Someone – I can’t remember who – hoisted Gin-I Grindith on to their shoulders. With one of the mics hanging from the ceiling finally in his grasp, Gin-I Grindith shouted for the crowd to calm down because Tumi wanted to say something.
“Respect the MCs,” he said for the umpteenth time that night. But the crowd was too restless. Tumi Molekane of Tumi and the Volume fame ended up shouting only two of the three things he had planned to tell the opinionated crowd. But many of them were no longer interested.
It was the end of the highly anticipated Talk is Cheap hip hop battle which will be a web-based show. Under the Scrambles4Money umbrella, this past weekend saw a very well-attended independent show that seeks to expand the National Battle Circuit triumph at Grayscale Gallery in Braamfontein.
It was hosted by well-known battle rapper and artist Gin-I Grindith. Pioneer Unit MC, Ben Sharpa, Kool Out DJs, Raiko and P-Kuttah, Krookid The Warmonga, Joint Pusher and Fudge Da Fugitive (who sat in for Krookid and Sharpa during the Snazz battle) were judges.
By the time Tumi wanted to say something to the crowd, one of the most talked-about hip hop battles of the year had just gone down and the heat was turned all the way up.
Over three rounds, the Tumi and the Volume frontman had gone toe to toe with one of the night’s most skilled battle rappers, One L.
Unsurprisingly, a big part of the crowd expected the former to fall flat on his face. After all, the huge margin between who are perceived to be “real” rappers and “radio” rappers has never been an elephant in the room. But Tumi righfully won.
Make no mistake, while this battle was one of two that were called the Main Event, One L was a worthy opponent. The highly energetic rapper was armed with heavy words. In his arsenal were disses about Tumi being – well – heavy, and jabs at his religion.
Pressing his ear to Tumi’s belly, One L emphasised there had to be a foetus in there. “If it could talk, it would say: ‘Help me please, he keeps feeding me pork.’” That battle was entertaining, to say the least.
This part of the culture is all about combat, and facing off with Fusion proved to be fatal for Safari’s battle career. Calling out some very personal details, Fusion TKO’d an opponent who choked on his rhymes.
TOP and Jaz were also enter- taining. TOP – who won this battle – garnered plenty of laughs for calling Jaz broke, a disgrace to his home town, and christening him Jazica, as in Jessica.
Cape Town’s Fungus The Mutated Lung was exceptional and also quite personal in his slaying of Snazz The Dictator. From dissing Audio Visual – did Krookid The Warmonga stifle a chuckle about that? – to something about a drug habit, there were no sacred cows.
To those who grew up watching Snaz chew up many an MC on the rhyme battlefield, it was heart- breaking to watch him as what seemed like a shadow of his former self. Snaz forgot his words and showboated with verses that had nothing to do with Fungus.
Also, it would have been nice to see Tha Hymphatic Thabs and Adamus go at it, but we weren’t able to because the latter didn’t pitch.
It was surprising that for the final battle, hip hop veteran Amu was allowed to introduce Tumi. He hadn’t introduced anyone else all night but Gin-I Grindith says Amu had only been asked to guest host the main event.
Here are the things Tumi wanted to tell the crowd who wouldn’t give him a chance. One: no matter what happened that night, hip hop won. Two: he would share his R3 000 winnings with One L.
And the third thing? Well, phone calls to Tumi proved fruitless before going to press, so I guess we’ll never know.
• The first Talk Is Cheap battle will be on www.youtube.com/ scrambles4money on August 27.