CrownSound Scotland’s Live ‘N’ Spittin’ is an annual Hip Hop event with a 16 Man Freestyle Rap Battle Tournament along with live performance sets by popular Scottish Hip Hop artists. This year it was held at Audio in Glasgow on Friday 28th November and was very professionally organized. The Scottish line up of artists were joined by the Manchurian with multi syllables for every line who spits above average skits; Shotty Horroh. He joined Scottish high energy heavy spitters Deadsoundz, the lad with the lyrics David MacWilliam and Chicago’s answer to Ill Bill; Shifty Presidents. There were also 16 Scottish battle rappers with varying degrees of talent (some were not performing to their normal standard) which only made the really high calibre battle rappers that night stand out even more. They were joined by myself on behalf of ‘I Am Hip Hop’ as we are now going to be the only national magazine following the Scottish Hip Hop Scene which until now it has largely been ignored by the outside world. That’s a whole separate article that is in the pipeline for another edition.
Battle Rap is still imprisoned behind the misogynistic, homophobic, narcissistic violent ‘bars’ constructed by the white corporate capitalist bastardization of Hip Hop. However the notorious bastardization of Hip Hop by white AmeriKKKan corporations is something that will be analysed in another article because it is a complex issue that should be critically evaluated. Regardless of the politics of Battle Rap there is no doubt that real freestyling and intelligent lyricism with a good use of word play and multi-syllables is something that takes incredible skill and intelligence. Regardless of whether or not your average citizen or discerning Hip Hop head approves of the often repetitive vulgar school boy content present in some Battle Rap there is no doubt that real skill and intelligence are involved in many tournaments and there are incredibly talented battle rappers on the Scottish Hip Hop Scene who deserve recognition. There is more than one way of saying the popular battle line ‘I fucked your mother!’ There are some talented battle rappers who have the lyrical prowess to invoke humour and even intellect when spitting something as crude while others just sound like mindless ingrates. It is about using words in a way that they command power like verbal punches which leave a mark. Being able to do this with words, especially when it’s being freestyled, takes incredible talent. Charisma is another essential component for a battle rapper and some battle rappers can convince you that they have skills until you realise that you have been duped by their charm, character and confidence. However those who have been selected as judges in Battle Raps know who’s all about the swagger and who can really use words to pagger (Scottish slang for ‘beat up’).
For me there was only two battle rappers at this particular tournament who were bestowed with charisma in conjunction with the ability to successfully turn words into weapons in a way that was far less predictable and generic than all the other contenders. However there were other talented battle rappers there who I have seen kill it at other events but were off their game on this particular night. Although there were other battle rappers there with skills and some clever lines they were by no means battling to the same level as Evil and A‑Macc from the Deadsounds Crew at this tournament. These two champs were verbally throwing heavy hitters in the Hip Hop heavyweight category when many of the other contenders were featherweights when it came to freestyling, humour and lyricism at this particular event. The best battle of the night came when Evil and A‑Macc faced off against each other as they threw Mike Tyson like lyrical left and right hooks throughout every part of the battle and verbally they both managed to bite each other’s ears off leaving the judges hard pushed to pick a winner. There was no winner in that particular match and Evil went through and eventually won the whole Live & Spittin Tournament to receive a sick looking trophy, a hundred pounds, free beats from producers and lots of ill original threads from the unique urban clothing lines Conspiring Ravens Murderous Crows Clothing (CRMC) and Toke Clothing. If Evil or A‑Macc had taken the title it would have been a fair fight because they both battled like true lyrical warriors and injected some intellect into their insults.
Many Scottish battle rappers needs to put down their Buckfast and pick up their pen and practice their skills as writers and practice their freestyling by rhyming against their mates because there is an immense amount of talent on the Scottish Scene that needs nurtured so that Scottish Hip Hop can put itself on the world map. The standard of Scottish Battle Rap could be raised if those with talent and potential really start putting in work and expanding their lyrical abilities by practising them more because the Scottish Scene has to expand it’s influence beyond Scotland. There are many battle rappers in general who need to learn more creative ways of annihilating their opponents as opposed to calling them a ‘faggot’ in as many different ways as possible, saying they have got Biblical with their opponent’s Mother or girlfriend or accusing their opponent of writing their bars when they’re bars are so wack that they are clearly rhyming badly off the dome. This can be found in all Battle Rap worldwide but if Scotland is going to raise it’s game to get international recognition it has to be original and try and not engage in many of the trends that hold Hip Hop back. There has been some off the hook Scottish battles but there could be more if Scottish battle rappers chose not to fall into the predictable trends that countries with way more successful Hip Hop scenes can afford to at times. There was a couple of incredible battles by Loki and Jinx that I watched on YouTube that were on a whole different level and that is what Scottish Hip Hop needs more of to establish itself. Unfortunately at this tournament even many of the more talented battle rappers did not bring it to the extent they were capable of which was disappointing. Nevertheless the two emcees who both would have made worthy winners in this war of words proved that Scotland has real original talent just waiting to be discovered by the wider world. There was other talent present but to compete with the US, other parts of Europe and even down South Scottish battle rappers in general need to move away from predictable playground insults and ‘raise the bars’ the way Evil and A‑Macc did and many others do at other battles, shows and on their tracks.
