Isn’t it nice when a huge battle fully lives up to expectations?
We all felt entitled to an incredible rematch on KOTD after Battle of the Brave (a league we’ll likely never see again) converted Hollow Da Don vs. Pat Stay to a one-rounder at the last second, and that’s exactly what we got. This battle has everything: aggression, personal attacks, deeply meaningful angles, jokes, animated performance, freestyles, and most importantly, an extremely high level of competition. But get those pitchforks ready, because I think this is a closer battle than many are acknowledging at the moment.
Hollow went first, and it was instantly clear just how hard it was going to be to beat him. Starting off by asking Pat how he managed to get “3-0’d in a one-round battle” was an ingenious way to set the tone, as if to say, “I beat you badly already, so why the fuck are we here?” Staying consistent with the “you’re not tough” angle was another smart move, and the crowd predictably loved watching Hollow (briefly) seek out Pat’s boys to “see what his man will do,” in obvious reference to Pat’s entourage getting worked up during his Calicoe battle. (Pat really only had Quake Matthews in his corner this time, and Hollow actually ended up getting in the face of Peter, the guy who was running KOTD's Instagram feed for the event, but details, details, the bar still hit.)
And leave it to Hollow to say something as goofy as “get in that ass, that’s colon,” only to completely justify it with an electric haymaker.
Hollow was really in his “performance” bag this battle, particularly in Round 1. Pat, known for delivering explosive first rounds and damn near never losing them, lost Round 1 by a wide margin. Don’t get me wrong — his first was great, but you know that phrase “not enough?” Yeah, not enough.
Sure, it’s funny that Hollow has had the same facial hair for a long time, but is it worth opening with that angle and spending so much time on it against the best battle rapper in the world? Still, Pat’s aggression was on point, and some clever writing kept Round 1 from being a thorough ass-whooping. “You can’t spell ‘clean’ without the lean — we can C it’s a front.” Nice. But still Hollow 1-0, clear as day.
Hollow has an amazing willingness to take risks in battle rap. You’ve probably heard that he never fully structures his rounds, opting instead to go in and out of different "bags" depending on what’s hitting at the time, for example. He started Round 2 with a wildly ambitious rebuttal, rhyming “breaking bad,” “baby bash,” “play my ‘stache,” “Jada laugh,” and “Stacey Dash,” all in a row. It certainly could've been prepared material, since Pat also clowned Hollow's facial hair in the trailer for the battle, but still, Hollow having that content in the clip just in case it came up again is almost as impressive as him dropping it spontaneously. It’s moments like this that make you think, “Hmm, there can’t possibly be too many other people in this culture capable of that.”
Here’s where this review might piss you off, though. This was another strong round from Hollow, featuring a nice angle on Pat’s “bitten” material, but it wasn’t anywhere near as heavy as Round 1. Also, he did a fake-out ending that didn’t really hit and arguably made his Round 2 worse. Hollow’s second, though fire, was looking beatable.
It probably was pure luck, but it worked out well for Pat that his Round 2 touched on Hollow's worst lines quite a bit, and it made much of his round seem like a direct response to Hollow's. Only someone like Pat (or maybe like, Carter Deems) would attack someone for not knowing enough about peanut butter, but he pulled it off (check Hollow vs. Okwerdz for a very regrettable “chunky peanut butter” bar).
There was nothing earth-shattering about Pat's second round, but he rattled off multies like "get hit in the jaw, your chin'll just fall like ventriloquist dolls" with finesse and had plenty of quotables. After a fairly hard-hitting angle about Hollow's hypocritical treatment of women, Pat made what amounted to a critical mistake by stumbling at the very end of his round. It would be more dramatic to call it 1-1 at this point, but 2-0 Hollow. Still, Round 2 was CLOSE and may have gone to Pat without the stumble.
In my oh-so-controversial opinion, Round 3 was not particularly close and decisively went to Pat. Of course, Hollow still had hugely entertaining material, and he was wise to separate himself from Pat in terms of writing (he outdid Pat lyrically by leaps and bounds this round, beginning by saying, “Let me walk you through my writing process”). "Interviewing" Pat, complete with a separate cameraman and all, toward the end was creative too, but not especially meaningful. Truth be told, Pat’s third is much more memorable. Despite a couple MORE small slips, which could render this Hollow 3-0 for some fans, Pat’s Round 3 angle was lethal.
Remember how successful Hollow was at demonizing Lux for his high prices and self-important attitude? Pat flipped the script on Hollow and made him look just as rotten: “What good is loyalty over money if your loyalty’s overpriced?” The third definitely made Hollow bleed, and it’s the best angle anyone’s taken on him in recent memory. Don't get me wrong; Hollow spit some real stuff too, focusing much of his round around a highly political "jail" rebuttal, but he may have reached into one too many bags in Round 3 for it all to really gel.
In the age of events every other weekend and more rising talent than you can keep track of, it’s important to recognize when the dudes who are supposed to be the best at this shit truly deliver.
In the eyes of most fans, myself included, Hollow retains his G.O.A.T. title for the time being, even though he didn’t quite smoke Pat the second time around. As for Pat, he reminded everyone that he's able to compete against the best in the world, and I still have his stock rising despite giving him the loss here.
Time will tell if this is a true classic, but it definitely puts most other battles to shame in terms of substance and entertainment value.
So that’s it. Hollow 2-1, arguably 3-0 in a relatively close battle, but Pat is still one of the most versatile and dangerous dudes in the world.
Thoughts? Let me know in the comments below.