We caught up with Sketch Menace & Chedda Cheese to talk about KOTD’s #Frostbite2
Calgary, AB – In case you missed the memo, King Of The Dot‘s highly anticipated #Frostbite2 event is taking place in Calgary on Dec. 5 at Distortion.
The event is hosted by Sketch Menace and Dizaster, and features a long overdue main event battle between Calgary’s Chedda Cheese and Toronto battle vet Kid Twist. The event also features a battle between Sun Tzu and Pay Day, as well as a handful of Ground Zero battles between battlers on the come up.
Photo by Talyn Harper
Full disclosure: I still consider myself a complete KOTD rookie but Sketch Menace has been very resourceful in educating me proper over the last year. I’m still learning the ropes but GODDAMN battle rap is addictive. Instead of scouring through the Complex archives or bumming around RapGenius in my down time, I now often find myself binge watching KOTD battles on YouTube.
During my first ever interview with Sketch, he referred to battle rap as an “art form” and I kind of laughed it off at the time. Now I feel like a bit of a dipshit for laughing at that statement because battle rap TRULY is an art form. Battle rap is the art of wordplay and lyricism. You know when you hear a song and it makes you feel some type of way? Well, when you’re watching battle rap and you hear a punchline that utilizes some ridiculous rhyme scheme or double entendre, or WHATEVER, it makes you feel that same type of way.
So when the #Frostbite2 event was announced, I had to link up with Sketch for an interview. And to make things even better, Sketch talked Chedda Cheese into dropping by for the interview, too. Sketch and Chedda broke down the battles on the upcoming event for me. Sketch explained how the match-ups were chosen and the guys explained how each battle is probably going to go down. We came to a unanimous decision that Fingaz should start battling in KOTD again. And then the guys reminisced about Sketch’s very first battle against McNight and this one awesome cypher circle they held at Millennium Skate Park way back in the day.
After our interview, Sketch coerced Chedda into doing a dab and Chedda got stoned and told us about that one time when he was still in school and he taped a cheese stick to the inside of his locker and kept it there for an entire year.
On the real, though – I’d never actually talked with Chedda in-person before so I got to find out about his come up as a battler. He started off doing online rap battles for shits ‘n giggles during a computer course in school. And that eventually progressed into face-to-face battles. And now – after doing a handful of major battles in 2015 – Chedda is headlining the main #Frostbite2 battle alongside Toronto battle vet Kid Twist. Big things happening.
Q&A: Sketch Menace & Chedda Cheese
How the match-ups were chosen
HipHopCanada: Tell me about the match-ups. How did you decide who to put against who?
Sketch Menace: When there’s a sequel to one of [our events] there’s a certain level of success that happened with the first one. So we wanted to make sure that when we used #Frostbite2 – which we’ve been sitting on for a while – we wanted to make sure we had the right card for it. And Kid Twist versus Chedda is a battle that we’ve been wanting to do – Chedda can attest to this – since the beginning. Like six years, or something like that. So it seemed like the appropriate time to do it. We tried for some bigger battles but things didn’t work out so we went the route of going back to our basics: doing Ground Zero style [battles], giving up-and-comers a shot, and putting them on the same card as heavyweights like Twist and Chedda.
HipHopCanada: So are most of those Ground Zero battles?
Sketch Menace: Sun Tzu versus Pay Day is a King Of The Dot Battle. Kid Twist versus Chedda is a King Of The Dot battle. The rest are considered Ground Zero ones. And then again if guys kill it and exceed expectations, then absolutely we’re willing to give them space on the main channel.
HipHopCanada: So Chedda – you’ve kind of been on the scene for a while – and you’re not as much of a vet as Kid Twist. What’s it like for you to be in that position?
Chedda Cheese: He’s been around for a while – maybe a couple years longer. But as far as King Of The Dot goes, it’s pretty much around the same time period. But he was just kind of more well known back in the WRC days, before anybody knew who I was. I would say he’s maybe a little more experienced but I think at this point it’s a pretty good match-up.
Chedda’s approach to battling Kid Twist
HipHopCanada: What’s your approach been like [for this battle]?
