toddler into a full-on rampaging ogre, its surroundings have grown with it, and while it's not an active choice, the circular pit setup that shaped the atmosphere of the earliest battles has mostly disappeared from major events. It's on the shoulders of Rone and The Saurus' class that the current era stands, and the two of them facing off has the makings of a timeless battle.
After the bizarre debacle that was his recent Don't Flop Philly clash with Daylyt, Rone will be looking to turn his disappointment (despite a reportedly great turn as Abe Lincoln) into something pretty notable. He doesn't battle often (partly because of all the opponents who've canceled on him) but he's one of those rappers who turns up just frequently enough to be considered active and who performs and writes impeccably each time — his only noticeable blip was a jarring choke against Youthoracle on Don't Flop more than a year ago.
Rone will fare very well against The Saurus. There's enough to break down in mannerisms, appearance and approach and Rone writes expertly for imposing challengers with veteran status (his WD4 clash with Real Deal is a great example.) He reaches his comfort zone far more cleanly than The Saurus, and if he is approached with a whirling, sweaty dervish (which, knowing Saurus, is at the very least probable) then he will have no problem letting his easy manner guide his material and his performance. He won't go light. But I think he'll take a more humorous approach to set himself apart from his opponent.
The Saurus is by far the more seasoned battler, and he hasn't let up since the Scribble Jam days, and arguably has more momentum headed into this one — his last opponent even stayed for all three rounds. He is still at almost every major KOTD event, near the top of the card. He's dropped three battles in 2015 to Rone's one: he cites his recent Bender performance as one of his best ever; he showed out strong against Manaz down under; and he showed he could replace Rich Dolarz on short notice against J-Pro at "Blackout 5" and still give a domineering performance. He is still constantly ready to clamp a battle down. He'll be even more ready against Rone.
Nils m/ Skils arguably trumped Rone with an array of precise flips, and I can see The Saurus playing to this strength. Whether it will be enough to undermine Rone's dynamic and smart writing is anyone's guess, but The Saurus' pen is consistently strong and he will not be lagging in that department either.
The outcome of this battle will, more than most battles, be reliant on the mood of the room after a day of other battles. The Saurus can read moments exceptionally well — it's what makes him such a good freestyler — but Rone is the better of the two at reading the mood of a room. On a card topped by Kid Twist, that will become a pretty important factor. The Saurus tends to hone in on his opponent and sometimes lets his volume operate on one level only. Rone tends to manage his performance in a far more reactive way — take his pitch perfect handling of a compliments battle against Pat Stay, or his recent Big T clash. Rone just knows the crowd better.
With the versatility and spontaneity of both emcees so often being called into play, I can think of very few battles that would fare better stripped to their bare bones.
Who do you have? Saurus' power or Rone's poise? Let us know in the comments below.