Don’t Flop’s "Checkpoint 3" produced a solid event involving some brilliant battles and several outstanding individual performances, most notably Soul’s successful title defense against Raptor. The diverse card at Ministry Of Sound in London had a blend of rap and punch-heavy battles, grime clashes and comedy. Read on for a summary of each battle on the card as well as some of the standout punchlines and moments.
Soul vs. Raptor
Raptor — Don’t Flop’s hottest prospect of 2015 — kicked off the battle bringing his expected aggressiveness and performance, hitting in the first with "I can end up behind bars much quicker than you can write them." While Raptor used some interesting angles, calling Soul out for being a bad champion and taking longer to progress than Raptor, he lacked the strength and number of punchlines to really make his points connect. His most effective angle was mocking Soul’s material for not being relatable or relevant, saying fans don’t want an "explanation of the martial law or a presentation of the Taj Mahal," then proceeding to mention the Caustic punch and asking why he’d "want to right/write like Soul."
Soul’s first round was not only the round of the event, but personally the best round I’ve ever seen live. His energy, performance, angles and intensity were phenomenal, and reinforced by inconceivably powerful punchlines. He began with a calm demeanor, calling out the fans for judging him on one bad performance, shaking the building by finishing the scheme with, "I forgot one round, you forgot 27."
Next came a series of hard-hitting bars that won him the crowd very early on, before introducing the effective angle about Raptor allegedly attacking his girlfriend and comparing him to a string vest for being a "see-through wife beater," and parodying two of Raptor’s most well-known bars: "Standing at the alter, going over her vows / And got a whole in her face before she even opened her mouth."
Perhaps the only criticism of Soul's round was his failure to clearly introduce the context of his wife-beater angle, yet Raptor strangely seemed to do this himself by using a flip that said he’ll "hit a bitch again," which seemingly confirmed Soul's allegations.
Raptor brought funny angles to his second round including calling out Soul for his Viewpoint 16 and doing an impression of his raps. He proceeded to break Soul down directly again, this time with angles such as Soul's reluctance to battle Tony D — "You didn’t have the balls to cross that line like a rugby try” — and his Caustic performance, which once again seemed to lack the necessary weight of punchlines despite the brilliant technique in his verse construction.
Soul began his second clowning Raptor for using the forced wordplay "U-N-I-verse," parodying his approach against Big Kannon before connecting with some space-related punchlines of his own ( "I'm the champ, out of this world, I don’t owe-Ryan’s-belt." He then produced an impressive rhyme scheme with a heavy punchline in almost every bar, before pre-empting a disgruntled reaction by Raptor of his pronunciation of "Schumacher" to incredible effect as he switched the rhyme scheme sending the crowd wild.
Raptor also took a comic approach to the start of his third, mocking how fans pretend to understand Soul’s bars: "I don’t know who’s a bigger dickhead, you for putting all that shit that goes in a scheme / Or you lot for pretending you know what he means." Despite having some amazing material, by this point Soul’s own rounds had diffused Raptor’s energy and numerous bars were consequently slept on, like "I’ll put an end to his reign on screen like window wipers." Raptor again had very considered angles yet the problem of his lack of punchlines in comparison to Soul persisted, eventually causing a choke at the end of his round.
Soul’s third began with calm, dead-pan humor again before erupting into another flurry of hard-hitters and claiming Shotty’s graveyard was a setup, "the one your crew dug for you." Soul’s bars were so efficient and precise and his angles continued to keep the crowd on side, "When you rap, they react, when I rap, the rappers do." Soul mocked Raptor for his loss against Sleepy G ("the DJ") saying he "can’t even beat the guy who produced the beat he’s rapping on."
A clear 3-0 to Soul, and a unanimous judging decision as Soul retained the Don’t Flop title. Raptor was by no means poor, his first two rounds being particular strong, but his loss here was all about Soul’s incredible performance, which no active Don’t Flop battler could have beaten on the day.