Chedda Cheese: I do the same thing I always do – just walk around like a weirdo outside by myself and think of lines.
Sketch Menace: [laughs]
Chedda Cheese: That’s usually how it goes. Until it gets real cold…
Sketch Menace: It’s like outside at battle events – it’s so funny. If the weather’s nice and permits then there’s these spools of guys that are pacing around in weird little corners that they’ve taken in as their own…
Chedda Cheese: They think of their lyrics? Yeah.
Sketch Menace: Yeah. Think of their stuff and go over their shit.
Chedda Cheese: I’m not done yet. But I will be.
Sketch Menace: How do you approach this one, compared to like… Big Kannon? Because Twist is like… funny, and like Twist. And Kannon is Kannon.
Chedda Cheese: I don’t feel like I approach process for battles that much differently. Or the mind-state that I go into. I think I just always want to be as entertaining as possible and that’s the most important thing, I think. Of course the angles will be different because they’re different people. But it’s pretty similar as far as what I do for preparation for the battle.
HipHopCanada: I think you’re very interesting in that you approach your battles from such a humorous perspective. And that’s been your shtick, right? And that’s probably a lot different than how a lot of guys go about it.
Chedda Cheese: I kind of strayed from that a few times and it didn’t work too well in my favour.
Sketch Menace: Which [battles]?
Chedda Cheese: Mostly the Arcane battle.
Sketch Menace: [laughs]
Chedda Cheese: I took that too serious and that didn’t work well for me. I think I’ve found my style a bit more now and what works for me and what people like. So that’s what I’m trying to do.
What to expect at the event
HipHopCanada: So for each of you – what battle are you most looking forward to watching?
Sketch Menace: Kid Twist versus Chedda, for me. Because it’s just been something – as a person who’s a staff member at King Of The Dot – that I’ve always wanted to see happen. And always a battle that I wanted to bring to Calgary, it being my city that I do this predominantly in, and have done for a long time. I’m super looking forward to that. Getting guys like Twist – who are dudes I was a fan of before I got to the level I’m at now – is always an honour. To bring those guys in. And then having Dizaster in the building for it, too. Scott Jackson will be there. A lot of cool people will. And a really cool audience to take in a battle. I think it’s going to be something that’s remembered in Calgary. All due respect to Sun Tzu and Pay Day. Pay Day has some of the most impressive performances that I’ve seen happen in Calgary or Alberta, in general. And Sun Tzu is someone that nobody had really heard of him before 2011 Grand Prix where we brought him up and he had his debut against Fingaz and it was an instant Calgary classic as soon as the battle ended. So Sun Tzu is someone that we always want to bring back. So Sun Tzu versus Pay Day is a great match-up. Really happy to have that happening.
Chedda Cheese: [looks at event flyer] I like Sun Tzu and I like Danny Epic. Those two are the standout names when I look at this flyer right now.
Sketch Menace: …and just so you know, “Words” is “edWORDS”…
Chedda Cheese: Oh! Really?!?! I was like, “WHO IS WORDS?”
Sketch Menace: Oh totally. That’s why Danny Epic versus edWORDS will be a crazy one.
Chedda Cheese: Yeah. That’ll be a good one. edWORDS is good. I battled him before.
HipHopCanada: Why did he take out the “Ed”?
Sketch Menace: I think he just thought it was corny. Just one of those things you do when you’re beginning when you’re a rapper…
Chedda Cheese: Like Chedda Cheese. Why would anyone keep that name?
Sketch Menace: Sketch Menace is a far better one.
HipHopCanada: I was telling my dad about this interview and he said “Chedda Cheese is a terrible battler name.”
Sketch Menace: That’s awesome. But it fits your shit. And your whole thing. But yeah. edWORDS is someone who – his performance versus Cody The Catch way back when – was easily Top 5 best performances to ever happen in Calgary. Ed Words is super good and…
Chedda Cheese: Him and Fingaz was really good, too…
Sketch Menace: That battle was amazing, too. Great great great battle.
HipHopCanada: Rest in peace, Fingaz.
