The battle-rap scene has grown tremendously over the past few years, thanks to video battles like Smack DVDs and Fight Klub, and leagues like King of the Dot, Grind Time and the UW Battle League springing up everywhere. Dizaster -- in town this weekend to battle Detour as part of the two-day Perfect Storm battle -- is one of the biggest champions in the history of professional battling, destroying longtime champions like Jin and DNA, even crushing the founder of KOTD, Organik, before famously destroying Canibus.
See also: - Sat & Sun: Perfect Storm Battle at Maxim Lounge, 3/30-3/31 - Dent on why battling is a fundamental part of the rap game - The Body Bag Battles League takes MC Battles in a whole new direction
At the KOTD Black Out 3 championship in Toronto this past January, during his first couple of rounds, Dizaster pulled out incriminating Facebook messages that showed his opponent Arcane consulting another battler, Caustic, asking him to write rhymes for him.
Dizaster ended up losing his title to Arcane, but his ghostwriting accusation became the talk of the battle scene, with Caustic later confirming that he indeed shared rhymes with the Canadian rapper.
We recently spoke with Dizaster to find out how the volatile freestyle rapper prepares for battle, what his thoughts are on improvised versus written rhymes, what he thinks leagues like King of the Dot have done for the art of battling and how he feels about the ghostwriting controversy.
Westword : How do you keep yourself sharp? What type of practice goes into the art?
Dizaster: Practice, man. Everything is about practice. You say it 100 times over and say it again. It's all about how much work you put into the craft -- that, and as long as you stay focused, man. Yeah, like I try to tell people, I don't party every day. I don't do that. I mean, I like to have fun when I party, but I really put work into my craft as far as freestyling. I do it constantly, and that keeps me sharp. That's what it is -- competitiveness, studying up on the game, you know, constantly sharpening your mind and not letting yourself go broke in one moment.
Obviously, people have asked you before which you prefer, freestyle or pre-written rhymes, but how many of the top-tier battlers do you think could compete without pre-written rhymes?
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Ninety-nine percent of them would die out. There are probably two people -- me, DNA and, I don't even know, this other cat, but he doesn't freestyle like that anymore -- but that's it, me and DNA. Everyone else would die the fuck out.
Explain the difference in preparing for a pre-written battle or freestyle: How does it change someone's mind state in preparation?
For me, I do both, but I do the freestyle thing to be able to improvise on the spot, and it just affects it a lot. Doing something on the spot is just a lot more aggressive than something that is pre-written. You can always tell the difference between something pre-determined other than something that was on the spot, you understand?
How much research goes into preparing for a major battle?
To be honest, I used to research a lot, but now I don't. I pretty much don't give a fuck anymore. I used to watch all the battles, go through all their songs, do whatever you have to do to find out about them. Some people go after things they may have said in other battles, or things that were even said outside of the battle -- whatever -- just use that shit for your advantage.
Other than the information about Arcane, what other interesting tidbits have you found when researching about an opponent?
Oh! [laughs] Uh [laughs harder], I can't even say that. I found out some shit. We have to wait. I can't release what I found, but I found out some funnier shit than that about an opponent. We'll see soon.
Did the release of the information at the beginning of the Arcane battle, throwing your evidence into the crowd, have the effect you thought it would?
I mean, you could tell there were people in the front really enjoying that shit. I think a lot of people loved it, but they were overcast by the people who were intentionally trying to sabotage my performance and cause all that fuckery, man. There were people feeling it; they were just overshadowed by a lot of haters and all the other shit that was going on. That is how battles go: The energy is one way, then the other, then you recover that shit.
How did you find out about the whole Arcane ghostwriting controversy?
I initially found out because whatever bars that fool spit to Chedda, someone had heard them already. There were bars Caustic had already been rapping to other people, so everybody knew. A bunch of people knew; lots of people behind the scenes knew those weren't Arcane's bars. Arcane just didn't know, but he was going around tweeting 'True Story I never knew Caustic used the same line as me in England,' but he was lying out his ass.
There were a lot of people behind the scenes -- we're talking five, six or seven people -- that had heard those verses and knew he was full of shit. I pretty much just dropped in on a phone conference and went there, and it was all pretty much right there.
All the information was in front of me. All I had to do was e-mail it to myself, and it was nothing. It was pretty simple, to be honest. It didn't even take effort at all. It was so obvious and right in front of me. The proof was right there, Arcane buying bars [laughs]. I couldn't even believe it was real. It was a shock to me.
How much do you know about your next opponent, Detour, whom you're set to battle March 30 in Denver?
Don't know shit. Don't give a fuck bout him. I don't know shit, and I don't give a flying fuck. Don't care to know anything about him. He is not a high-profile battler, so I don't need to know about him. I'm going there to rap. That's it.
I saw that you are headed out on a bit of a tour around the world.
We been around the world. Just got home from Australia today. I'll be in Denver this weekend, then I'll be in Philippines, then Sweden, then back to California, then to New York. That's the schedule. It's solid. Then after that, we don't know. We'll figure it out.
How do you think leagues like KOTD and so forth have really helped the progression of battle rap?
It's helped a lot, honestly. It basically all about consistency and bringing those big match-ups together. So leagues like King of the Dot have constantly brought entertaining shit to the table, shit that people want to see. The battles are always getting better. As long as we don't go backwards, it's always going to blow up and get bigger. They are doing a great job.
Did you feel a shred of sympathy when you saw a so-called legend in Canibus?
There was a lot of sympathy involved. I didn't feel too good about it at the time, but it's whatever. It is what it is. I had sympathy in the moment, but I don't now, I'll tell you that.
How do you see the progression of battle rap, and what do you think it is going to take to push battling to the next level?
Honestly, as of right now, I think it's going to get bigger, and right now, it just needs structure and more funding.
Who do you want to battle most in the world right now?
I hate that question. I don't really know, man. I don't even know how to answer that. I'm not sure. I just don't give a flying fuck right now. Arsonal or T-Rex? I'm going to kill somebody.
Were you shocked that KOTD let Arcane win with the raps you claim he bought?
I don't know if I was shocked, but I felt bad for them. I felt bad for Organik because, even though he bought rhymes, there were a lot of people who thought I got robbed. It was a sad day for them. The chain has way less value, and that's the most views they ever had. I felt bad for them because now their champion is Arcane.
Follow me on Twitter @MrDizaster or on Instagram. Everyone else can go fuck themselves pretty much.
The Perfect Storm, featuring Dizaster vis Detour, Conceited vs Klutch and more, 3 p.m Saturday, March 30 and Sunday, March 31, Maxim Lounge, 2915 W. Mississippi, $15/$20-$25/$30 ($40, two-day pass), 303-935-1364.
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