Kriss

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9min3750

See Pava said I should tackle Vike, I left your homie with scars, now Kriss said I should give you the strike, they gon find this body on Mars, cos RC said for the good of the sport I should put Demon’s head on a spike, bra I think the PSL started a trend, cos so far it feels like every league is trying to relegate all you freestate stars

That’s the scheme that won No Peace Bar of the year at the Hip Hop 411 Battle Rap Awards, but nice as it was, he cherishes the Battle Rapper of the Year award more. “…It means I was consistent and it means people can actually see the hard work I try put into every battle. Bar of the year is prestigious don’t get me wrong, but that is just 30 seconds out of the year,” says the North god, No Peace.

The awards are a first for Africa, the only other Battle Rap awards to have taken place in the globe were the 2014 Battlerap.com awards. “Initially when the idea to recognize and reward battle rappers who had done well throughout 2019,we had planned on giving away cash prizes, trophies and other prizes to the winners yes. Financial circumstances related to other activities we are working on that needed a urgent heavy financial injection compelled us to scrap the idea of a ceremony, prizes, trophies and redirect the finances to other activities,” says Hip Hop 411’s Kriss. The winners were modestly announced in a series of Facebook posts throughout last week by Hip Hop 411.

The awards were adjudicated by 50% fan votes and 50% by a select group of judges. They selected adjudicators “with a high battle rap I.Q and they possess an extensive knowledge of the battle rap culture not only locally but globally as well.” Time Xone, Mdu Sibanyoni, Boy Wonder and Denis Bops were the individuals bestowed with judging responsibilities. A vote from a Hip Hop 411 TV staff member would be roped in if one category was tied, but that never occurred.

FINE ACT: Linda Strat
FINE ACT: Linda Strat

Other categories included Performance of the Year which went to Linda Strat, Verse of the Year was awarded to Verbalist while Don V and Fahrenheit’s battle was the Highest Viewed Battle as well as the Battle of The Year. “Real talk, it wouldn’t have lived up to expectation if it wasn’t [Battle of the Year]. I already knew Don was gonna bring it and if I did my bit, it was an instant classic,” retorts Height.

FINEST TUSSLE: Don V and Fahrenheit. Photo supplied
FINEST TUSSLE: Don V and Fahrenheit. Photo supplied

It’s still debatable who walked away the winner in that tussle. Both emcees came proper, not short of confidence. “We put up a dope battle, very personal as far as material goes and with that look at where it took us regarding YouTube analytics, 10 000 views,” says the 1632 emcee Don. One gets the feeling that had the awards been in existence a few years ago, Don would’ve probably gotten the same awards for his battle with Kris. His battles seem to be crowd favourites that rake up big viewer numbers.

True to the nature of calling it like it is in battle rap, there was a Moemish of the Year. That award went to Cape Town spitter Rogan, who was supposed to battle Fahrenheit in the Mother City, but failed to pitch to the battle claiming a rival gang wanted to kill him. All this after his dilly-dally of demanding a bigger cash prize, which Hip Hop 411 obliged to. “The rap battle community has welcomed this new development with open arms and excitement. Even people who are usually negative towards our work because they are aligned to rival battle leagues have been positive about it. In the same breath the will always be people who feel disgruntled and unhappy because their favourite rappers were not nominated or did not win or they feel that their friends who organise battle rap events should be the ones doing the awards,” Kriss tells me.

THA DUD: Cape emcee Rogan. Photo supplied
THA DUD: Cape emcee Rogan. Photo supplied

But these awards can do a lot in raising the standard of battle rap, should they have consistent growth and find ways of rewarding kats with actual prizes and awards. Imagine a No Peace waking up every day to see his Battle Rapper of the Year gong on his TV stand. “…it will make it more competitive and will push kats to work because we all want to our work to be acknowledged, so it will definitely improve the quality of battle rap,” No Peace says. “Battle rap is already a dope close knit family as is, but knowing there’s competition at every corner makes it even better,” says Height.

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5min1540

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.”

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7min2282

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.”

 


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