Bar of the battle
"Eurgh told me it’s a title match, I knew it’s you cause of the way he told me / He didn’t even name you homie, just sent me a snake emoji" – Soul
Tony D vs. Troy Brown
Tony D put on yet another tremendous display on the Ministry Of Sound stage in a classic back-and-forth, proving why he’s one of the heaviest punchers in battle rap with lines like "I’ve gotta go to war with Troy, like a Spartan Chief’s army siege." Tony put together a string of bars on the same rhyme scheme with the style, swagger and technical ability that makes him as tough an opponent as anyone, comparing his stature as a battler to Troy’s comparatively small status ("You got no rap alias, and still ain’t got no name"). Troy had a seemingly slow start yet swiftly gained momentum and proved himself as one of the most hard-hitting punchers in his own right, combining his natural humor with channelled aggression. "Nobody considers it raising the bar or heavy lifting for Tone to body Deffinition."
Tony started his second with a self-deprecating flip to Troy’s "your mama sucks dick" slogan by saying "No she don’t, that’s why my daddy left." He broke Troy down for never coming prepared to battles and once again directed his attention to Troy’s low status as a battler: "The kid’s name don’t register like you’ve been bunking school." Troy then started his next round with the quick-witted rebuttal, "No, your mother does suck dick that’s why your daddy left," before going in on Tony’s Real Deal performance where "We all saw the 16 make him choke like Katt Williams," continuing with some funny bars about Tony’s age.
Tony’s rounds were shorter than Troy’s but he still proved why he’s one of the most efficient writers in the league by making his punches count — "So I’m feeling like Eubank Jr. after this one / These punches land on black well, you came with Coma — you leaving in one." Tony choked in his third round, although he managed to bring it back and pull it off as coolly as anyone could in the situation. Troy’s third maintained the high level of his first two rounds, persisting with his blend of bars and jokes. "I go Tony D with the glock, I'ma 40 something." One of the most memorable moments of the day came in Troy’s third when he randomly sent for Eurgh and blew the roof down with "If I didn’t know any better I’d say this guy’s having a mid life … ISIS."
2-1 to Troy Brown. The first time Tony D has ever spat three rounds in any battle and lost. Troy’s rounds were a lot longer, and with even round lengths it may have been more debatable. Tony also stumbled in his third round, whereas Troy’s impressive debut on U.K. soil was a clean and comfortable performance.
Bar of the battle
"Your pen game – naughts and crosses – that’s just how it’s evolved / You get X’d out cause you never get your lines through three rounds in a row." – Tony D
Copywrite vs. Tenchoo
Copywrite’s debut as himself in the written era didn’t go quite as planned as, although showing potential signs of transitioning into a top battle emcee, he was comfortably beaten by the returning Don’t Flop legend. Tenchoo’s first round was fire, involving some smooth freestyling as well as the old-school appearance-based bars many fans hoped to see. "Copywrite – last name Joe, first name Cotton-eye / How the fuck is your nose thin, but your nostrils wide?" Tenchoo called out Copywrite for his disses to Asher Roth, persisted with jokes about Copywrite’s nostrils and had some hilarious punchlines too: "If you look up the left one you’ll eventually find diamonds / And if you look up the right one you’ll see Jefferson Price hiding."
Copywrite’s schemes, technique and multies were at an exceptional standard yet the majority of his material had no relevance to the battle or any application to Tenchoo. He ended two of his rounds with a strange audience participation concept, the purpose of which was unclear, and this seemed to kill any momentum he had in the battle. Copywrite’s best bars were by far his direct jokes about appearance, in particular Tenchoo looking like a horse: "When he’s not battling rhyming / For only a quarter your daughter can saddle and ride him."
Tenchoo’s second two rounds didn’t match up to his first but still comfortably won him the battle as he showed little sign of ring rust, including an impressive mid-round flip to Copywrite predicting the end of his sentence, and a series of solid jokes and punchlines: "I’m not knocking you for your holy beliefs / I’m knocking you cause you had a cavity search and they found rosary beads."
3-0 Tenchoo. Copywrite had some great schemes and technical raps but failed to engage with the crowd enough to challenge Tenchoo, while the DF veteran produced a more complete, comfortable and consistent performance.