Sketch Menace: Yeah. For whatever reason, Fingaz doesn’t want to [battle]. We would have loved to have Fingaz involved. For reasons beyond our control, things could not happen. But everyone can know that we want him available. We want him on battles.
Chedda Cheese: [chanting] FINGAZ! FINGAZ! FINGAZ! FINGAZ! FINGAZ! FINGAZ!
Sketch Menace: Megadef will be cool, too. Megadef is coming out from California. He’s a very in-your-face aggressive mean guy. Ill Nye is a smaller dude but has shown a lot of potential in past performances and stuff. So we’re kind of looking for a breakthrough performance from Ill Nye for this one. We really want to see him rise to the occasion. He deserves a good shot against someone. So I think that’ll be a good battle. Again, Danny Epic is definitely the best homegrown battle that’s happening at this event, for sure. Because edWORDS is from Ontario originally. But he’s been here for a long time and all of his battles happen in Calgary. Danny Epic is really good too. Really good lines. He definitely gets battle rap, which is one of the most rare things to find.
Chedda Cheese: He’s very charismatic.
Sketch Menace: He gets it, right? He understands what he’s doing – differently from how he approaches music. edWORDS will do patterns. Multis. He’s been around for a really long time, too. If he didn’t have lulls in between his performances he’d definitely be considered on a far higher level. Because he’s crazy good.
Chedda Cheese: SO QUIT SLACKING, EDWORDS! Prepare this time. Or I’m going to fight you. [laughs]
Sketch Menace: [laughs}
Chedda Cheese: Just joking.
Sketch Menace: And people should be really excited for Copasetic versus Rezza Reckt. Rezza Reckt is a guy who’s been putting on for Alberta for a while.
HipHopCanada: He’s from Edmonton, ya?
Sketch Menace: Yeah. He did really well in the Ground Zero Grand Prix which is the tournament that we did for some money and a title shot, and stuff. He ended up getting knocked out in the third round. But he repped Alberta well. Copasetic has been making a lot of noise in the battle scene recently. Just because he’s this weird artsy dude from Vancouver. He’ll dress up in outfits for battles. For one of them he dressed up as an old man and did the whole battle from the perspective of an old man. I think it’s hilarious, man. I think it’s great. Especially for the live audience. It’s really funny. It’s really entertaining. He’s there just solely to entertain the crowd. He doesn’t care about anything else. So the battle will definitely have some laughs for you at the beginning. Then DVS versus Prehistoric. Prehistoric’s a guy who I randomly caught wind of. I was in Toronto. I thought he showed some promise. He was willing to come out and do the battle. DVS wants to get back into it. Battles like that are easy to throw together. Dudes are hungry. All you really have to do is stylistically match them up and make sure it’s not some funny guy versus some street guy or else things can get a little bit swayed. Just Jordan – this is his King of the Dot Ground Zero debut. He has done other battles in leagues that just within Calgary and Alberta, or stuff. He showed a lot of promise. He’s a local kid. He’s got a lot of friends around. He gets it – for sure.
HipHopCanada: Did he find you? Or did you approach him?
Sketch Menace: I spend a lot of time at Millennium Park – skateboarding, and stuff like that. So young kids come up to me all the time and talk to me about battles, and stuff. [Just Jordan’s] brother hit me up and said “He’s trying to do a battle.” He gave me a link to one of his other battles. I thought it was good. I was like “Yeah we’ll give him a shot.” So I’m excited for that and to put on for the community and give some local skate cats a shot. Bannock Kardinal is a dude who is definitely the biggest breath of fresh air of debuts that I’ve seen. He debuted at the Sylvan Lake event we did recently. He was very impressive, compared to what we usually see at a P.Y. event. Like I said earlier – in terms of bringing it back to what we used to do – we’re giving two debut guys a shot on a card with Twist and Chedda.
How to get Sketch Menace to put you on
HipHopCanada: That’s interesting. So it seems like the best way to approach you to get on to a battle is to go to Millennium.
