Toronto's GZGP bracket was decided at "Checkmate" on May 31, with Aftershock taking the win over KP in a close battle. It was the best of the night at an event that packed Toronto's Tota Lounge and brought out familiar faces including Poison Pen, Skelly, Arcane, poRICH, Diaz and more.
Aftershock moves on to face Alberta division winner Rezza Reckt, who advanced in the tournament after Edwords stepped out for medical reasons. In California, Urban reportedly "cracked the code" to besting the seemingly unbeatable Carter Deems and will next take on Wildcard, who won the Vancouver bracket over Cander. The winners of those battles will meet in the finals.
Now on to our full recap of the Toronto event.
Battle Of The Night
KP vs. Aftershock
Going into this battle, everyone thought KP had the advantage over Aftershock in rapping ability. Shock's first round showed that wasn't the case. He brought an incredibly dynamic performance, keeping up with KP's rapid-fire flow and outwriting him with better angles and references.
Here's a taste from both:
I was one of five judges who gave the win to Aftershock, but the unanimous decision doesn't tell the story of how close the battle really was.
Check out his post-battle interview here:
Performance Of The Night
After the event, opinions about the night's best performance were split between Aftershock, Realiztic, Troy Brown and HFK, but HFK's throwback style of back-to-back offensive jokes seemed surprisingly fresh at a time when most battlers are concerned with making words sound like other words.
Is HFK's content dumb? Oh yeah, it's super dumb. Is it racist? You bet your ass it's racist. Is it entertaining? I laughed even as I shook my head in disapproval, as did most of the crowd.
After the battle he remarked: "People respond to racism way better when it's not about Jews," then said he was going to do a freestyle closer about how the venue was hotter than the Holocaust but decided against it.
Still, if you get offended by what you hear in a rap battle, maybe battle rap isn't for you.
Yung Casper vs. PH
For this main event, Casper wasn't landing much in his first two rounds, but he heated up enough in his third to take that round in most people's eyes. Both he and PH dropped a round because of chokes, though PH was able to recover better, slipping into freestyles before finding his footing with his writtens again.
Most of the crowd said PH did enough in his first two rounds to pick up the win.
Here's a clip from PH's second:
HFK vs. Zilla
If you knew what to expect from this battle already, it fully delivered. If you were unfamiliar with Zilla's KOTD legacy, it probably left you scratching your head wondering why everyone was laughing. Zilla has been a character in the Toronto scene since its earliest days, known for reacting at the wrong time during battles and for his unconventional approach to writing verses.
He clearly inspired HFK, who had more than enough to work with to stay direct for all three rounds.
Amzilla vs. Realiztic
Realiztic has been quietly putting on solid performance after solid performance in Toronto, but has yet to really breakthrough with fans online. His opponent Amzilla, a Team Homi member and Grind Time-era vet from New York, brought aggression, excellent cadence and flow throughout, as well as some solid personals but went off the rails with a third round that seemed to focus more on rhyming than on actually making sense.
There was a fair amount of tension in this one, with both emcees bringing in-your-face performances, but everything was fine afterwards. The crowd was split on who won, but pretty much everyone had it 2-1 either way.
Shotti P vs. Bulle
Detroit's Shotti P made his return to the GZ stage after his debut battle for the league with Scandalis in March. He brought the same consistency against local vet Bulle, tailoring his content for the KOTD crowd by incorporating references to Lush One and Avocado.
Bulle brought his usual back-to-back punchline style, landing some big ones and whiffing on others. This was one of the more debatable battles of the night; Shotti took it if you prefer overall consistency, and Bulle won if you focus on the heavy punches he landed.
Here's a clip from each of them:
Z Hunna vs. Troy Brown
This match-up had a ton of potential. Z Hunna has been a standout in Toronto's BeastMODE league for a while now and Troy Brown is a slept-on Grind Time-era vet who just put on a highly buzzed-about battle with Lu Cipher at Don't Flop Atlanta.
I had it as 1-1 after two rounds, but a nasty choke stopped Hunna in the third after only a few bars, giving Brown enough time to come up with a bodybag freestyle rebuttal to start his round: "It's fucked up you forgot your bars, but don't worry, later, we will too."
Brown was firing on all cylinders throughout, mixing comedy, lyricism, freestyles and also landing the biggest haymaker of the night about how Z pauses too long between his setups and punches: "What are you trying to be? King Of The Dot Dot Dot?"
Check out Troy Brown in action:
And this post-battle interview:
Also Of Note
-Three battles on the card didn't go down. Scandalis backed out against Mike P but was still in the building. GG vs. Crome and a PY battle were cancelled too.
And here are some more of our photos from the event:
Thoughts? Let us know in the comments below.