When the lineup for KOTD's "World Domination 6" was announced, the consensus seemed to be that it was a decent event, with many lower-key match-ups more focused on creating a quality final product than building a ton of hype. And that's pretty much how things played out. That said, there were several strong showings and some breakout performances over the weekend, and we've highlighted them below.
Battle Of The Night: Pnut vs. Shotti P
When PNut and Shotti P was announced, several people thought that it had show-stealing potential, and boy, were they right.
For Shotti P, this was another big step forward. His battle with Xcel at "Massacre 2" was eye-opening for a lot of people, but to put on a battle of this caliber, at an event of this magnitude, against an opponent this well-respected ... that’s something that will skyrocket his stock in the KOTD realm.
For Pnut, his Toronto debut was just another day at the office. For some, this performance may have surpassed expectations, but most people reading this would've known to predict a strong showing from him. It seems it’s been forever since he had a weak performance — the man just delivers battle after battle.
This battle featured a seasoned veteran against an up-and-comer, but both guys have the hunger of up-and-comers, but the poise of seasoned vets. Pnut's rapid-fire delivery was on display as usual, and Shotti was pretty much the exact opposite, taking a more deliberate approach. With Shotti surrendering so much in terms of quantity, he had to make sure that he came with quality material. This was no problem for him, delivering material that was hard-hitting, but still funny and entertaining.
Pnut did what Pnut always does: he rapped very well and delivered clever and incisive material. No matter how you call this battle, it'll likely be one you revisit once it drops on YouTube.
Performance Of The Night: Arsonal Da Rebel (vs. Cortez)
Pretty much everybody agreed that Arsonal had the round of the night with his first round to Cortez, but his overall performance stood above any other as well. This was vintage Arsonal: loud, uncensored, and incredibly disrespectful.
The first round was without question his strongest of the battle, but it’s not like the others were weak. His second found a way to surpass the disrespect of his first, in particular an angle about Cortez (allegedly) having an unborn child aborted when he found out that it would have Down syndrome. Ars, always willing to out in effort to dance all over the lines of good taste, without question accomplished it here.
Cortez performed well, but couldn’t match the energy that Ars brought to the room, even though he turned up after the first. Tez has been having a fantastic year, and everyone takes a loss once in a while, so he can take solace in knowing pretty much anybody was going to lose to that version of Arsonal.
With Ars talking about retiring within the next year, this could have been his last battle in Toronto, and if it was, what a final impression to leave.
Newcomer Of The Night: Dunn D
Being the first battle on an event the scale of World Domination is a tough task for anyone, let alone someone who just flew halfway across the world to battle in a league that they’ve never appeared on before. Dunn D did exactly that against Realiztic, and the outcome was him having one of the most memorable performances of the weekend.
It has been said before that comedic battles are excellent ones to start the card, because it gets the crowd warmed up, and doesn’t burn them out too quickly with dense wordplay. That makes Dunn D a perfect choice for that spot on the card, and it really showed here.
His style in the battle was simple. Some may view that as a bad thing, but the approach he took was effective. He came off as funny, charismatic and likable. Where some battlers would sell their performance, he sold himself. Because of the obvious issues with Australia’s proximity to North America, it’s pretty unlikely that Dunn could be a KOTD regular, but he delivered a performance that pretty much locked in his spot at next year's event.
One of the big draws of World Domination was the final battle of the weekend, a KOTD title match pitting challenger Caustic against champion Rone.
Caustic’s first round was his most focused and prepared material in some time. His performance was clean and his actual rapping was top notch. In what felt like it was bound to happen, Caustic flipped Rone’s “outwhite you” angle from their first battle in a pretty entertaining way.
Rone’s first was typical Rone stuff with a couple of very small slipups. What got the most attention though was him replicating Caustic’s vicious approach with a couple of bars ending with “if I was you I’d blame you for Cadalack Ron’s death.”
Caustic’s second rehashed the Sandusky angle, which had some clever lines. Rone too tended to take a lighter approach, clowning Caustic for being racially confused, and being a cable guy for Comcast. A very close round, and probably the decisive round. Whoever you had winning this is in all likelihood, the person you had taking the battle.
Both of their thirds were on the exact same topic, with both accusing the other of being a recipient of ghostwritten bars. Caustic must've seen the angle coming, and minutes before the battle Rone telegraphed his approach even more by putting up an Instagram post showing what seems to be Caustic asking for bars from Fresco.
This seems relevant to what's coming in the title match. pic.twitter.com/uinXJzoYPR— BattleRapDotCom (@battlerapdotcom) August 28, 2016
Because of this, there was no surprise that it was going to be a major angle of attack for Rone.
It’s not worth going into the debate about ghostwriting here. Everyone is going to have their own opinions, and ultimately what matters most isn’t solely the angle that’s used, but how well it’s executed. Given that both used their thirds to address ghostwriting, Rone probably did better with the angle, as Caustic's came off more as an attempt to diffuse Rone’s approach more than trying to attack Rone. His approach may have been solid defense, but it did little offensively.