Bar of the battle
"Oh he’s adlibbing my bars, you got a brilliant mind / You know what’s funny, that lyric was better than all your writtens combined / So well done bitch, you predicted my rhyme / With them nostrils you’ve always been good at finishing lines" – Tenchoo, with a mid-round flip
100 Bulletz vs. Unanymous
Bulletz’ first round was the best of the battle, and indeed one of the best of the event, beginning by jokingly stating that Unan 2.0 means "basically he lost some weight." Bulletz had a string of crazy rhyme schemes and consistent punchlines that got the crowd lively from the start. Some of the most memorable parts of the round included asking Unan to come to Disneyland and claiming that he cut him off "like, bruv, you had me at Diz," and remixing his own bar from his Shuffle-T battle at last year’s Checkpoint saying, "You get beat up, and keep coming back, like your girlfriend."
Unanymous continued his recent impressive form, similarly bringing a refreshing blend of humor and punchlines: "If he front like he buck 9's / Watch Bulletz get cut like I brought a knife to a gun fight." He effectively clowned on Bulletz’ battle rap obsession and its effect on his relationship, saying he’s got a baby mom but "looks like the type that ain’t hit it in months."
Bulletz had a strong second yet it fell flat in comparison, which was strange considering the strength of his material so it was perhaps out of his hands. This included another brilliant football scheme, his best one to date with perfect wordplay, no reaches and a direct narrative woven through it, yet the quietness of the crowd for this was a disappointment to say the least. Unan took a comic approach to his second including punchlines such as, "It looks like someone threw a punch at you and only your head ducked," as well as a funny impression of Raptor.
Unan maintained the same level while Bulletz’ momentum seemed to fade, resulting in a pretty bad choke, which diffused the strength of his bars and wordplay such as "Have Tom tuck-her in like Family Guy news." Bulletz’ microphone falling off during his impressive closing scheme was also an unfortunate incident out of his control. Unan’s third went in on Bulletz for reusing material, his immaturity for using a fake gun in a battle, and some other funny bars that secured him the final round comfortably: "Last time you seen white girl getting pressed is when Charron got slapped."
2-1 Unanymous. This was arguably a win for 100 Bulletz, taking the first two rounds, but Bulletz’ choke was far too significant while Unan had a clean and consistent performance. Off camera, Eurgh notably mentioned that Unan is the only person who’s had a title shot currently in contention for another one.
Bar of the battle
"This like FC Bayern at home, cause you just stepped into a lion’s arena [Allianz Arena]" – 100 Bulletz
The Calcium Kid vs. Big T
Calcium’s first round was his funniest, involving an array of typically absurd, off-topic bars he’s become renowned for: "I brought documented proof that I’m a proficient swimmer if that helps you pick a winner." Calcium brought some hilarious anti-gun bars too, saying "If you pull out a semi automatic I’ll pull a pen and autograph it," as well as some creative jokes about Big T’s weight: "When you got shot he was aiming about a yard – that way / If you had straps raised, you’d have back pains."
Big T’s first round was also entertaining and more direct than many may have anticipated, breaking down Calcium for having a simplistic and nonsensical style, as well as using some creative gun bars in typical Big Terrance fashion: "Give him the pump like he had bad breathing."
With Calcium lacking enough consistency in his material and Big T lacking his usual energy, the battle began to fade slightly. Big T used a lot of wordplay nowhere near as strong as his other Don’t Flop performances, while Calcium’s laugh-out-loud humor was too few and far between, though he did engage the crowd with lines such as "I don’t build sandcastles, I take them by force" and sheer ridiculousness: "I didn’t write three rounds for you, I wrote Tom Cruise a letter bomb / Entitled 'why can’t the characters in Tekken just get along?'"
Big T had a few nice bars ("Beam on his whole family, Honey I Shrunk The Kids") but never really got going, while Calcium’s final round faded out with a choke.
Very debatable battle, but I’d edge it 2-1 to The Calcium Kid on consistency and having more memorable lines, despite his stumble towards the end.
Bar of the battle
"That shirt has more X’s than a birthday card from my nan." – The Calcium Kid
Shox The Rebel vs. Coma
American emcee Coma began his U.K. debut with a parody of typical U.K. themed bars, before delivering a tidy mountain scheme finishing with "To summit up, this is where it gets peak for you," remixing Shox’s own slogan, and mocking Shox for not being a real criminal and having his PO in the crowd. Shox’s first round overpowered Coma’s intensity and his punchlines seemed better constructed: "One line will cut through your middle like symmetry / Or one sign will have you stomped out by a hundred feet in sects like a millipede." Shox’s angle about Coma paying his own money to go to the event was ultimately an effective one since Coma didn’t appear quite ready for the big stage.