Sketch Menace: Yeah. It was cool. Because so many people try to approach you to get battles in the most f**king [stupid] ways, to be honest. Guys rolling up on you… and trying to rap for you. And it’s really annoying. And it really is. If you have ANY self awareness you know that’s not a way to approach people if you want them to take you seriously. Especially in rap. Because you’re aware of the stigmas in rap. Those stigmas truly exist for the people who are in positions where they put people on. When you’re just hanging out and getting to know people as people, and they hit you up on this more personal level, [or] you hear about it through a friend – it’s a lot more sincere in a lot of ways. It just makes it more of an approachable situation. Again, talent is what it all comes down to. They link me to a video and if I think he shows promise, I’m willing to do it. That’s what it comes down to. We have huge line-ups of guys who are always trying to get battles. We throw events once every few months in Alberta. Everybody gets shots. And in this case – these guys were getting the opportunity to do this but they definitely deserve this.
HipHopCanada: So stylistically – when you’re looking to put people on to a battle – what makes you more inclined to put someone on?
Sketch Menace: Somebody who just gets it. I understand that people have different opinions than me when it comes to battles. A lot of people want these rap wars. Like who can rap better. And for me – that’s what I listen to music for. Not to say that there’s not a rap element I enjoy in battles. Like Chedda is a prime example of someone who really raps in acapella battles. I’m about making fun of people. That’s my favorite part of battle rap. It was always [about finding] creative ways of making fun of someone. At the core root of it is really what it is. Thankfully I’m in the position where I run a rap battle league so I get to put on people that I think are good – guys who make a crowd roar. A lot of guys will make the excuse, “AWE! They were sleeping on me,” and stuff. But no good performer ever blames their audience, in my opinion. I think that’s the most shameful thing you can say. They’re sitting there. They paid money to come here and listen to rap. That’s f**king food on your plate, man. Just make ‘em do stuff. Make ‘em react. If you can’t do that then you’re a bad performer. Bottom line. I don’t think there’s a lot of getting around that. When guys can do that, they can control the crowd [and] they can tell jokes – whether it’s jokes or they can rap well. Guys like Fingaz. And there are a lot of prime examples. edWORDS is a guy who can definitely captivate a room with how well he raps. But it’s just about captivating a room and making people want to come and create King Of The Dot for what it is. This is a business where we need people in the door and we need viewers. We want people to be entertained and a lot of guys get wrapped in this personal [thing where] they think they’re the best and what they think is the best is always the best. And the numbers show that’s clearly not the case. Guys that are not delusional about it is the main thing I look for.
How Chedda Cheese got into battling
HipHopCanada: So Chedda- I don’t know too much about you. What got you into the battle scene?
Chedda Cheese: I started doing online rap battles when I was in highschool. Just typing them out. It was really weird. You’d just go on these forums and type out these text battles. So that’s how I started. Then I started doing live freestyle battles when I turned 18 – at the bar and stuff. I just kept doing them and then eventually I ended up in King of the Dot so that was good. [Sketch Menace whips out his phone to take a photo] Sketch Menace, you’d better not be filming me right now!!!!
Sketch Menace: I’M JUST TAKING A PHOTO!
Chedda Cheese: Awe. Thanks, man. How do I look?
Sketch Menace: Good. Real good.
Chedda Cheese: Thanks, man.
HipHopCanada: So wait. What drew you into these online battles? That’s very interesting.
Chedda Cheese: It really started just as me joking around ‘cause I had a couple of friends in this class with me. It was this computer class and it was really boring. So they would just go online and do these rap battles. So I decided to do one but it wasn’t like I was taking it seriously at all. I would just make fun of myself, and stuff. And just try and make as big of a fool of myself as possible. But then I actually enjoyed doing it so I just kept doing it.
HipHopCanada: And that’s still stylistically what you do. You’re very self-deprecating. And that makes you a hard opponent because they can’t make fun of you because you beat them to the punch.
Chedda Cheese: [laughs] I guess so. Yeah.
Sketch Menace: It’s very true. I battled you. It sucks writing for you.
