“I can’t believe it’s your seventh birthday,” Charron said to fresh-faced Don’t Flop up-and-comer Juan during their clash this weekend. Juan actually came of age this weekend, turning 18 overnight between the two days of Don’t Flop’s marquee 7th Birthday Weekend event in London on Nov. 14-15.
The overall vibe of the weekend was not so much a coming of age for Don’t Flop itself — that happened at the 4BW — but a reminder of the maturity and strength in depth that the leading British league now possesses. We were in the building to watch the battles, speak with the stellar line-up of British and North American performers and soak up the vibes with around 1,000 affable fans. Here’s a day-by-day breakdown of the highlights, with interviews, reactions and exclusives to follow.
UPDATE: Hey! We got a first look at the new trailer for the pay-per-view.
You can buy the full pay-per-view or individual battles from Don't Flop.
Battle of the day: Raptor vs. Pass OR Oshea vs. Kid Twist
Battle of the day: Raptor vs. Pass OR Oshea vs. Kid Twist
Sorry to start by sitting on the fence, but this one really does come down to whether you’re a fan of bars or jokes. Shotty Horroh used his final bars in what he says was his final battle to hand over responsibility for his “graveyard” to Raptor, who had already accepted the mantle by putting on a no-holds-barred contest with 2015 standout Pass earlier in the day.
The Mancunian emcee gave a typically ferocious performance, but was perhaps just edged out by Pass. The Oakland vet wasn't quite as good as he was in some of his other performances this year, but seeing that it was his U.K. debut, the crowd mostly didn't seem to notice. Heavy bars and uncompromising delivery from both sides made this a great battle.
If you like your battles more jocular, then Oshea vs. Kid Twist should whet your whistle. Both have an avuncular style (Oshea the too-drunk uncle cracking inappropriate jokes at the Christmas dinner table, Kid Twist the bookish older relative gazing wryly at a scene he helped to father), and each was at their best here. Comfortable, knockabout battle that the fans couldn’t get enough of.
Performance of the day: Gemini
A lot of the chatter in the smoking area revolved around the coronation of Raptor and Gemini as the heirs to Shotty Horroh and Tony D. Dialect has a flow like a tidal bore, but he was overpowered on pretty much every front by Gemini. Gemini not only did what Dialect does but better, flowing tightly-wrought and cuttingly relevant multis in an endless stream of switching flows, but continued to refine his own style.
His performance here emphatically put him ahead of Dialect (and neck-and-neck with Raptor) in the race to challenge Soul for the DF title, despite Dialect’s half-hearted call-out of the champ at the end of the battle. Of course, there’s the little matter of a clash against Charlie Clips for Gem to handle first.
Angle of the day: Shotty Horroh
Shotty Horroh vs. Charlie Clips had moments of brilliance on both sides, marred by a pointless fracas between the two emcees’ camps that left an irate crowd wishing they’d just rap and leave out the posturing.
That aside, Shotty in particular brought a high-octane, drill-sharp performance, and the crowd lapped up his Conor-McGregorian theatrics. His third round was a standout, taking apart SMACK/URL’s claims to be the originators of the modern a capella rap scene by listing elements of the culture originated by Lionz Den, Don’t Flop, Jumpoff, Grindtime, KOTD and the like. You may disagree with his point, but it was a beautifully-crafted angle, ending with the least stale of the weekend’s frequent references to Dizaster spitting in Eurgh’s face. In the end, he bowed out beautifully.
Upset of the day: Juan vs. Charron
Upset is perhaps too strong a word — it’s not that surprising that Charron came lighter for a bespectacled upstart from Oxford than he did for Charlie Clips, Pat Stay or John John Da Don. The Ottawa emcee had a lot of great material, and looked as comfortable as he’s ever done in front of a receptive crowd. But Juan did not waste his shot against the biggest name he’s faced yet, lacing together jokes, flips and intelligent angles in his best performance to date. His thoughtful angle accusing Charron of using the death of British emcee Depzman as a cheap gimmick to get reaction at 5BW was the clincher.
Disappointment of the day: Soul's third round choke
It almost feels cruel to mention this. Soul’s disappointment with his own performance was so palpable that even his opponent Caustic, a man who has made a profession of being a horrible heartless bastard, felt compelled to hug it out with him at the end of the day. Soul’s first was great, his second decent, his third a slow mumble into oblivion.
Afterwards he told us that he simply didn’t manage to get the material memorized, though we heard from other sources that his third was the best round he’d ever written. A real shame for the DF champion, though his capitulation should take nothing away from a lacerating performance by Caustic.