In his second round Coma incorporated more comedy including a funny English accent, and, though not consistent enough, he had some effective bars to break Shox down: "Mrs. Shox, I know you wanted a bad dude but I got bad news, those aren’t stab wounds those are stretch marks." Shox’s second again overwhelmed Coma’s on both performance and writing as he brought some funny material ("Who the fuck convinced Steven Avery he could beef on stage with me") as well as a wealth of intelligent punchlines and wordplay — "You thought you wouldn’t take a loss to me [colostomy] and now you getting a bag for taking the piss."
Coma seemed to lose momentum in his third and became slightly repetitive, but he got the crowd on side when he jokingly became disgruntled at a lack of reaction and repeated the bar to which the crowd reacted massively. Coma had some personal angles about Shox as a father figure ("Selling weed on the corner instead of feeding your daughter") but the intensity was diffused with a funny ending about Shox’s wife marrying Oshea. Shox’s third was extremely relevant as he broke down Coma’s judgmental character and typical third-round personals, with a series of punches that applied to the battle such as his lack of crowd reaction ("You’re a coma, sleeping’s what they’re supposed to do").
Coma’s performance involved a few great lines but was far too inconsistent to match Shox, who admittedly also wasn’t at his best but took the battle comfortably with his higher energy and more intricate writing, in comparison to Coma who spat a lot of decent word associations without enough hard hitting punchlines. 3-0/2-1 Shox.
Bar of the battle
"Your life is Tetris, all the talk about controlling blocks would be your downfall, you’re just playing games / See you rap about flipping bricks to fit in with these squares only to find your place in line and fade away." – Coma
Dialect vs Bilzar
This was arguably the best grime clash the Don’t Flop stage has ever seen, with two incredible emcees producing an entertaining back and forth, typifying the diversity and depth of a Don’t Flop card. Bilzar and Dialect had sent numerous disses at each other for a few months so the clash was highly anticipated. The lapel microphones were definitely a bonus as this allowed the emcees to perform as well as deliver their material, not to mention emcees in grime clashes often struggle to hold a microphone properly.
Dialect was getting reloads mostly off flow alone, showing off his incredible technique as arguably the most talented technical rapper in the league, whereas Bilzar was largely using punchlines to generate crowd reaction. Dialect’s first round had three reloads, the most in any round of the battle, which included some very direct angles too, and he got a huge reaction during his third verse, with "White boy get off the stage, you ain’t Eminem." Bilzar had a lot more comic material including a funny impression of Dialect and some jokes about his girlfriend: "I met her at the bar, was stuck between spudding her, hugging her, I didn’t know which one to do."
In terms of reloads, Bilzar got eight in total in comparison to Dialect’s seven, but certain reactions that could have got a wheel up didn’t so it doesn’t seem an accurate way to quantify the win. Both emcees were incredible, but in terms of rapping ability and diversity of flows and content Dialect edged the win.
Bar of the battle
"You might see him at Eskimo Dance, that’s if I get that dude on my guest list." – Dialect
Dialect & Double L vs. Izzie Gibbs and Villain
This was another highly entertaining grime clash with an amazing crowd throughout. The approaches from the four emcees were refreshingly different with Izzie Gibbs and Villain going for aggressive delivery and hyperactive energy to accumulate reloads, Dialect focusing more on flows and punchlines, and Double L getting several reloads through jokes despite having the more basic flow of the four. The audio could have been slightly better as the microphones seemed to cut out at times, and the beat and vocals weren’t leveled properly, but it was still a great clash, though it could have done with being a few verses shorter.
Dialect had his second great performance of the day, beginning with an explosive first round gassing the crowd up and earning reloads — "Don’t come in my face and chat shit, I’m a big man like Hagrid." Double L had a highly entertaining performance and got the most reloads (three) in a single round, which included saying Villain has "lips like Sylvester Stallone" and calling Izzie "a dickhead emcee starter pack."
I’d edge the battle to Dialect and Double L, despite getting eight reloads in comparison to Izzie Gibbs and Villain’s total of 10. Dialect and Double L seemed to have more control and composure as well as preferable material. Izzie Gibbs was the best for hyping the crowd yet seemed to be slightly off beat at times.
