Remember when Ether happened? It was a thing. Yeah, it was alright. A few sound issues and Diz/Cassidy popped off… second time around. It was a battle event, nothing less and certainly nothing more.
Remember when exactly the same thing happened with Total Slaughter? People are always going to poo-poo events which just about slither by, especially with that level of publicity. Both led people to believe that hype and money could turn battle rap into something bigger than it is. Now let’s be real with each other, battling is already pretty big right now. The talk is all about ‘what’s next?’ Has battle rap peaked? I don’t think it has, it’s just lost.
Comparisons between battle rap and pro wrestling are almost a cliché nowadays, but fuck you because here comes another one. Think back to WWF in the early ’90s. I get that a lot of you probably still lived in your daddy’s scrotum at the time so let me fill you in. Rasslin’ found itself in possession of a product which was high-energy, undeniably fun to watch but REALLY fucking silly.
Audiences tired of gimmicks, commercial tie-ins and an increasingly generic, sanitised version of this product. Old Vince had to come up with something quick before the whole thing went to pot. The answer was the Attitude Era.
The Attitude Era was loud, obnoxious and brutally authentic. It embraced the soap opera of pro wrestling and went full retard with pantomime-levels of steel chair-wielding crazy. It worked. By connecting with the audience honestly and crediting them with the intelligence to suspend their disbelief, people felt comfortable to engage with the mayhem in their millions.
That is what battle rap needs right now. Because come on, battle rap is REALLY fucking silly. It’s two grown men shouting abuse at each other for the benefit of a few dozen other men and YouTube. It’s anarchic, it’s cathartic and it’s a shitload of fun when you take it on its merits.
But when did we start thinking any of it mattered? When did fists start flying and friendships start ending over the ritual exchange of insults? That’s the Total Slaughter/Ether path and all it leads to is alienation. Battlers are not VIPs. Rap battles should not be brought to you by the delicious, refreshing taste of Pepsi.
This is a worrying direction, and a fundamentally dishonest one. By taking everything so damn seriously, leagues are essentially saying that battles aren’t a product that can stand on their own legs. That the only way to progress is with sponsorship and stages and celebrity hosts.
What we need is a brand that gives its audience some credit. We need a brand that accepts that this is daft, but that being daft is brilliant. A brand that hustles its way onto its own guest list, asks you if you’ve got a lighter it can borrow… then asks whether you’ve got a cigarette.
Ladies and gentlemen, I give you King of the Ronalds.
This is the Attitude Era of battle rap. Because you can take battles out of the car parks but you can never take the car parks out of battles. Because posing is for people who have nothing more interesting to do at these events. Because the battles ARE the product and they can.
We have taken over. Do not adjust your headphones. Do not unplug your routers, wait a bit, then plug them back in. What we give you is not polished, but it shines. It is not crafted, but it’s crafty. This is the battle rap that we fell in love with, before the egos. Good, honest battle rap that you’d finger behind the club and never take home to your mam.
Come to a KotR show in 2015 and see for yourself. You have my word that we won’t be dicks to you unless you thoroughly deserve it.