Rap battles have always been important in hip-hop. Many aspects of the genre's evolution and spirit of competition have sprung from the art form, and each generation has had its landmark battles. The 1981 Kool Moe Dee vs. Busy Bee battle at New York's Harlem World took MCing to the next level, while the series of clashes between Supernatural and Craig G in the '90s redefined battle rap rivalries. Some Scribble Jam events of the early 2000s, meanwhile, helped elevate the statuses of folks like Sage Francis and Eyedea.
There could be more history made on June 9th at Exchange LA, as modern battling's franchise player Dizaster takes on the legendary Canibus, who is making his organized battling debut. The event is put on by King of the Dot: Fresh Coast, the west coast branch of Toronto's world renowned King of the Dot battle league.
Here's why you should care:
The Kingston, Jamaica born Canibus is perhaps best remembered for his late-'90s feud with LL Cool J; it's debatable who won that war of words, but though the former's career has cooled off he maintains a strong underground fan base. And while Canibus' 1998 "Second Round K.O." was a celebrated dis record featuring the motivational speaking stylings of Mike Tyson, this time around he won't be in the studio, he'll be battling a capella.
Then there's Dizaster, who was raised in Lebanon, now calls L.A. home, and has made a name for himself as perhaps the top battle rapper of his generation, traveling around the world and vanquishing top foes. For whatever reason, he prefers facing opponents in their own hometowns.
In any case, both competitors are known for their dextrous lyrics, ability to work a crowd, and willingness to completely sidestep political correctness and good taste in order to emerge the victor. So this will surely be an exciting night.
But who will win? We asked three of the most respected rap battlers ever for their predictions.
"Canibus stepping into this battle is like the world's greatest Street Fighter 2 player stepping in the ring with the world's greatest UFC fighter."
"This is what he does every day, all day. People say Canibus is a battle MC, but nobody has actually seen him in a head to head battle."
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"I think ultimately the winner of this battle will be the fans, if only because battling has become so terribly over-saturated and self-referential lately...this may be the only opportunity of this size to change that any time soon. Props to both rappers for making this match happen."
Canibus and Dizaster will battle at the main event of King of the Dot's Vendetta: Battle Royal event, June 9th at Exchange LA. Information on tickets and pay per view orders can be found at canibusvsdizaster.com