There is a telling division between those battlers who repeatedly seek out challenging opponents and those more willing to coast through against inferior opposition. One battler’s desire to take down a big name can often be cheapened by their opponent’s desire to secure an easy pay-check. He might (allegedly) be more bark than bite when it comes to backing his Twitter beef in real life, but Unanymous is no coward when setting up battles, and he’s a brave man for taking on fan favorite Shuffle-T at Don’t Flop’s "Sunburn 2" (Sept. 5-6 at Brixton Jamm).
It takes a masochistic streak to be a battler, and Unan is the most bloody-minded of them all. He’s easy to mock, and exposing himself to Shuffle’s lacerating observational humor is an extremely brave call on behalf of a rapper who has pretty clearly lost his last three battles for Don’t Flop.
Yet Shuffle is also coming off the back of an unexpected (judged) loss, outwitted by 100 Bulletz at the same event where Unan floundered against Gemini. Shuffle is at his best atomizing and satirizing the absurdities of battle rap and his opponent’s foibles, but he was wrong-footed as Bulletz dropped his usual brand of ingenious but occasionally forced wordplay in favor of a more direct approach, largely neutralizing the impact of Shuffle’s verses.
Shuffle will do a smart job of deconstructing Unan’s style, but if Unan is smart enough to avoid the flabby, rambling digressions which typify his worst material then he can limit the impact of these attacks. That being said, Unan cannot wipe away five years of hormonal sincerity in the space of a single battle, and Shuffle has more than enough to work with regardless of what Unan says on the day.
Both Shuffle and Unan rely heavily on multisyllabic rhymes, but for very different purposes. In Unan’s mouth they underpin an onslaught of surreal, aggressive imagery, the multis cascading over one another as he builds to a sweat-drenched crescendo. Shuffle’s unique cadence means that each wry quip comes as a surprise. Just when you think he’s exhausted a particular rhyme he adds one more multi in a final, fatal twist of the knife.
Similarly, despite the contrast between their respective rapping styles they both are capable of commanding the stage. Shuffle, arch and aloof, holds the audience in the palm of his hand, whilst Unan slaps them across the face and demands their attention and respect. As performers they are equally talented, and this is a battle that will be decided on tactics rather than bars or delivery.
Unan showed the value of his masochistic tendencies when he took on Dizaster at Don’t Flop’s 5th birthday, willingly battling the man whose style he is often accused of biting. Though Dizaster towers over him in terms of views, fanbase and physicality, Unan stood his ground and arguably won the battle. He’s a natural underdog, and if he comes clean, hard and direct then Shuffle may struggle to contain him.
Predictions for the battle? Let us know in the comments below.