Tony D vs Pedro dropped on KOTR this week and it’s been picking up views like Bowski picks up items from the Pound Saver Menu. March 2nd 2015 is a day that will forever live in the memory of battle fans and, now that the dust has settled, many have been coming to the (correct) conclusion that this is one of the best UK vs UK releases in recent memory.
But why? You know old Bard, us forum nerds like to over-analyse the sound of our own farts. With that in mind, and in a break from the usual format, join me as we pick this match apart to see why it was, quite literally, the right match at the right time in the right place.
The right match
Let’s look at the contenders here. Tony D, the Champ. Pedro, the Don. To say they’re both in their prime here is an understatement. Micky outlined it perfectly in the intro, Tony has dominated the written format in the UK for a long minute by building up a perception of his opponent in the audience’s eyes, then ruthlessly cutting it down.
Meanwhile, Pedro’s freestyle game is pure mayhem, throwing out rhymes like a man possessed with a constant stream of energy and authentic aggression. If you want to see two approaches to battling, two epochs of the art form collide, this is where to come.
It’s also a case of pure offence vs defence. Ironically, it’s Pedro’s furious style which makes him so difficult to pin down. There’s just nothing you can say about him which appears to stick. Even here, in the presence of a true battle rap master you can tell that while he may have been a little humbled, he wasn’t shook. Pedro is NEVER shook.
Tony represents the best kind of battle rap offensive; clever, articulate bars which pick their moment and execute with an effortless-sounding ratio of setup-to-punch. It’s the observation of an opponent’s weakness and knowing how to convince the crowd of that weakness which gave him (in my book) a comfortable win over Shotty Horroh and dispatched Unanymous with little difficulty. Tony battles like a cunning old lion, seeing off competition from the young bucks by killing them quicker and with less effort.
The right time
If you’ve been to a few battle events you’ll know that there’s a palpable aura of ‘I’ve been standing up for 5 hours, this shit better be good’ when it comes to the main event. There’s pressure there, maybe even a sense of wanting to get it over and done with if the event hasn’t been great.
In this case, all of that was dodged. The event had already produced some hood classics and the crowd were hungry for more. Logistical issues also meant that this match got put on sooner than intended, when those assembled were at more or less the perfect state of enthusiastic/drunk/stoned to lap it up. Everything about the timing screamed ‘bonus.’
In a grander sense, this match also happened just when it needed to. Having relinquished his other battle rap duties, Tony had the freedom to take battles he wanted to, rather than simply eating what he was fed. As for Pedro, his momentum has done nothing but build for months. While it remains to be seen whether it may peak any time soon, the fact is that he battled one of the best in the UK during a sharp career incline.
The right place
Of course, where else could this battle reach its full, wildly entertaining potential but on the most disrespectful stage in the MC battle culture?
Look at Tony, when was the last time you saw him clearly having fun like that? It didn’t look like a day at the office for him, it looked like a step back to a time when what he did was a laugh, not a millstone around his neck.
Pedro, by the same token, knew the Ronalds were behind him after cementing his rep with those bold antics against EMC. This was an environment that agreed with both of them in the same way it’s revived so many battlers’ love of the art form.
The picture was completed by a perfectly-sized crowd, vocal but impartial, drinking Hoegaarden by the bucket in a chilled venue. If you fell in love with battle rap pre-Grist, you can’t honestly tell me that this isn’t the best throwback we’ve seen to that era where it was all so new and dangerous to us.
My verdict? Well, to my knowledge this was the first draw in KOTR history. ‘The winner is battle rap’ and all that good. But watching it back, to me, Tony got it because he just does more of what I like. Tony D literally has to fly half way around the world and shit the bed in order to lose a battle nowadays.
Pedro, however, probably got more out of the battle in the long run. He fought a legit monster to a standstill and boosted his already booming career to new heights. Pedro took his place among the UK greats here by sticking to his guns and championing a style that nobody pulls off quite like he does. It just comes down to what you like, and how you like it. There’s something for everyone here.
And that, my friends, is why Tony D vs Pedro is the GOAT battle.