The eyes of battle rap turned towards Vancouver this past Saturday (May 23) for what was supposed to be the biggest match-up the city had ever seen, with a dope undercard full of fresh up-and-comers. Unfortunately, as you've likely heard by now, Math Hoffa didn't make it through customs to participate in the main event against Thesaurus. However, despite the setback, a sizable crowd (including yours truly) was in the audience for what turned out to be an incredible event showcasing the future of GZ and Vancouver battle rap. Here's a rundown of what happened at the event, which you can watch on demand for free here.
All photos by Iris Chia for KOTD. See the full set here.
Fans Love Variety
Look, I love bars as much as the next guy, but the sheer amount of PG starter kit battlers has been frustrating to a lot of battle fans. While that approach can be dope and we like it in Vancity, this event showcased an eclectic mix of styles from beginning to end. From the stacked, bar-heavy approach of Dennis Good and Wildcard, to the savage imagery of Cander, to old-man antics from Copasetic, and plenty more, the evening showcased a diversity that has been sorely lacking recently. Only Lil G vs. Bizzy Mind could start with dick jokes and end with a political rant from Bizzy against the government's invasions of privacy.
The Headliner That Could Only Happen In Vancouver
Once Math Hoffa vs. The Saurus was cancelled, most people resigned themselves to not seeing either of the legends perform. But lo and behold, the hero of Vancity, Funeral Nick, rose to the occasion, paying The Saurus what can only be described as an awkwardly large sum of money for the chance to freestyle over a beat.
The match-up was hilarious, with a new slogan coming out of it: “Fuck you for not doing this for the love price.” The Saurus showed his experience to the crowd, coming up with crazy punchlines like: “I was supposed to battle Math, now I feel like a special ed class.”
The Rise Of New Talent
While not brand new to battling, both Dennis Good and The Ginger Bred Man had incredible breakout performances. Dennis Good made his KOTD debut after several battles with AHAT and Alliance Battle League, opening the broadcast in a hard-fought battle against Blasphem-E (hey, that’s me!).
Unfortunately, Ginger Bred’s battle was not on the PPV, so there hasn’t been a lot of hype about his performance yet, but look for him to make some serious moves this next year. While not considered new anymore, Copasetic showed up with an incredible gimmick: dressed and made-up like an old man, doing a lot of “when I was a kid we had…” sort of bars that had the crowd in stitches.
Battles Of The Night
There are a few contenders for this honor. Hell, I’ve seen four separate battles named by different people: Copasetic vs Illipsis, Wildcard vs Cander, Ape Yola vs Lexx Luthor, and Blasphem-E vs Dennis Good, but I think it comes down to a style preference.
Copasetic vs. Illipsis
This battle was hilarious from start to finish. Illipsis played up the nerd angle the whole time, displaying a vivid vocabulary that went unmatched for the rest of the night. Meanwhile, Cope’s old man persona brought down the house. Illipsis had a great flip for this, saying “Sparka, I think I need a new opponent, also, I got a gun so old, I think he used to own it.”
Both of these guys gave their best performance to date, and they got the most love from the audience. Truthfully, there is no good way to judge a battle like this, but Copasetic demanded it be judged “in order to lose” and maintain his perfect record of losses.
Wildcard vs. Cander
This was a bar-heavy match-up that also showcased the best that these guys had to offer. Wildcard obviously has been listening to the criticisms about him talking about shooting people, and took that into account for his rounds: “Oh but that line will have Wildcard going back to his imaginary gun store/ I got 8 inches and 100 pounds (on you) what the fuck do I need imaginary guns for?” It was a simple punchline that stood out among the three rounds of complex wordplay.
Cander came back and addressed the Stevie P battle, which a lot of people were saying he shouldn’t have won. He opened with imagery about catapults and showed that he can do wordplay too, with a scheme rearranging Wildcard’s government name (Levi). But Wildcard was just too strong for him, taking the first two rounds cleanly before surrendering the third. In the end, Wildcard won and advanced to the next level of the GZGP tournament in California.
