Monday, 15 September 2014

Battle Round-Up (KG & Bristo)

"Seen In Bristo Square", Humans of Edinburgh
Given the latest mainstream exposure that has been given to the likes of Stanley Odd and Loki, interest in Scottish hip hop is at an all time high. Whilst this might not always be reflected in album or live show ticket sales, it has nevertheless seen a surge of media interest from the likes of NME, Vice and even the viral facebook page Humans of Edinburgh. 

Meanwhile, battle rap is slowly developing into a beast of its own. The success of Don't Flop has inspired not only a higher level of production, but also a new generation of battlers. With the old guard of Kayce One, Depths and Respek BA seemingly moved on, there is now a regular set of heads that tend to perform at every event (in addition to Jailz the "battle whore").   

Though videos are still forthcoming, both the Kelvingrove and Bristo battle events proved interesting for several reasons (SPOILERS):

Chad and Subz gather the arriving KG crowd, Crown Sound
Apparently we still love mum jokes

Okay, so outdoor events always result in a particular kind of atmosphere. The drinks are flowing and crowd control can be lacking, but this has its upsides too. Being heckled might be annoying but unforgiving outdoor crowds also encourage performance. If you can make a group of passers by laugh, then they're more likely to engage with the battles as a whole.

I'm the first person to admit that I prefer to see good penmanship over everything else, but certain battles illustrate that it doesn't work in every context. Take Zee, for example: his latest performances on DF and Breaking Bars demonstrate his ability to write and perform, but an off-colour performance at Bristo showed that bars only get you so far. EVIL (see top) might inject a lot of humour into his writing, including infamous mum jokes, but he was by the far most convincing all-round performer at both events. 

Freestyle only gets you so far

Back in the Jumpoff era, the ability to freestyle was a necessity in a battle. In the written era, it is utilised sparingly and can make or break a whole round. Against a round of strong writtens, however, you'll almost always lose. Zebs, fresh off of his best performance v Lex Lethal in Glasgow, learned to his peril against JR the Juggernaut. A special shout out has to go to JR at this point, whose stock has rose massively following his showing v Zee, and a further win against Deadsoundz' Steve-ET. 

JR the Juggernaut, Humans of Edinburgh
Scotland's best can compete

Okay, that's quite a cheesy title. Of course we can fucking 'compete', but since I started penning articles for the Don't Flop website, I have noticed a certain snobbery from down south. Perhaps the insular nature of our scene doesn't help, but the likes of Wee D, JR, EVIL and Number 13 all performed to a high standard at these event, and most of those guys aren't bigger crowd drawers in the way that Louie, Soul or Loki are. As battle rap evolves into its own entity, it leads me to wonder how far Scottish battlers can really go without a consistent channel or audience. My SSU compadre Misterman recently performed in a league in the midlands, whilst Zee (and originally Q-Riot) were asked to travel 400 miles south to perform for free. Consider this an opening to discussion - if we throw battle events, how can we maximise battle promotion and capitalise on its increasing popularity? After all, we definitely have the talent. 

Battles will be posted as they are released. Myself and Leo were shooting the Bristo event and I know he's got a lot on his plate. University/work/life has also put the blog on the backburner again but there will be a review of Loki's GIMP over the coming weeks (and a few other reviews it looks like!). Jonny.