Despite the judges giving Rone the battle unanimously, this was still one of the closest KOTD title matches, with both guys having strong moments. Our poll on Twitter had a small majority agreeing with the decision, but obviously, it was debatable.
Happy with the decision?— BattleRapDotCom (@battlerapdotcom) August 28, 2016
Battle Of The Night: Big T vs. Head I.C.E
Only a few years ago, this match-up would be completely out of place at a KOTD event, but it speaks to the continued evolution of the league that it took place on their stage, and it not only wasn’t out of place ... it was the best battle of the night.
T’s first was solid, but with very minimal crowd reaction. This will likely be a round that ends up looking better on camera. It was a wordplay-heavy round spit to a crowd that was reacting mostly to straight-forward material.
I.C.E came out swinging in the first, coming right at T, and truly showed all elements of battle rap. He joked about T’s weight, displayed some of his characteristic wordplay and spit some of that gritty street shit that we’ve come to expect from I.C.E.
T’s second seemed to finally get the crowd to react a bit more to him. He did a couple of his gun sounds, which pretty much always get over well with live crowds, and his “3 little pigs” punchline was probably his best to that point in the battle. T ended his round with a “Sophie’s Choice” type scenario that was possibly some of his hardest shit he’s spit on the KOTD stage.
I.C.E started off his second by flipping T’s gun sounds for a hard punchline. A couple more good bars, but seemed to cut his round short.
T’s third round started by clowning I.C.E for the fact that nobody knows what he’s talking about when he raps. Pretty cool angle, especially considering the majority of the crowd had probably just been cheering for bars from I.C.E they didn’t quite understand. When he decided to pick up the aggression the round went from great to greater. Really fantastic round, and reminiscent of Big T at his best.
I.C.E’s third was strong, but after T’s third it seemed to fall a bit short. His round started with some real solid scheming about URL, but honestly, it seemed most of the references were lost on the crowd. A more seasoned fanbase probably would have understood those lines more, and reacted heavier, since there was some good shit in there.
Overall a great battle that could be seen as a win for both emcees, the fans and KOTD.
Performance Of The Night/Bodybag Of The Night: The Saurus (vs. Tumi)
If you don’t come at your absolute best against The Saurus, you will likely lose … badly. One of the most consistent in all of battle rap, Saurus almost never has a poor performance, and this was more of the same. Like always, he delivered a stellar performance, and if South Africa representative Tumi could match his efforts we could be talking about this for Battle Of The Night.
Unfortunately, it wasn't meant to be, as Tumi appeared to not have quite the handle on his material that he would need to be able to compete. When he did get his stuff off, it wasn’t hitting like you have to assume he hoped it would, and in his third, he called time on himself, ostensibly throwing in the towel on the performance.
After having a string of strong, yet debatable battles, it has to feel nice for The Saurus to take a clear win on the KOTD stage, although given how much respect he showed for Tumi ahead of the battle, it's likely that he would've preferred to have a classic. Given that so many battles on Day 2 were debatable, taking a clear win helps Saurus stand above everyone else.
Battle Of The Night: Franchise vs. A. Ward
If you didn't see this, or hear anything about it, you may see it here as the best battle of Day 3, and think that the best battle on a GZ day doesn't mean as much. This battle could have easily been the best of the entire weekend. Both raised their stock considerably and performed extremely well.
From the introductions, it seemed that Kansas City's A. Ward was going to have an uphill battle on his hands with the crowd who seemed far more familiar with his hometown opponent than they were with him. It didn’t take him long to win them over, as his wordplay and aggressive style had the fans reacting to him from almost his first bar. It’s interesting how in-your-face and aggressive his style can be despite the fact he never swears.
The first round may be the best delivered of Franchise’s career to this point. In some previous battles he seemed more laid back, and that the aggression wasn’t quite there. Nobody could accuse him of that in this one.
From his first bar, he channeled his inner Shotgun Suge and went at Ward’s throat, hyper-animated, whipping the crowd into a frenzy. His “what his life like” segment in particular was a highlight. He seemed like he was out to prove something, and early on he looked like he could hang with anyone on the roster. Very impressive first for the Toronto native.
A. Ward’s second was scheme-heavy, including a "Massacre-push his cap back-landslide" scheme that most in the crowd didn’t get was referencing Calicoe. Ward’s writing is cool because there are lots of different small schemes within schemes that you may catch back on the third or fourth watch.
Franchise scaled his aggression back a little bit in his second, but the bars were still at the level they were in the first. Both first and second were razor close. Personally, I’d lean towards Franchise in the first and Ward in the second, but I could see arguments for every other option.
As was the story of the battle, the third round from both was incredibly close, with both continuing at the pace that they'd set in the first two rounds. Ultimately, it was a preference battle with A. Ward’s scheme-heavy style vs. the aggressive, punch-heavy approach used by Franchise. Both executed their style incredibly well, and whichever style you prefer is likely going to dictate who you think took this. Both did so well though, that no matter who you feel won, it's very likely that you would feel his opponent killed it too.
BattleRap.com's photos by Christian Andrabado.
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