With a last-minute venue upgrade bringing the party to the Good Ship on Kilburn High Road, King of the Ronalds kicked off 2015 the only way we know how with Britain Last. A solid card, the event promised to bring fans back to the cowboy days of battle events which were at once intimate and raucous. With the likes of Cruger, Soljitsu, Danny Jaqq, Willzy and promising newcomer Smart Alex in the audience it was all but assured that the true essence of UK battle rap would be properly observed… whatever that means.
I’ve got to shout out the venue, who not only pulled an outstanding pint but kept the cost down so your humble narrator could get into the proper mindset. For London, the ability to defile yourself like that without selling a kidney is something that needs to be congratulated and it wouldn’t surprise me one bit if KotR has founds its spiritual home aboard the Good Ship.
Battles kicked off nice and promptly with DL vs JtC. A solid opener for a daytime event, it was the old story of battler vs rapper. DL undoubtedly came with smoother delivery overall and surprised me with the level of structure and flow in his bars this early in his career. Unfortunately he didn’t seem to be breaking down his opponent much, just saying things about him.
JtC, sat firmly on the other side of the spectrum, hit harder with observational bars and a plethora of imaginative name flips despite some hesitant flow. It’s hard to sound unbiased when it’s one of your mates battling but I gave it to JtC based on the frequency and strength of his punches and the crowd agreed with me.
JayBe vs Defenin was next. There was something missing from Defenin’s performance that makes it hard to bring much of it to mind. He wasn’t by any means terrible, it just felt like he was touching on a lot of techniques he’s seen used in battles but not making any of them his own. Both of these guys are new to battling, but JayBe looked and sounded more like a battle rapper and left his opponent playing the part of the out-of-his-depth fan.
JayBe has progressed notably from the last outing of his that I’ve seen, retaining his intricate writing but focusing more on how it carries over to an audience for a deserved win. For what my opinion is worth, this was a bodybag.
Then I battled Bombshell, who came into this match as the undefeated Queen of the Ronalds. She displayed her patented dense lyrical structure and abstract imagery, combined with a nonchalantly sipped cup of coffee and sweatpants radiating an impression of giving zero fucks, despite the obvious care taken crafting her rhymes. This was a career highlight for Bombshell when it comes to personally scathing material.
As for myself, I’m focusing on a more punchline-oriented writing style this year and while I don’t think it’s quite there yet, people seemed to enjoy my observational insight into my opponent’s age/talent/vagina. I’m not going to lie, this was not my favourite performance that I’ve personally given but I just about managed to muddle my way through 2.6 rounds for a live win. I do think I’m going to lose this battle on camera.
Then we had my personal favourite match of the day, Bowski vs Frequent Thought. You might as well have called this Mister Jokes vs Mister Bars, with both gladiators bringing their respective best. Frequent Thought has done exactly what he needed to do since his loss to Two Can, which is to loosen up. He finally looked like he was enjoying himself up there, aided in no small part by a pen game which has obviously been closely looked at and tailored to an audience.
Bowski, as always, was a juggernaut. The Bowskdog is the envy of a lot of battlers who put effort into appearing effortless in front of an audience of any size, but this particular crowd was ready to eat his material up. He covered all the bases and proved why he’s such a strong addition to the KotR roster. In the end the crowd gave the win to Frequent’s more complete game plan, but this is one you’ll need to watch and decide for yourself.
Daytime drinking screws me up and by now I was feeling depraved. The announcement of Big J vs Mac Sherry was music to my ears as both took the stage for a one-round unlimited battle. Big J did his thing, predictably but mercilessly laying into the public track record Mac has when it comes to consistency and emotional stability. A normal day at the office for Big J is still a treat to watch, especially with that Hoegaarden riding your brain like a Dubai-bound glamour model.
Mac Sherry found redemption here with a round of solid material. Yes, there was a stumble but he recovered and that’s the key. Everyone chokes, it’s how you cover your arse and keep going that earns you a place in the ring. For someone with no battle experience prior to his tryout and only a handful of outings since, Mac’s repeated baptisms of fire are forging him into a highly self-aware and charismatic performer.
Finally, we had an impromptu main event battle combining two discarded opponents. Conker B and EMC were nowhere to be found, word has it that Conker is wandering the streets of Northwest London to this day, still looking for the venue. As for EMC? He just didn’t have anything to wear. With this in mind, Cracker and Soljitsu stepped up to spit their respective bars, with Cracker LARPing as Conker B and Soljitsu capitalising on his uncanny resemblance to EMC.
I’ll be honest with you. We’d had a break between this match and Big J/Mac Sherry and if I was drunk for that, I was slaughtered for this. I can’t remember anything other than something about a stampede and Soljitsu throwing a load of t-shirts at Cracker. You’ll have to watch the footage and make up your own minds. I mean, both of these battlers are fully sick so it’s likely it was a really good match enjoyed by all including your humble narrator. However, journalistic integrity prevents me from just making shit up in order to look clever.
With that, Britain Last was over. We went for food I think. I know I ended up in some pub with Cracker and Danny Jaqq but everyone else seemed to have disappeared by that point. I woke up somewhere in Stratford with an epileptic cat having a seizure on the bed. My companion for the evening, as she was forcing medicine down the cat’s neck, threw me my jeans and told me to fuck off before her fiancé got home. I was in no state to argue so I had a quick bong of some face-meltingly good green I’d bought from Cosmo and hit the road.
…But you don’t need to hear about all that. If this is the standard of event fans can expect this year, then 2015 is looking pretty fucking rosy for King of the Ronalds. With Bun the Cro and the much-anticipated KotR North launch on the horizon, keep your eyes peeled for more great battles and more disrespect over the next twelve months.
All hail Discordia.