Music Feeds spoke to the man giving emcees the opportunity to spit bars, Garry McComasky, about his bold venture and passion for hip hop culture.
MF: Tell us what Got Beef? Battles is all about.
GM: Got Beef? is Australia’s answer to the likes of Grind Time Now in the USA, King Of The Dot in Canada, and Don’t Flop in the UK. It is a rap battle ‘league’ which seems to be an existing popularity nowadays. Rap battling has become a sport and these “leagues” are much like any AFL, NFL type of league, only our sportsman are rappers. Better yet, rap battlers.
Got Beef? is about showing the World what Australia can do in this form of rap battling, showcasing talent from all over the map. It is about promoting MC’s talent through these rap battles that otherwise would be struggling to book gigs through no name promoters. But with these rap battles that the growing fans seem to go nuts for, they can become fan favorites, having fans want pictures at venues and wanting to buy their albums at events. The whole thing has gotten crazy.
MF: You are based in Adelaide. What is the hip hop scene like there?
GM: It’s funny you mention that, because our first event was actually held in Melbourne. It made sense to me at the time because the battle scene in Adelaide was dying off and I felt like Melbourne was the place at the time since we’d done so many street battles there previously.
To answer your question though, even though I like to think we’re all over the map, I’ve definitely set my sights on Adelaide (my own home town) as our home for these rap battles.
The hip hop scene out here is CRAZY, and constantly evolving. We have the likes of Hilltop Hoods, Funkoars, Pagen Elypsis, who have gained a lot of notoriety through their music and particularly with the Hilltop Hoods, have essentially paved the way for Australian hip hop to go mainstream and get recognition from the industry.
We have so much talent out here from Manaz, to Mase & Mattic, to Koolta & K21; groups like Gravity Ponds, Social Change and Full Tote Odds are also getting mad love from the scene.
I’m proud to be a part of it.
MF: Having established Got Beef? Battles in March 2010, your YouTube channel already has over 200,000 views! In your opinion, is the Australian rap battle scene growing?
GM: Yeah, it’s really crazy. Over 200,000 channel views, over 2,000,000 upload views. Multiple videos ranging from 300,000 views to 100,000 views and some as little as 10,000 and 5,000.
The whole thing is really overwhelming. As little as 3 or 4 years ago battles like these would have struggled to get 1000 views as the hype wasn’t there. The fan base wasn’t there. The new found success of these acapella rap battles has really been founded worldwide.
The battle scene is constantly growing. People are discovering new ways to approach rap battles. Whether it be choosing unique angles to diss an opponent, a ground breaking punchline, or just some sort of new comedic approach to battling. It is constantly changing.
Certain battle rappers just constantly raise the bar. In Australia in particular, I’d say Manaz is really killing it right now. Yes, he’s blind, we know that. But what makes him really amazing is how passionate he is, and the time he takes to perfect his craft. He writes all his bars in his head, and has so many rhyme schemes that it is becoming a joke.
Let’s not forget guys like Defron, Kerser, Purpose, 360, Anecdote, Nikoteen, and Ilyak they all have completely different styles yet somehow fit into this whole battle rap movement perfectly.
The growth in this scene is obvious.
MF: In the same month you launched Got Beef? Battles, you travelled interstate to Melbourne with some other MCs for a battle there. Tell us about that.
GM: Well, that would have been for the first event. And that event was crazy. We literally had rappers from all over Australia so eager to show their faces and be a part of the movement.
Back then, we had Justice, 360, Defron, Ilyak, we had Greeley from Tasmania, we had Kerser from Sydney, Zone Doubt from Cairns, Kase Won from Brisbane – we had the map covered.
It was our debut event. Sure, we could have done it a lot smaller like some of these other leagues and built up to this, but why?
Rap battles were already popular at the time, and Australia needed the growth. So it was important that our debut event set the bar.
We had Dirtbag Dan from San Jose, CA battle Purpose and myself (Decoy.) We had Madness from Orlando, FL battle Anecdote as well as jumping in the 2 on 2 against Justice/360 with The Saurus from Monterey, CA. It’s safe to say we had different worlds in attendance.