Bodybag of the day: DNA
DNA’s freestyle battle against Pedro was stratospherically mismatched. Pedro’s avant-garde mum jokes came up woefully short against a slick performance from DNA, who was better off the dome than he was in his written battle.
Battle of the day: Tony D vs. Chilla Jones
The pantomime mayhem of Uno Lavoz vs. Pedro aside, a refreshing majority of the battles this weekend were nothing more than two guys on stage rapping at one another really well. Tone vs. Chilla was a fitting culmination to the event: as you’d expect then Tony had slightly more varied rounds and loped round a stage that was clearly a second home to him, but Chilla’s wordplay was just that little bit more breath-taking. This is our pick for battle of the day because it was a battle in the purest sense.
Debatable of the day: Big T vs. Unanymous
I went to sleep last night thinking Unan won. When I woke up today I wasn’t so sure. If you break it down round-by-round then Unan probably took it 2-1, growing into his material throughout the battle. But fat jokes against Big T have been done better, and though he fell off a little, T’s first round was arguably the performance of the weekend. He’s a showman with a personality larger than his waistband, and he had the room rocking as he bounced around the stage.
Most slept-on performance of the day: Lu Cipher
Day 2 in general lacked the energy of Day 1. The energy was slightly lower, the crowd slightly thinner, the battlers slightly more hungover. The day’s first a capella battle (following a soundclash which the crowd struggled to get on board with) was between Shox The Rebel and Lu Cipher, a rising star uncovered by DF on their American travels. Shox had some nice stuff till he lost his material in the third, but though the crowd was enjoying Lu’s material it wasn’t getting the massive reaction it would have got later in the day. It speaks volumes about the quality of the card that this match was so low on it, but it’s definitely one to watch back.
Performance of the day: Tech 9
Impact didn’t stumble or lose the crowd, but he was comfortably outclassed in every round. Tech 9 is in the ascendant again, and where Impact’s impressions and punchlines fell a little flat for whatever reason, Tech delivered each line with utter conviction. He switched seamlessly from jokes to bars to gun-sounds (“When that tech clap… [gun sound]… sound like Mayweather hitting the speedbag" and made the stage his own in his U.K. debut.
Sarcastic cunt of the day: Deffinition
Def has been away from the DF stage for a minute, but it felt like he’d never left as he clowned on DNA through three polished, biting rounds. “You were saying you were going to… squeeze the tech?” he supplied innocuously, as DNA stumbled halfway through a scheme when a crowd member's comment threw him off.
Angle of the day: Uncle Jimmy
Oshea and Pedro’s essentially freestyled battle against Caustic and Pass was a knockabout free-for-all that stayed just the right side of nonsensical. A highlight was Caustic and Pass cooking up a searing exposé of Pedro’s pederast Uncle Jimmy, colliding with Oshea and Pedro’s onslaught of mum jokes in a perfect storm of absurdity.
Also Of Note
Multi of the weekend: Craft-D
Though he lost his enjoyable opening clash against Heretic in a 4-1 judges' decision, Craft-D came up with a relevant multi for the twenty-syllable Welsh place-name Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch. Fair play.
Flip of the weekend: Juan
Charron pocket-checks Juan. Juan: “Why you patting me down for cash? I thought autistic people hated change.”
Antic of the weekend: Uno Lavoz
Would you pay £60 to see Uno Lavoz bring out JR Slander dressed as Pedro’s mum before inviting Mac Sherry onstage to rip Pedro’s fake mum’s blouse? Nope, me neither, but there’s evidently an appetite for it. “This is weird,” Caustic said from his vantage point in the audience. He wasn’t wrong.
Moment of the weekend: Charlie Clips vs. Quill
We didn’t want to put this as “battle of the day,” because it was a little more than that. To make up for the cancellations of Head I.C.E and K-Shine, Don’t Flop flew out Cortez last minute for two decent one-rounders against Cee Major and Arkaic. (He lost both, but never mind.) And as an extra thank you to the fans, they put on a final one-round battle in the smoking area at the end of the second night.
Undaunted by the cancellation of his battle with K-Shine, Quill brought some seriously cold bars, and Clips’ freestyles were often hilarious. But the real joy of this battle was in the atmosphere — fans and battlers pressed together and passing round smokes as the two emcees went back and forth. Don’t Flop’s USP is the relaxed sense of community around the league, and this amicable clash was the perfect way to close out the weekend.
Were you there? What were your favorite moments? Were you not there and still have questions? Ask them in the comments section below.