NOTE: KOTD announced that this battle was cancelled just as we were publishing this piece. So, instead of our usual "what to expect" series, this piece will examine "what could've been." We wish Carter a speedy recovery.
After a brief honeymoon hiatus, I came back and my first assignment, our Editor Chris tells me, is trying to pinpoint what on Earth could happen during the meeting of minds that will be Carter Deems vs. Head I.C.E. for KOTD's “Back to Basics 2.” On the one hand, I love writing about Carter Deems. He might be my favorite battler in the world right now. On the other hand, trying to understand a match-up like this one is like trying to break a piñata with a toothbrush. And the pinata is a real donkey. Which is alive. And violently squirming. And wearing a tiny hat.
So thanks for nothing, Chris.
Carter Deems is the go-to funny guy du jour, and his current surge in popularity is owed in no small amount to his most recent rug-pull against Illmaculate – a surprise clash in which he came across very well and proved to be one of the most memorable performers at the inaugural “Back to Basics” event. He has been performing pretty much non-stop since his post-break re-emergence against Lex D, and the graft is paying off: from recurring battles in smaller leagues like Power and Respect, No Coast and Spit Dat Heat, he is starting to pepper his resume with Illmaculates and bigger league performances (such as his Don’t Flop USA debut) and raise the right eyebrows.
To give you an idea of his current esteem: Head I.C.E asked for this battle. Carter Deems half-called out I.C.E in his interview with us, and I.C.E wasted no time in responding. If you can rise to the top of I.C.E’s priority list doing what Carter does, you have to do it pretty darned well. Carter does not have a huge amount of experience at this level, but hopefully that will fuel his awkward schtick rather than force him to overproject or break character (the B2B format should take care of that), but expecting or even defining a win for Carter is tricky. Is he going to break down, intimidate or even out-dry humor Head I.C.E? Probably not.
It’s impossible to predict Carter’s material. But I think a win for Mr. Deems would simply involve overturning this match-up’s detractors (you need only look at our announcement article to gauge just how stupid people think this battle is) and proving that a great piece of entertainment can come together regardless of the stature or popularity of a battler. He like doesn't care about a victory. He just wants to go home and share a hot chocolate with his cats.
One thing you can guarantee is a host of references to wolves and love. Missing that would be a sorely wasted opportunity on Carter's part.
I.C.E's effortless cool is at stark odds with the oddball boasts about microwaves that Carter might send his way. His résumé, too, boasts an entirely different caliber of battler: his last seven opponents were KG The Poet, T-Rex, The Deadman, K-Shine, X-Factor, Caustic and Serius Jones. He's always been a formidable contestant with a unique style, but he's still getting better. In a similar way to the Illmaculate clash, though, a series of grueling fixtures may mean that I.C.E will be in the mood to play things more loosely than usual.
He is not sleeping on Carter Deems. He has accepted this knowing full well that Carter will try to make himself look as silly as possible and take I.C.E and the whole event with him. And I.C.E has the poise to avoid overdelivering and his confidence, patience and fluidity have rendered him virtually immovable for years.
Yet, despite their obvious and marked contrasts, the pair have more similarities than any detractors of the fixture might like to admit. They are both loved by fans and hugely respected by battlers. They are both unwaveringly authentic and true to their vision. They are both unflappable, really, when it comes to keeping composure. They just execute those similarities in very different ways.
The question is not whether I.C.E will win. You have to win in a certain way against Carter Deems, and it's not by being the harder, more authentic guy. The question is one of The Wolf taking a few risks and stepping outside the box and the label that fans have made for him. I both dread and cannot wait for the way he will approach this.
There's so much thinking involved in this that transcends battle rap's normal comfort zone, on the part of both performers and organizers, that I can't help but see the hierarchy fall apart a little bit if this battle really goes off. In the best possible way. And these two are a beautiful accident waiting to happen. I.C.E is of a certain school but open enough to embrace styles outside of the street one he inhabits so neatly, and Carter Deems is a pastiche rather than a parody — he plays with the tropes of battle rap but his deftness with wordplay shows a real love of the format, and his control of the pace of a round is understated but masterful.
This is the polar extremes of battle rap hitting each other — more than Charron vs. Shotgun Suge, more than Shuffle-T/Marlo vs. Dialect/Zen, Kid Twist vs. John John Da Don, or any other variant on the theme. This is Head I.C.E waltzing into territory no URL mainstager has visited before, and this is Carter Deems with the opportunity to be ridiculous at a level he's probably a little scared that he could reach.
I cannot wait. And I won't sleep until I see Carter Deems vs Dizaster.
Thoughts? Let us know in the comments below.