It was so easy to book people back then too. Nobody had this opportunity in their hands before. Now we have to deal with contracts, some of these rappers flourished careers out of this movement so we now deal with managers, and then we have battle rappers that are just amazingly picky with opponents and/or whether they even battle at all.
It’s safe to say though, the growth is healthy. Sure, it’s a lot more of a business now, but for longevity it has to be.
MF: The clash between Justice and 360 versus Madness and TheSaurus is now famous. Tell us how that went down.
GM: That is the most amazing battle I can think of. You’ve got 2005 Scribble Jam winner, and all round battle veteran Justice, teaming up with the now famous, and funny man 360. It was just the perfect team.
I knew I wanted to have The Saurus over here to battle. Being a 2x World Rap Champion, 2x Scribble Jam Champion, the guy set the bar for battle rapping for many years. He needed to be a part of it.
I guess it all fell into place from there. After talking to The Saurus, and Madness on the phone many times discussing potential opponents, we agreed that something classic had to go down. And nobody was more capable of putting on a classic battle at the time than Justice and 360.
The team duo was just amazing on both sides. Each team had their strong points and the clash was truly amazing.
For over a year that battle was the most viewed rap battle of all time in Australia, closing on 400k views now.
MF: Are the battles you host all freestyle or are scripted lines allowed?
GM: I would say rarely are the battles ever freestyle. That’s not what this format is about. The acapella format is very much structured on polished written raps for your opponent, anticipating that opponent in advance, and playing to a room full of people commanding an audience.
This acapella format allows for people to hear every word bar for bar, digest what the person is saying. It lets the battlers themselves take time on their material, and show their dominance with the pen. At the same time, show their ability to hold the crowd in the palm of their hands.
Even theatrics plays into rap battling now. In the old battles over beats that you would have to wait to see on a DVD, the rappers had to be filmed from so far away because otherwise the loudness of the beats would distort the sound and such.
In this new format, rappers are filmed close, they are heard by all, and they even get the chance to show off to the crowd with a cheeky glance, or the pop of a collar, or a funny impression.
One thing I gotta add is that freestyle “rebuttal” is still a very highly regarded and important part of being a good battle rapper. Not everyone can do it but those that can warrant so much more respect.
I’ll just say this…
“I am Benjamin Button at the cycle that I’m aging, so when I’m 50 I’ll fuck your daughter at her high school graduation.”
MF: Got Beef? Battles take the form of acappella spoken word, with the absence of beats. Why is that?
GM: I guess as I mentioned earlier, it’s a new format first seen by Jumpoff in the UK back in 2005/2006, which was always street battles at the time.
The main reason modern battles are done like this is definitely for entertainment value. That’s important to the fans in the crowd.
Bar for bar every diss, retort, conversational rebuttal can be heard and digested by the crowd. And they are the ones who decide whether a battle is hot or not.
MF: You’ve got an impressive array of international artists, including MCs from the States, Europe and New Zealand. How did this come about?
It was really just an obvious choice. If you want something to be big, you have to do it big. And there is nothing bigger than international competition. You just know both countries are gonna view the battle later on, and that the crowd are gonna love the aspect of witnessing a talented new individual from a foreign land sweeping them off their feet.
Some of these guys, whereever they happen to be from, are legends in their towns, or countries. And it’s so great to pair them with our own legends, or home town heroes.
It is important for growth that we get the World involved.
MF: What is coming up in the future for Got Beef?
GM: We’re just about to have Got Beef?’s 2nd birthday. We’re celebrating by having Pagen Elypsis member and Adelaide veteran Purpose take on The Saurus March 10, at Fowlers Live in Adelaide. Shameless plug aside, that will be an amazing battle. An actual battle. No gimmicks. We haven’t seen or heard of a battle of this caliber in a long time.
We’re also collaborating with The Saurus again later in the year to do our “Road To Success” tournament. This will be an 8 man tournament, held over 2 events, to see who really has what it takes. It’ll give up-and-comers the chance to prove who is the champ, and who deserves the spot; the spot being a shot at The Saurus and title as Got Beef? Champion. Nobody can be mad at that.