Lexx Luthor vs. Ape Yola
After a mediocre showing at "Quarantine 2" against J-Pro, Ape Yola returned to form in this battle, bringing the aggression and charisma that made him one of Vancity's elite battlers. He started off by addressing his previous performance, then went more humorous in his second, talking about how great he can be when only telling his opponent to eat a dick, before delivering "hey, muffin top, one o’clock, suck a cock."
Even in the face of all this, Lexx had a great performance. He was firing from the first bar, and while the crowd seemed to not mess with his second as much as his other rounds, he gained so much momentum in the third with a series of bars about the time Ape Yola caught a bottle to the face. Both dudes had great performances, and the winner will come down to stylistic preference.
Andre Anthem vs. Pay Day
The most gully battle of the night, this battle may have suffered from having to follow Copasetic vs. Illipsis. The sharp change of pace from outrageous humor to a much more street style may have stunned the audience somewhat.
The narrative that developed in the battle was the Drug Dealer (Andre) versus the Customer (Pay Day). This dynamic was made more believable because Pay Day spat bars at a mile a minute, incorporating freestyles with writtens in such an energetic way it could be used for a Red Bull commercial. While this is probably theatre it was made more believable when Andre described Pay Day as a fiend saying that he would know because he “sells cocaine for a living.” Andre seemed more affected then Pay Day by the lowered energy of the crowd and ultimately lost the judges' decision.
Lil G vs. Bizzy Mind
Let’s be honest here. You can’t beat Lil G in Vancouver. It’s impossible. He’s a living legend who has fucked everybody’s lady. Yes, even yours. But Bizzy gave it a valiant effort, trying to use Lil G as a microcosm for the Vancouver scene and latent homophobia in battle rap. That angle seemed to fall flat, but he did have some solid bars mixed in.
Since he believed the battle to be promo, Bizzy talked about Bill C-51 (a controversial piece of Canadian anti-terror legislation that gives spy agencies unprecedented power) in his third round, in what turned out to be a polarizing decision. Some fans loved it, some hated it. Lil G did what he does — three rounds of jokes about his cock size and how many girls he fucked. It doesn’t sound all that entertaining, but he’s the best at making those jokes, and you can’t comment on Lil G until you’ve seen the Lil G experience live. Ultimately, the judges gave the battle to the G.
Blasphem-E vs. Dennis Good
I’m awesome. So is Dennis. Okay, maybe I shouldn’t break down my own battle, so I’m going to get Vancity’s Chief Compliance Officer (by which I mean he will whoop your ass if you don’t comply with what he tells you), Willie B to talk about this battle:
This battle was everything I hoped for. I knew Dennis intended to make a statement with his KOTD debut, and he certainly did. Bringing his distinctly American style, he is one of the most consistent battlers I have seen perform live. Bar after bar expertly rapped, and a performance that included Big T style gun sound effects, and Olympiac style man posing.
Blasphem-E, better known as Red Shirt Mike, has had his performance improving steadily with a mixture of relaxed comedic delivery, and more aggressive bars. While he used to seem awkward in the ring (the pot says to the kettle) he now seems much more comfortable.
While Dennis was consistent, Blasphem-E started slow and built momentum. This momentum peaked at the end of the second round with a scheme where each bar ended with a play on 3:45. This was the pinnable of the battle as far as crowd reaction, as he kept flipping the bar and doing line after line. This scheme won him the second round, but Dennis won the first and third with an intensity that never ebbed.
Several people congratulated me for “discovering” this talented new emcee Dennis Good.
Jobes vs. The Ginger Bred Man
As stated earlier, The Ginger Bred Man had a breakout performance. It’s rare you see a PY battle that impresses everyone, even the veterans in the room, but TGBM’s bars had the crowd following along with screwfaces, laughter, and amazement as he linked wordplay punchlines together effortlessly. Jobes had a massive choke in the first round and he never really recovered.
Major shout outs to Willie B, La Sparka, and the Vancouver team, as well as Sketch Menace for cohosting the event.
Were you there? Let us know what we missed in the comments below.