King Of The Dot returned to The Bunker on July 23 for a short day of battle rap, sweltering heat and snowcones. The five-battle card drew a mid-sized crowd to the downtown L.A. warehouse, including some notable names like Chubby Jag, NoCanDo and Simon "Dirt Nasty" Rex.
The main event had some issues, but the rest of the battles were strong, with a diversity of styles and some memorable performances.
Cortez vs. Bigg K
This (mildly) controversial battle was the most talked about of the night, but more for its weaknesses than its strength. It was easily the upset of the night, with most fans giving the win to Cortez, the clear underdog going into the main event.
It's not really exact science, but the pre- and post-battle polls give a pretty good indication of how people felt.
Main event Time. Who you got? Cortez or Bigg K?— BattleRapDotCom (@battlerapdotcom) July 24, 2016
Who you got winning that? Bigg K or Cortez? #TheBunker— BattleRapDotCom (@battlerapdotcom) July 24, 2016
The 90-second rounds (short for battle rap, but not that out of place in The Bunker's streamlined approach) seemed like a huge advantage for K, who typically gets right to punching while Cor usually takes a bit longer to heat up.
K adhered strictly to the time limit in his first and second rounds (and enforced the limits on Cortez's longer rounds) but his third was jarringly short, with only about 45 seconds of content. He had no slips or stumbles and didn’t seem to forget his material; he just stopped short.
Apparently, there's more to the story.
Just got of the phone with Bigg K. His reason for stopping had me in tears 😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂 literally. To funny— HEAD I.C.E (@Headice) July 24, 2016
There are still fans giving him the victory, but this was by far K’s weakest showing in recent memory, featuring some fairly tired racial angles and far fewer haymakers than we’re accustomed to seeing from him.
Cor didn’t do anything drastically special here, but the range of his material was much wider than K’s, and his performance was more dynamic in general. He talked to K like everyone knew he would, but he also brought punches, wordplay, and energy that far exceeded K’s. He had time called on him while K called time on himself in each round, but he still got off more than enough to take the W in the majority of fans' eyes.
Considering he’s never clearly lost on KOTD and has beaten many of its top names, it might be time for Cor’s name jump a few rungs on the title match contenders ladder.
The Saurus vs. QP
The Saurus’ showing here was definitely a Performance of the Night contender, and he probably edged the battle 3-0 despite QP’s relatively strong performance. Let’s face it: it was a pretty good time to battle QP — who recently starred in a home movie recorded by a disgruntled, handgun-brandishing ex-significant other — and Saurus capitalized on it.
Despite a couple minor slips that he recovered from instantly, Saurus was in prime form for this battle. The freestyles and rebuttals were there, featuring an incredibly to-the-point haymaker regarding the above incident. He also got intensely personal in the third, but the strength of his performance was, as usual, in his writing. He wisely distinguished himself from QP by delivering cleverly direct punches that really required no head scratching, in contrast to QP’s densely layered approach.
In some ways, this was an extremely strong showing for QP. For example, he was able to lean into every line with electrifying energy, and it was evident that he knew just how he wanted each bar to sound. Still, his rounds were a less cohesive product, with some abrupt changes in topic and several dry spots where he seemed to be deciding what to get into next. For fans of heady wordplay, there will still be enough to entertain here, but you’ll probably edge Saurus regardless.
Fredo vs. Bender
This was my favorite battle of the night, and it was an extremely competitive, multi-riddled back-and-forth. Both Bender and Fredo are known for rhyming some incredibly intricate shit, but the resulting product was far from the meaningless barrage of syllables many fans understandably dislike. There was real substance here, and it made the rapid-fire pace that much more impressive on both sides.
After his botched The Saurus performance and relatively lackluster showing vs. Soul, Bender had something to prove on KOTD. This clash saw him back in vintage form, barking through unbelievably dense sentences without skipping a beat, and still earning haymaker reactions. His third round was especially wild, and he took it pretty convincingly (even Fredo edged him the third in a post-battle interview). He also arguably took the highly debatable first, and a slight majority of fans had him edging the battle, with his name also being tossed around for Performance of the Night.
To be clear, Fredo was no slouch here, and some fans even gave him Performance of the Night. That’s more than understandable, as his Round 2 was absolutely insane. At his best, Fredo is mean as hell — watch his classic Swave Sevah battle if you don’t believe me — and an absolute powerhouse with his machine-gun-style delivery. It takes true talent to power through such elaborately structured insults and deliver them with the same bite as a direct attack, but Fredo more than pulled it off. This one will definitely be debated when the footage drops.
Marlo vs. The Deadman
This was just about as style-clash-y as everyone expected, but it was actually pretty great. Even with how close of a battle Bender vs. Fredo was, this might have been even more debatable, as it was damn near impossible to call.
As usual, The Deadman was extremely consistent here, and every round was solid with no real dry spots. His consistency won him his last battle at the Bunker vs. Big Kannon, and it may have edged it for him here, although that’s totally up for debate. He was fairly predictable with some of his content (e.g. “you’re British”), but he was specific enough with his material to show it was tailored specifically to Marlo and not just some random British guy.
Marlo’s first round was phenomenal, beginning with an eagerly delivered freestyle haymaker about Deadman’s outfit and thriving throughout on the strength of his own absurd humor and enthusiasm. His second was strong as well, but it lost some steam toward the end. As he noted himself, Marlo’s third ended pretty oddly as his approach seemed to have lost some of its appeal by that time, but there’s still an argument that he took the first two.
It’s also worth noting that he had an ingenious take on Deadman’s go-to pose while his opponent is rapping (folding his arms), which has to be heard to be truly appreciated. At the end of the day, this battle will probably raise both Deadman and Marlo’s stock.
Random vs. Baby J
Simply put, Random definitely has some new fans after this battle, and Baby J probably doesn’t. Baby J’s content wasn’t bad, but his repeated reminders that this was only his second battle did not serve him well, and his relatively meek delivery needs a whole lot of work. Still, he had some nice lines here and there. Random, on the other hand, sauntered through a hilarious, bar-heavy performance that turned a lot of heads.
Random is kind of like if you put Carter Deems, Gjonaj, and Caustic in a blender, but it’s a pretty glorious combination. He acknowledged those similarities himself, and the ease with which he delivered all his material is really what made him stand out. At one point after a haymaker involving Gjonaj, he casually turned to the camera and said, “Hey, Gjonaj. I’ll battle you,” in what may have been the most hilariously nonchalant callout ever. The bars were there, the jokes were funny, and it’s only a matter of time until we see Random back on KOTD.
Photos by Jordan Tucker and Michael Marshall.
Buy the on-demand replay of the event here.
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