Deadsoundz, Shifty Presidents and the non-pretentiously named David MacWilliam ended up holding the mic more than the headliner himself but even the few hardcore Shotty fans I heard talking were not tripping too bad on the main man from Manchester being on at eleven. That is because the other artists really captivated the audience with their talent, energy and stage presence. The Glasgow Deadsoundz crew with members SubKonsious (The Anti-Injustice Movement’s Scotland General), A‑Macc (who’s performance prompted me to give him a place in The Anti-Injustice Movement), and Steve ET really did keep the night going with high quality crowd pleasing tracks which kept things popping on the dance floor. Their lyricism was sharp and held everyone’s attention and kept the night with a party atmosphere. However they do have some conscious tracks which prove they are capable of more revolutionary content which demonstrates their ability to be versatile as emcees. They spat with a smooth and consistent flow to some real catchy beats that made sure that if you were not throwing shapes on the dance floor your head would be nodding and foot tapping to their upbeat Hip Hop party anthems. My colleague Gata Malandra did an interview with Deadsoundz during her time in Scotland so keep your eye out for that on the site. I also got an interview with Live & Spittin Winner Evil (aka Findlay Johnston) so expect that over the next day or two. It was a great interview with a really talented young MC and Battle Rapper who has big things to come.
Shifty Presidents, a Chicago MC who is holding it down for Hip Hop in Scotland, really brought presence and raw natural charisma to the stage as the host of the show and then as a performer. After Deadsoundz had everyone in the party mood the charismatic US emcee took to the stage and spat hard and grimy like a member of La Coka Nostra or Army of the Pharaohs. His lyrics were more about partying than politricks but he would surely be capable of both which is what crews like La Coka Nostra are all about. Shifty spits the type of Hip Hop, or ‘Goon Musick’ that I predominantly listen to so his performance would have been a definite highlight for Hip Hop heads who like that particular US grimy underground style. He’s am emcee who really could get big if he established a national and international reputation with Hip Hop heads who appreciate razor sharp spitters like Ill Bill, Slaine, Vinnie Paz, Madchild, etc. This guy needs to think big as he could be headlining shows as a major act as opposed to opening shows for major acts like the incredible Madchild of Swollen Members. If this man plays his aces he will be spitting vitriol in a Snowgoons video with other ‘mainstream underground’ beasts on YouTube sometime soon.
The last Scottish artist to perform did not have the physical presence or cocky charisma of some of the Deadsoundz boys, Shifty Presidents or Shotty Horroh. He looked like your average boy next door but when he got on the mic David MacWilliam absolutely smashed it. There was no hard ass Hip Hop alias, backwards cap and bling or gimmicks of any description because this young man’s abilities as an emcee were all that was needed to win the audience over. His lyricism was intelligent, heart felt and cleverly constructed but without a hint of pretention. He had energy, passion and a natural talent for the First Element of Hip Hop which he heavily incorporated with The Fifth Element (Knowledge). He looked in his teens or early twenties but spat original bars like a true Hip Hop veteran.
Shotty Horroh arrived at 11pm to do his set but on that particular night the conscious London emcee of Jamaican descent Klashnekoff was performing in the centre of Glasgow with other popular Scottish artists opening for him like Glasgow emcee and world class Beatboxer Bigg Taj. There was a one hour overlap between the end of this event and the start of the Klashnekoff’s show so many audience members only caught a few tracks by Shotty Horroh before having to shoot off to the other show. There is no doubt that Shotty has more bars than Wetherspoons, a fast but fluent flow and many successful tracks that invoke a multitude of reactions due to his versatile content. He is a successful emcee for a reason and the audience would have liked to see more but it was a definite bonus to be able to see the the Manchurian with multi syllables even though it was for a short time.
However what was clear was that Shotty Horroh was not needed for this show to be a great success because the battle rap was entertaining even when it wasn’t on point and Evil, one of the two Battle Rap beasts of the night, took an award that he truly deserved. One that A‑Macc could also have won fairly. The artists who performed, who were initially seen as being like openers for Shotty Horroh proved themselves to all be worthy headliners in their own right. They kept the night on a Hip Hop high and never failed to set the mic on fire. The show went so well that the main act not performing until late on did not even effect the success of it. The time has come for more Scottish opening acts but even more Scottish headliners! It was a great night for Scottish Hip Hop and there will be many more!
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- Review: @Crown_Sound Scotland’s Live ‘N’ Spittin’ 2014 — December 14, 2014