KOTD and GZ Battles Present: First Defense (Live) [Review/Photos]
Vancouver, BC – Hip-hop in Vancity is growing in ways that don’t always get the spotlight, but if you’re paying attention, it’s an exciting time to see firsthand how the scene is developing. Battle rap is an often neglected and misunderstood aspect of the culture, and nowhere more marginalized than here in Vancouver. That is all changing.
The president of the KOTD Vancouver division La Sparka is making real progress cultivating an impressive array of hard-working and talented local battlers. If people didn’t take us seriously before, we certainly made our presence known earlier this year when DDSS beat every opponent in the Ground Zero tournament and became the GZ Champion of North America. He is one of the few truly impressive young stars on the Vancity roster and this past weekend he faced his toughest opponent yet, poRich, in an attempt to defend his title at KOTD‘s First Defense held at Fortune Sound.
Our team was on the scene to catch the event hosted by Organik, Gully TK, Bishop Brigante and of course, La Sparka. Peep the evening’s breakdown by Copasetic and photo gallery by Jamie Sands below.
KOTD and GZ Battles: First Defense
Apos vs Blasphem-E
Blasphem-E spent his rounds catering to the battle rap nerd side of the audience and unfortunately wasn’t generating very much momentum. It ended up taking a bite out of his personal heavy in the third round.
Apos energized the crowd with his dynamic delivery and powerful punchlines. Online it might be seen it differently but live it was a clear win for Apos.
Lex D vs Cody the Catch
Lex has had a recent run of inconsistency that has slowed his ascent in the league, but he was on his A-game against one of Vancity’s best, Cody the Catch. Both of these emcees threw great jokes and angles at each other for three rounds and the crowd went nuts. The judges gave it to Cody but I don’t envy having to make that decision – it was an incredibly close battle.
Pigsty vs Ayem
This was a great match up between two of some of the most underrated battlers on the West Coast. Ayem has a long history in battle rap and Pigsty has been holding his own against heavyweights for a couple years now. Ayem has wordplay and a lot of poetry to his style. He hit with bars and punches that will resonate on YouTube but were accessible enough that they were effective with the crowd.
Pigsty had a blend of attacks layered with jokes and delivered with his impressive rhyming ability. Both emcees gave us an historic battle and I found no flaws in either of their performances. Pigsty really had the crowd hanging on his every punch, and that eventually earned him the W.
Sketch Menace vs Uno Lavoz
Apart from the title match, this was the most anticipated battle of the night. A rescheduled match from the Gastown event earlier this year, the fans have long been waiting for these two heavyweights to show off. They did exactly that.
Sketch was incendiary in the first and easily had the best wordplay, jokes and delivery of the night in that round. Uno carried that momentum with his trademark “Yo mama!” jokes and had a brilliant second round as he expertly engaged the crowd. This battle went unjudged, and that’s good because both emcees put on a great show making the real winner the audience.
DDSS vs poRich
The most important match of the night, winner walked with the Ground Zero championship chain around their neck. I have a lot of respect for Po – he is a charismatic and a genuinely affable guy. When he battles he uses that rapport with the crowd to land heavy punches and keep the energy in his rounds. DDSS is no slouch either, though consistently the underdog, he has proven himself throughout the GZ tournament as an opponent not to be taken lightly.
DDSS got into it right away, no build up, just bars, rhymes, punches and did in fact spend the majority of his first round on one rhyme scheme. An impressive start. He followed it up with a variety of decent jokes in the second but closed that round with a surprise appearance by Lil G, and the crowd exploded.
Whatever quality material Po was bringing wasn’t hitting as hard, but he still had a lot of great punches I felt went under appreciated. Some of the steam left him at the end of his second round which became clear when he repeated a few bars from the previous round in his final round.
DDSS was perfect all three rounds and even though Rich had great material, his slip up in the third made it much easier on the judges. The title stays in Vancouver with DDSS.
Photography by Jamie Sands