I’m usually really positive in my reviews and articles because I’ve loved everything I’ve had to write about so far, but this is the first time I get to sink my teeth into something more challenging, something that not everybody will agree with and that is – the Aussie battle scene is a let down. Long before I had to research for this article, I’d watched a bunch of these clips, and I have to say they weren’t all that impressive. Apart from the few great rappers out there, the majority are far from the bar.
When a battle is good, it’s great. There’s humour, wit and off-the-dome freestyle. I love the thick skins these guys have to withstand the volleys of some really insulting stuff – hats off to that. But unfortunately, when it’s bad, it’s just a couple of dudes standing around, swearing at each other and going for the d***head mum jokes. Don’t get me wrong, the swearing doesn’t bug me, nor do men intimidate me given I grew up with five boys around, what I mean is this; what on earth is all the misogyny, homophobia and racism really about?
Is it just a boys’ club? Or is it just a lame excuse to stay dumb – to not challenge your own skills (or your opponent’s) to come up with something different, something more intelligent? With so much amazing information coming in from all angles, all some of these emcees can come up with is a rhyme scheme where mums are scum and/or their opponent’s girlfriend gives good h**d. Really… is that all you got? Those gags have been done to death and this is why I love it when an emcee can bring something fresh to the table.
And then, after all the woman bashing and racist b******t, blokes stand around scratching their arses frustrated over why their events don’t attract more peeps. Well, let’s face it – it’s not exactly female-friendly, so you’ve automatically cut out up to 50% of your potential partygoer, not to mention the dudes who would go if it were worth going to.
I’m not saying that there are no witty battle emcees out there, and yeah the mum jokes have a certain comedy value, but not when they’re the only thing you fall back on mate! One dude who I’ve found particularly funny and smart in the scene is a man called Mr Ruckman (formerly Kade MC). I wanted a take from someone who knows more about the scene, and for the record, I asked around but he was the only one willing and bothered enough to talk about it.
When asked about the standard of the emcees going into battles, Mr Ruckman was pretty clear in identifying the ‘lack of process’ in the game. He said that in the past, emcees had to go through ‘pre-battles’ where they were put through their paces, having to prove that they had the skill and versatility to stand on a more public platform. Nowadays, however, that preliminary challenge has been removed so that every Tom, Dick and Harry can jump up and ‘battle’ and hence get that sought after YouTube airtime even though they may not deserve it.
On the flip side of the rapping, he made a really interesting point about the judging system in battles. He said that he appreciates judges that have merit, but the problem is that sometimes judges may not be the best qualified for the position, and that sometimes, they’re either a random member of the audience or worse, mates with one of the emcees! It doesn’t take a genius to work out how shady that is and how it only serves to reduce the credibility of any win.
Lastly, and this is probably one of the more controversial of the points made here, is the fact that the freestyle element has been vastly reduced in battles. It mainly occurs in the rebuttals and even then emcees seem scripted. If we look at the history of battles, you’ll find that opponents had to rap over a beat, which made it harder to prepare for. These days, however, acapella battles mean that an emcee can go in with a script so that they are better prepared. I see a positive in that it’s open to more people, but I would also expect that being more prepared would also mean more skilful rhymes.
In sum, I believe that there is so much more potential for this art form where word warriors face-off, hacking at each other’s egos with razor sharp wit and brute force trauma. But, in order to do this, they must become masters of their weapons which takes training, dedication and importantly – imagination.
As for Mr. Ruckman, check out Kade MC vs Mesar at the 1OUTS league and get to his Facebook page to see details of his new single ‘Revelation’ coming out this week.
WARNING: Video Contains Coarse Language
WARNING: Video Contains Coarse Language