KOTD's first event at The Bunker (Los Angeles' new by-battle-rap, for-battle-rap venue) was a success, but not for the reasons advertised. The Bunker's concept promised a departure from the extreme heat, long delays and uncontrollable noise that usually plague battle events, and though those issues were still mostly present, the vibe of the day was positive and the battles all delivered.
We spoke to J-Pro and Avocado (the guys behind the event and the new venue) about their thoughts on how things went and what we can expect from them next. Watch that interview here and read on for what went down in the battles.
Pnut vs. J Dose
Featuring a ton of energy and two surprisingly different approaches, this was a solid battle to kick things off at The Bunker. Like damn near every battle on the card, it was extremely close and will ultimately come down to preference.
Pnut and Dose complement each other's strengths pretty drastically, and this clash made it clear. Pnut's material, though calmly delivered, was dense and riddled with complex punches, while Dose made use of more direct wordplay (some of it admittedly a bit shopworn) and snapped all three rounds with a vintage performance.
Things got awkward when Dose, perhaps indulging his Philly instinct to start rapping as soon as the other guy pauses, cut Pnut off early in Round 1 and caused him to momentarily lose his place. That was the only hiccup though, and this will probably come down to Round 2.
It's been a year since Pnut last performed on KOTD and, given that Dose might be looking for a new league to call home, this clash will serve them both well.
Watch both emcees recap the battle here.
Carter Deems vs. Head I.C.E
To the delight of many and the confusion of maybe even more, Carter Deems vs. Head I.C.E hit just the right note. Even if you think you know both Carter and I.C.E's styles — and if you do, you probably knew this would be fire — the lines blurred even more than expected with I.C.E dropping some bizarre gems and Carter being a lot meaner than usual (but still really nice).
Don't get it twisted; this was not simply an "isn't it funny that we put these two against each other?" type of match-up, and the mutual respect was obvious. As such, the back-and-forth was hugely entertaining from beginning to end, with the only bump being noise from nearby power tools, which threw I.C.E off in Round 2 but elicited a nice rebuttal from Carter.
There are few accolades in battle rap more meaningful than Head I.C.E nodding along to your bars, and Carter is in a good spot on KOTD no matter how you slice it. Like, how does one clearly beat this guy? As for I.C.E, his string of strong performances on KOTD could easily put him in #1 contender talks, and his Round 1 Rone call-out here is certainly noteworthy.
The Saurus vs. Daylyt
For whatever reason, it seemed pretty clear directly before this battle that Daylyt was there to rap. That certainly turned out to be the case, and he arguably earned Performance Of The Night in an absolute bar-fest with The Saurus. Aside from Loe Pesci-ing himself as an apology for his use of antics, it was all business.
Being overshadowed despite cooking in two KOTD battles in a row is not a terrible fate for Saurus, but this was actually much closer than the Fresco battle. Saurus' performance was clean as usual, full of "Day" flips that still managed to be hugely creative, and it packed a ton of substance — both humorous and genuine — into a short time. Day managed to pull away in Round 3 though, starting off with a hard-hitting racial angle that avoided most of the obvious cheap shots and ending with a haymaker. This time it was "Shoot his granddaddy's granddad ... Two fives on the side of his face, na nanny na na!" It landed huge with the live crowd but quickly started eliciting comparisons to a Craig Lamar bar online. Even if you want to take away points for that, it would be tough to discount the entire performance, which felt like somewhat of a return for Day (this was his first battle since O-Red in November).
Caustic vs. T-Rex
Let's get this out of the way: yes, Rex was fully prepared and no, Caustic did not reveal a life-ruining angle in Round 3. This was just a good old-fashioned style clash, and every round was debatable. We got pretty much exactly what you'd expect from both Caustic and Rex, but it worked together surprisingly well to form a sometimes-intense, all-around fun battle.
"Caustic? This is how it finally ends?" Caustic asked Rex, drawing laughter from all sides but also raising a very real question. It's no secret that Rex has fallen from many fans' favor and, despite his legacy, many even seemed ready to say "good riddance" when the Harlem legend floated the idea of retirement. Naturally, after teasing this as his last battle, Rex performed in a way that'll make you hope that's not really the case.
Caustic tends to bring the best out of his opponents, and this is yet another example of a debatable but highly replayable clash. Is it #1 contender material? Maybe not, but you can never tell just how quickly the tides will turn in battle rap.
Thoughts? Let us know in the comments below.