Sketch Menace: It’s the worst. There’s ways to make fun of him and there’s a lot of guys who have done it successfully but it’s a difficult task. You have to change your approach to things, to a certain extent. With a guy like Chedda – I look like a fool trying to bully a guy like Chedda because he’s just going to go, “WELL…” and then flip some stuff and everyone’s going to love it. So it’s a different approach for 90 per cent of battle rap. But again – a guy like Twist has been battling people just like him for a while. He’s put in mirror matches from day one. So he’s always been given that role. He’s comfortable in this position.
How Sketch and Chedda met
HipHopCanada: So how did you two first meet?
Sketch Menace: Through battles.
Chedda Cheese: Through Tinder.
Sketch Menace: You should put that in [the article].
Chedda Cheese: LISTEN! I remember Sketch Menace’s very first battle back in my day when Sketch Menace was just a youngster. He rolled up to the battle. Battled McNight, right? [to Sketch] That was your first battle, right?
Sketch Menace: It was McNight. [Editor’s side note: THAT WAS A HIPHOPCANADA SPONSORED TING. JUS’ SAYIN!]
Chedda Cheese: Yeah. I remember that battle. That was your debut. He did very well. I was like a proud father even though I didn’t know him.
Sketch Menace: I came out swinging. No one knew who I was. And then were friends, ever since. And then I was friends with Hollohan and he was the one running the divison at the time. And we were helping him with the division. Chedda and I were constantly talking about battle stuff. [to Chedda] Remember – you used to set up those little Millennium freestyle things? Chedda Cheese used to set up a little freestyle event. We’d all get together and freestyle. We’d all get together. LIKE BUDDIES!!!
Chedda Cheese: That only happened once but it was pretty sweet. Someone else set it up. But I was there. We just cyphered in a circle. It was pretty cool.
HipHopCanada: How come y’all don’t do that anymore?
Chedda Cheese: Because we’re all grown up.
Sketch Menace: We’re all grown up and bitter about rap, now. Back then we were full of promise and hope. Our egos were gentle and soft.
Chedda Cheese: It was before everyone really came together. It was just cool to rap with a bunch of people because… [pauses] …I don’t know what it was. Social media wasn’t as connected as it is now. Maybe that was part of it. We were meeting people for the first time like Hollohan and all these rappers…
Sketch Menace: …guys that we all knew online, first, right? Even the original World Domination event – these dudes from literally all over the world that I’d watched. They’re all in the same room. You all feel like you know each other. ‘ Cause you watched each other for so long. So the introductions are like “What up, man?” BUT I GUESS we’ve never actually met before. And then you formally introduce yourself. I remember thinking Bender was HUGE. And then when I met him I was like, “Oh. He’s just a little guy.” [to Chedda] But even you… I didn’t know much about you. I remember seeing you do freestyle at Cherry Lounge way back when I used to just watch. Then when I was kicking it with Jeff [Hollohan], I seen you guys battle once. So I saw that but you didn’t know me at the time. The first time I ever really heard of you was when you battled poRICH. And then we did the next event like two months after.
Chedda Cheese: That’s pretty cool.
Sketch Menace: That’s right! A little history lesson!
HipHopCanada: So before we wrap, are there any final thoughts or things people should know?
Sketch Menace: Well Dizaster being here is pretty cool. That’s a really big thing. He’s just a really entertaining fun guy. He’s there to kick it with the fans and have a good time. Me and him did the battle at World Dom. [Editor’s side note: That was the battle that Eurgh copped out of so Dizaster battled Sketch as Dizasterugh and it was amazing] That got really good reception. People really liked that so we definitely want to bring Dizaster out for the fans. Show up on time. We’re going to keep a tight schedule for it. Official King Of The Dot merch will available through The Block Urban Apparel – the snapbacks, the official New Era caps, the fitted. So come out and support. We want to keep throwing events in Calgary. And the more that people show us that they want to do more events in Calgary, then we will.
Interview conducted by Sarah Jay for HipHopCanada
Make sure you check out #Frostbite2 in Calgary at Distortion on Dec. 5. Doors open at 7 p.m. and battles begin at 8 p.m. Keep up-to-date with all event details by checking out the official Facebook event page. Tickets are $25, and are available at all NEXT LEVEL locations in Calgary.