This Saturday, June 27, is rap battle league King of the Dot’s Back 2 Basics 2 event, live on Internet pay-per-view, emanating from Los Angeles’ House of Gods. With a killer main event in Daylyt vs. Danja Zone, a handful of exciting new battlers making their California debuts, and some of the most anticipated returns in rap battle history, it’s an event that looks to be just what the world of battle rap needs right now.
Even if you’ve only been tangentially following the world of organized professional battle rap, chances are you heard tell of last year’s battle rap pay-per-view events that promised to take the once-niche entertainment to the next mainstream level. While worldwide access to video streaming services has seen battle rap’s niche grow substantially since 2008, to the point where there are now several self-sustaining federations across the globe, 2014’s big pay-per-view events fell short. In July, Total Slaughter proved that, with few exceptions, even battle rap’s biggest names weren’t quite ready such a large platform. Later, in December, FilmOn’s Ether became a debacle, with a headline match between Dizaster and Cassidy that had be cut short because of technical difficulties and time constraints.
But in the ashes of Ether’s shortcomings, the industry realized what it needed to do to get back on track. The rescheduled Dizaster vs. Cassidy main event, which took place the next day in a much smaller venue more in common with battle rap’s roots, was deemed a success. And last month, leading east coast battle rap league Smack/URL successfully made its long-awaited Livestream pay-per-view debut with its NOME 5 [Night of Main Events] super-card, showing growth is still possible for the competitive rap medium. KOTD had their inaugural Back to Basics event in April, headlined by The Saurus vs. Rone and Kid Twist vs. John John Da Don, making this spring one of the most surprising times in the history of the niche.
Saturday’s event takes the Back 2 Basics title to heart. No elaborate stages, convoluted microphones or shoe-horned “celebrities.” Instead, KOTD is bringing fans exactly what made them flock to the promotion in the first place: two guys spitting impeccably crafted rhyming insults at each other. The main event between the controversial Watts rapper Daylyt, an MC with perhaps the most star power in the medium, and 2015’s rap battle MVP of the year thus far, Danja Zone, has the potential to be the battle of the year. Zone’s talents have excelled to the point where his opponents have admitted defeat in battle, and Daylyt hand-selected him for this bout.
Unfortunately, Back 2 Basics’ other featured bout, pitting the intimidating Head I.C.E against cat-loving, affable Carter Deems, had to be cancelled when Deems suffered a seizure last week. Both MCs have shown respect for each other on social media, with Deems, in good spirits, joking, “I guess you could say that I was too shook to battle Head Ice.” (No date has been set yet to reschedule the battle.)
Replacing the bout will be Dizaster vs. Chilla Jones. Beyond the tension that has always existed between these two, this battle is interesting in that it marks Dizaster’s return to King of the Dot after being suspended for a year for punching fellow battler Math Hoffa in the face during their bout almost exactly one year before his scheduled match with Jones. The bout is also Diz’s first American battle since his main event against Cassidy at Ether.
But Diz isn’t the only battle rapper making a return. Back 2 Basics will also boast the KOTD reemergence of QP, an MC largely credited as fathering and popularizing the particular syllable-by-syllable wordplay style that’s become prevalent in the league, as he faces 100 Bulletz. Also making his return to KOTD will be Cadalack Ron, a battle vet who dubiously made headlines last year after a controversial clip of him allegedly injecting heroin mid-battle went viral.
Also hearkening back to the big-event feel of vintage KOTD events is the addition of talents making their L.A. debuts. Cadalack Ron’s opponent, Sicarii, an East Coast MC who has been on a constant rise, finally squares off in the City of Angels. Also debuting is Vancouver battler Pigsty who faces Fresh Coast favorite Reverse Live. The undercard also includes JC vs. Psycoses, Chedda Cheese vs. Remy'D, Joe Cutter vs. Only One and Lex D vs. Tricky P.
For every iconic moment KOTD’s June battles, such as Canibus pulling out a notepad full of rhymes against Dizaster in 2012, these cards also plant the seeds for what battling’s future holds, as evidenced by Daylyt’s star-making performance that same year. For King of the Dot, this return to what made battling explode might prove that going Back 2 Basics is what battling needs to go further into the future.