I’m sure there were fears that Deffinition, who a couple of years ago quit battling and had all of his videos delisted, would have been forced by circumstance to tone his flagrant transgressions over the boundaries of poor taste down a notch or seven. However, his opening gambit in this battle, an unapologetic ‘What’s up you bunch of fucking cunts?’ is a reassuring burst of energy, and exactly the re-emergence the character of Deffinition needed. Paul Tweddle, his real life counterpart, is probably staring wistfully at his resume. Deffinition just finds that funny.
The entertainment is worth it. Deff barges straight into gloriously uncomfortable territory concerning Uno Lavoz’s alleged exploits with Saurus’ ex and still comes across likable, witty and, when necessary, incisive. ‘This entire round I’ve just been freestylin’ it’ is a note-perfect callback to his deadpan mannerisms and sense of irony. He even calls time beautifully — there are few things more beautiful in comedy than the list that never finishes, but the list that barely starts can be counted among them.
The Saurus jumps straight in with what is essentially a round of great name flips and he instantly has the edge on Deffinition in both projection and rapping terms. Saurus seems a little uneasy with how to level himself against Deff's self-awareness, and at points he reigns the energy in to match his opponent without realizing that his energy is what carries the round and what really hammers home his wordplay. He still had a thundering first round and had the crowd thoroughly onside throughout. "Knock out the Possessedness in him/ That’s the Deffinition of an exorcism" is a concrete reminder of why The Saurus is still at these events.
Deffinition then goes on to address his absence due to work issues in a seriously irreverent way that pretty much ensures he’ll never work as a teacher again, and then starts to satirize the stereotypical Smack rapper nonchalance with regard to losing. He’s remained wildly inventive without having developed his style a great deal, and he’s one of the enduring figures of U.K. battle rap for this reason. Ring rust (or perhaps just growing up) has taken some of the aggression from his performance, but his writing has whatever the opposite of ring rust is. On the theme of ring rust, Deff closes off the round with some on-point pops at The Saurus’ string of engagements and a deliberately terrible slow-it-down. Bad bars are nothing new, but his intentional mauling of wordplay setups sucked a little air from beneath the wings of The Saurus’ impressive host of name flips.
There isn’t a laggy round in this battle, and The Saurus followed suit and proceeded to fully rap his ass off. He was forced to counter Deffinition's idiot-savant act with more dynamic delivery for the battle, and a greater variation in tone than we’re used to seeing. It gave a whole host of levels to his performance. His second round was less direct than Deffinition’s but hit often — although he essentially used some pretty funny jabs at the Don’t Flop “Batman vs. Joker” battle to launch a superhero scheme, which is becoming the new Street Fighter scheme. I’m not sure how many more ways there are to mention them.
Deffinition starts his third with a silly stiff-upper-lip British skit before launching into the serious part of his material defending his absence and then teetering off into pretty much one complete tonal switch per couplet. His third is his least inspired round, but still drags laughter from the crowd and closes off in the sort of clumsy strokes of genius stupidity that always marked Deffinition as a captivating character. That said, he veers too hard into self-aware sometimes, and that is evident here. It's hilarious, but he's a deceptively sharp writer and I wish he devoted even 50% of the airtime he spends winking at the viewer to dismantling his opponent more.
The Saurus' third round is his best, making the most of Deff's delisting situation. It reminds me a little of his third against Charron and his breakdown of his exclusion from the BET Cypher — succinct, well-phrased and powerful enough to visibly have Deffinition looking a little bashful. It rounds off a little too quickly — I feel that there is maybe an extra 30 seconds of momentum in the angle — but it finishes a close-knit and old school battle, and the short rounds keep the atmosphere rumbling on.
I call it 2-1 Deffinition — it's an extremely close match-up and was always going to be, so you've every right to post vitriol in the box below. He was just more direct for longer, and in the moments during which the emcees weren't really attacking their opponent — The Saurus' schemes and wordplay and Deffinition's clowning — Deff still made the whole concept of scheming seem a little bit awkward. As I mentioned, he undercut The Saurus with that, maybe not even intentionally.
This was a great battle that seemed to reflect the fun and slightly silly atmosphere of the event.
Cover image by Christian Andrabado. Follow him here.
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