In 44 BC, The Ides Of March became famous as the date of the assassination of Julius Caesar,making it a turning point in Roman history. It’s the theme for this Saturday’s Zulluminati rap battles.
“It’s also the day that when all debts must be settled in the Roman Empire, and we have a couple of grudge matches on the card and we’ll be crowning our first champion on the day. So the name was just perfect,” says Zulluminati organiser Pava Gunz.
A name known very well on the battle scene, Pava has proved his worth as a battle kat. His most popular battle could be when he battled Kriss, with his back turned against the rambunctious emcee from Benoni at Scrmables4Money. But Pava, having already organised five Zulluminati events with his team, has realised that the administration side of things is another beast which demands that he face it straight on, if this league is to make an impact in the battle scene.
“Finding sponsors is definitely the biggest challenge, as putting together these events is a financial strain on its own. And sourcing new talent, I believe there’s a multitude of dope rappers in the country, they just don’t wanna show themselves.”
Introducing new acts to the scene is important to Zulluminati. Earlier this year, they put out a poster for the Shoot Yo Shot event, specifically searching for eight unknown emcees. Shoot Yo Shot is Zulluminati’s undercard event to the main. “We try to unearth new talent and give overlooked emcees an opportunity to get their names out there. As the battle events out now are just recycling the same emcees, and that stunts the growth of the culture,” says eMalahleni’s very own.
Leagues such as this one and the likes of Hip Hop 411 are important for South African battle rap. Especially after Scrambles4Money came to a sudden end. A number of kats were anxious that would be the end of battle rap in the country. “We are in the right direction, but still haven’t reached the level I think it can. Even during Scrambles heyday, the hype and buzz was more than this. But we’re growing and that’s all we need right now,” says Pava, speaking with a tone of an OG.
Some tantalising matches for this weekend’s event will be Don V taking on the Vaal’s Willy Wroth; the title match between Cerebro and Kano as well as Fahrenheit versus Osama Bin Chaplin.
“On the main card I have King Zodiac, a relatively unknown emcee but with loads of talent and potential. We gave him a chance at the previous event Backlash, and he grabbed it with both hands.”
The Zulluminati battles are put together by a team, which affords Pava time to still put on his cape and get in the ring. “Got one or two battles line up for this year that will rock the culture, so I will get back in the ring soon…but right now I’m focused on elevating the culture.”
You may find him to be too loud, entertaining or simply just annoying but thing about Kriss Anti-B is that he’ll never leave you feeling indifferent about him as a person or an artist.
It could be his background as a battle rapper that informs his abrasive honesty, but Anti-B is one of the few rappers that aren’t shy to share their opinions about anything; from his thoughts on radical economic transformation to a his opinion about a colleague who eavesdropped on him reciting his lines in the office, thinking that he’s praying. This East-rand rapper will let you know what he thinks and how you feel about that, is really your own indaba.
“…My followers and supporters especially black supporters, think I’m against radical economic transformation because I criticize the leaders of that particular movement. It’s funny how criticizing Julius Malema’s blatant hypocrisy and dangerous vile, divisive knee jerk, one dimensional populist ideals is seen as being anti-black,” says Anti-B.
“I never left or took a break from battle rap. I merely decided to buy my soul back from the owners of the league I was contracted too…”- Anti-B
Having first met him, Mzontsundu Christian Radebe, Kriss five years ago when he was using the moniker Anti-bullshit, I’ve see the artists’ growth from being a disgruntled-sounding underground battle kat to now being a genuine recording artist that is aware of his brand and its reach.
“The streets will forever know me as Anti-bullshit but that can make me lose a lot of corporate money and mainstream plugs because it’s deemed a swear word. It’s not dumbing down but understanding how far your power reaches and meeting them halfway.”
In the five years he’s grown his name as a main card feature on Scramble 4 Money battle league, was a performer at the Back to The City last year and this year too and was a featured in the B.E.T cypher in 2017 while he held the title as a six time Champion on Oskido’s I Believe show on Metro FM.
“There’s a lot that happened. Releasing my debut music project being the most important personally to me.”
His growth was simultaneous with the release of his album last year after he decided to leave the Scrambles league.
“I never left or took a break from battle rap. I merely decided to buy my soul back from the owners of the league I was contracted too. I wanted to battle in different cities, different provinces, different countries and being a part of that particular league stifled that growth so I left that league and started touring the country battling and after every event people would ask about my music so it was a natural metamorphosis for me.”
He comes from the school of thought that battle rap is a way of gaining street cred and brand recognition so your music can have an audience, though he concedes to people carving out careers purely from battle rapping.
In June he’ll be in Durban for the Raw Deal Battles and in Limpopo the following month to battle in the Snatch The Mic league. “I’m a hip hop scholar; battle rap just so happens to be one of the subjects I major in.”
Although he wanted to release a Revenge Of the Boombap Vol.2 this year, he’s currently working on three other projects which are collaborations. “I got an EP I’m working on with my U.K based brother Death Star called 2090 while another EP called Beastrands Flyest in collabo with my Eastrand Tree House Clan brothers.”
The other project is a yet to be titled album with Zulutune Records producer and DJ Doctor Bops. “All of these projects will drop before September, but I really wanna do something different. I wanna do a neo soul/trip hop/acid jazz project with some live instrumentalists and female vocalists on that Portishead alternative tip.”