The turning point of the battle was Villain telling Dialect he looks like a "black old-school Britney Spears." If you have to change both somebody’s gender and race, then the lookalike bar probably doesn’t work. Villain may find himself on Bad Bars for that one, and I’d edge the battle to Dialect and Double L for that reason.
Bar of the battle
"Don’t come in my face and chat shit, I’m a big man like Hagrid." – Dialect
Villun vs. Briggzy
This clash was one of two outdoor battles on the day, with a slightly more awkward atmosphere that still produced two great clashes nevertheless. Villun brought a number of direct angles about Briggzy including his career being a farce and calling him a sideman for his work with Don’t Flop and being Raptor’s manager. Villun delivered some brilliant rhyme schemes and punchlines, well-structured and consistent as usual: "You man are chasing the throne but it’s crazy cause crow helps me see times changing like the three-eyed raven." Briggzy’s performance was more energetic and aggressive than Villun’s throughout despite his slight stumble in the first, calling out Villun for being a lazy rapper and not battling enough.
Villun’s second proceeded with the "sideman" angle and used more comedy to make this point, describing his servant-like status to the rest of the staff. Briggzy also used a funny approach joking about his role on the Don’t Flop staff, comically criticizing Eurgh for setting up Rob Wilson vs. Big T and producing some general criticisms of the roster, as well as joking about Villun’s friendship with Olde English and his physical appearance.
Villun’s third broke down Briggzy’s use of gun bars and his lack of understanding of the London setting he spits them in: "You’re not certified cause you spent seven years writing Raptor some prison letters." Briggzy then used a more bar-heavy approach again and went in on the Albino angle further: "Out there they grind Albino bones for Paracetamol."
This was a really close and well-contested battle, and difficult to pick a winner. Briggzy added more punchlines to his formerly rap-heavy approach to battling, in what was arguably his best performance to date, yet Villun had more intricate writing and structured his angles better which, to my mind, edged the battle in his favor.
Bar of the battle
"You’re a Don’t Flop intern, what more do I say / At some point Eurgh’s gonna tell you to go get him water today." – Villun
Frankie Phraser vs. JShort
Frankie came out swinging in the first round of a battle that proved to be his best performance to date, his rhyming ability showcasing why he’s one of the best writers in the league. He had some notably strong punchlines and seems to be adding more strings to his bow in each battle. JShort also brought his best ever display, which made for an entertaining back and forth, starting with one of his signature freestyle rebuttals ("Where I’m from there’s a stanley in every picture like a Marvel flick") and proceeding with direct angles such as Frankie gaining relevance through ghost-writing and some hilarious bars about his multisyllabic rhyming obsession, setting the scene of him ordering a takeaway for Lytwork using multies: "Can I have salsa tortilla chips, samosa and chili dips…"
Frankie’s second was his best of the battle, breaking down J’s reliance on freestyling, mocking him for his online pictures that invariably feature him sticking his tongue out, and his Americanized accent he referred to as "J-Shortotune" emphasized by some great punchlines: "Your accent didn’t change till you reached 20 [Twente] like Steve McLaren."
JShort responded with some good wordplay of his own ("I’m scalping Spears like Britney’s breakdown"), describing how nobody notices him since he’s a parody of Soul’s style. "My Top 5 looking like Donnie Darko, I’m the only one that saw Frank." Frankie’s third was great but a lot of his material wasn’t direct enough, whereas JShort’s punches were harder hitting — "This is Rio De Janeiro, I look down on poorer structures like Christ the Redeemer."
This was another very close battle, and a refreshing step up from both emcee’s who will undoubtedly be ones to watch this year, but JShort’s punchlines were just that bit heavier and his performance overpowered Frankie, particularly in the outdoor environment, which certainly worked in his favor. A very close 3-0/2-1 to JShort.
Bar of the battle
"I wanted Cojay – Eurgh, let me kill the prick and I will give you Frankie’s body as dividends / Cause you’re getting the work over the black guy like it’s white privilege" – JShort
Overall, Checkpoint 3 lived up to its hype and reputation as one of the biggest battle rap cards of the year, producing some amazing and memorable battles. Don’t Flop definitely seems to be going for quality over quantity this year and the selectiveness of battles is paying off with classic performances.
Buy the battles individually or as an on-demand package here.
Thoughts? Let us know in the comments below.