KOTD West Coast Squad Tour stops in Edmonton [Review]
Edmonton, AB – Since I joined HipHopCanada five months ago, 2014 has all of a sudden become a year of “firsts.” First interview, first concert review, and on July 19 – it was my first time entering the world of battle rap.
King of the Dot Entertainment (KOTD) rolled through Edmonton to promote their West Coast Squad Tour; Organik, Bishop Brigante, Gully TK, Scott Jackson, Corey Charron, and Revy were on deck to host (and judge) the event at the Studio Music Foundation. You couldn’t think of a better crew to represent; they’re the O.G.’s who started it all.
The underground hip-hop scene is still some-what fresh to me. The majority of the events I’ve covered have been mainstream, so I’m learning as I go. The mainstream crowd, at times, can be a little “stuffy.” Everyone seems to be someone of importance; the flexing, mugging, the labels, the sunglasses in the club (that one never gets olds). The underground crowd? People are actually nice – they smile even. No flex zone whatsoever; they start up friendly conversation while waiting in line at the bar (which I might add – drinks are only $4. Points). It’s all walks of life – hipsters, to hippies, to rastafari (well – they tried at least). I even recognized some faces from the mainstream crowd. Battle rap is hip-hop on a whole new level; it’s raw, gritty, and it slaps you in dead in the face. I think that’s why it draws such a diverse crowd. It was refreshing – to be honest.
The night kicked off with the freestyle competition, where six contestants entered to win the chance to face Freestyle Champ, Corey Charron. After three rounds of two MCs going toe-toe, the finalists duked it out for once last round in a three-way battle (apparently an uncommon occurrence). The winner of the final round went in to battle against Charron. As much as I’d love to give you the 411 on who came out on top, I’mma just leave that with KOTD. However, without giving away too much, I have to give it up to Charron. You hear things about him – but he’s a phenomenon in the flesh. Going in, I knew he was going to stunt, but it was the way he did it that left me speechless: effortless bars, quick-witted rebuttals, and metaphors that left you thinking, “The F*ck just happened?” We couldn’t get enough of Corey that night.
After the freestyle competition we moved right into an eight-man battle tourney which included: Troublez vs Sly Slivers, Trippz vs Billy Shakes, Rezza Reckt vs Philip Solo, and Spud vs Notez. The week leading up to the event, I spent hours watching battles on YouTube just to get of feel of what to expect. But I realized there’s really no way to “prepare”, because I had no idea what these cats were workin’ with. The gimmicks, improvisation, wordplay, and bars for days! Then there were the disses (oh my, the disses). They’ll go after your moms, your girl, your kids – no prisoners and nobody’s off limits. The majority of these MCs spent days on-end to prep for these battles; writing and memorizing their rhymes (not to mention, studying their opponent and his style). Once they were in the ring – they really had no clue what was going to come at them. And they were coming at each other – heavy.
On a few occasions, you could tell some of these dudes were completely thrown off-guard; repeating themselves, stuttering, there were one or two who even stopped in their tracks [for a few seconds] – trying to come back with a rebuttal. It’s unpredictable and that’s what I loved about it – that rawness of it all. That’s what you want to see at a battle; when an MC has the skill to leave his opponent speechless – even for only a few seconds – it’s all you need for a solid crowd reaction.
In between battles Canadian Beatbox Champ, Scott Jackson took to the stage to showcase his skills for the crowd. From Golden Era rap, to R & B, Reggae, Top 40 – there wasn’t anything that Scott couldn’t do. At times, the crowd was so in awe, that it went completely silent. The wide range of sounds that he can acquire is nothing short of extraordinary. Jaw-dropping talent.
Right before the final battle of the evening, Bishop Brigrante graced the stage for one last performance from the KOTD squad. As one of the main hosts of the evening, Bishop’s charming and charismatic persona had us right from the jump. Although battle rap is exciting, it’s still a competition, so you can feel that slight tension in the room. Bishop erased all of that with his energetic performance. He had the whole crowd on their feet, with 1’s in the air, and rapping along to his lyrics. I’ll be honest – I wasn’t familiar with Bishop until I jumped on this project (another “first”), but HipHopCanada has been following his budding career for years and he’s become a staple in Toronto’s hip-hop scene. Great way to close off the night.
King of the Dot is more than a league or a business – it’s a brotherhood. On so many occasions I noticed the boys giving each other daps and showing love – just because. The whole room was showing them love; shaking their hands and taking pictures with them. They built this from the ground-up [several years ago] and look what it’s become today – KOTD is one of the top leagues in the entire industry. They’ve provided countless opportunities for MCs around the world and on Saturday night – Edmonton had it’s turn to shine. I was so proud of what we brought to the table and I can’t wait for the rest of ya’ll to see it for yourselves. Make sure you keep it locked on KOTD for coverage of the Edmonton stop. In the meantime – peep the photos (courtesy of my iPhone) below.
Photography by Rosa Jason
Tags: Billy Shakes, Bishop Brigante, Corey Charron, D-LUX, Doom Squad, Gully TK, Jeff D, King Of The Dot, Kryple, Nine Livez, Notez, Organik, Philip Solo, Revy, Rezza Reckt, Scott Jackson, Sly Slivers, Spud, Trippz, Troublez