The Riot’s March Madness Event Recap
By Ethan Peschansky
It’s fair to say that March 31st was an exciting day for battle rap. The URL brought back the small room feel with Smack Volume Two. Arsonal da Rebel and Hollow da Don finally had their long-awaited rematch. The battle rap community found out Nu Jerzey Twork isn’t someone to play with anymore (We also found out he’s Jiren from Dragon Ball Super in disguise).
However, while all eyes were on the East Coast, the Western Conference had a stellar event of its own. Gathering some of the top talents from all over the West Coast, The Riot hosted its first ever March Madness event.
Consisting of over 20 battles split over Friday and Saturday, the The Riot sought to create an event where competition was at the forefront.
“Competition and sports, that’s all my life has been about. I love college basketball; I love the themes, I love all that. It’s just mania, and I feel that was happening with us,” said Kevin Parx, owner of The Riot.
Mainly a day for up-and-comers and tryouts, the first set of matchups, called the Sweet Sixteen, took place on Friday. Among some of the standouts were Trav Uncut, Nico Media, Profane, Sabanac the Bear, and Dryx to name a few.
“This weekend was crazy… Day One was incredible,” said Ron Compton. “The up and comers are trying to catch up to the vets. For the most part, everybody grew.”
While Day One was made up of up-and-comers, Day Two was set aside for the veterans and the upper tier MCs. The matchups on Saturday were split up into three sections: The Elite Eight, The Final Four, and The Finals.
Phillip 4:13 vs BF
The first of the Elite Eight and the first battle of the night was between Phillip 4:13 and BF. Two fast-rising up-and-comers, they engaged in a solid back and forth where both showcased their wordplay and aggression.
Bringing his aggression and unique flow to bear against his opponent, Phillip 4:13 gave a solid performance overall despite a slip up in the third round. With a busy battling schedule ahead of him this year, Phillip 4:13 hopes to continue his development and find himself a tryout on a larger platform.
“I want to keep elevating. I want my competition to elevate,” Phillip 4:13 said. “The fact that I was able to step into the ring with someone of [BF’s] caliber and make it entertaining is a good sign. Hopefully, by the end of the year, I can get another GZ, maybe a PG.”
However, BF was unfazed by his opponent’s performance. Remaining consistent throughout, BF was able to match Phillip 4:13 bar for bar. When Phillip stumbled, BF capitalized with an excellent third round. It was a solid performance for BF who was battling on The Riot and in Los Angeles for the first time.
“It’s a joy to be here, feeling a new crowd. It’s different [in LA],” BF said. “[Phillip] surprised me. He came with some more shit than I thought he had. But at the end of the day, I thought I did good.”
A solid battle, it set the tone for the rest of the event, which only got better as the night went on.
Nato vs Ratchett
The next battle was another Elite Eight matchup between Nato and Ratchett. Returning to the Riot for the first time since 2016, Nato was determined to make his presence felt in his home league.
Taking his wordplay and delivery to new heights, he brought the fight to Ratchett all three rounds and showed little rust from his time off.
“It was a fight. It was a slugfest. It felt like everybody was having a hard time choosing a winner,” Nato said. “That’s the kind of battle you want… you want people to watch a fight.”
However, for a battle to become a classic, it requires a standout performance from both sides, and Ratchett held up his side of the bargain.
While Nato was making his return to the Riot, Ratchett was seeking to establish himself. A product of LA Battlegroundz, Ratchett’s street talk and punchlines were more than a match for Nato, and the fans were impressed.
“I feel like I got the performance of the night. I think I had a lot of haymakers that hit hard,” Ratchett said. “I feel like I out-barred [Nato] in every round.”
Rising through the Western Conference ranks, Ratchett says he wants to take matchups with other MCs from the East Coast and earn respect for the West Coast.
“I want to battle n***as from New York and New Jersey, all the n***as that be talking shit on the West Coast,” Ratchett said. “Especially them DMV n***as… they be talking a lot of shit, but I don’t think they hit that hard. Twork is the best one, and he can be beaten.”
LI the Mayor vs YD
The first of the Final Four, the next battle was between LI the Mayor and YD. Highly anticipated, this matchup was LI the Mayor’s first battle back since he and Geechi Gotti turned themselves in back in January.
Although the battle itself was only one round, it was still entertaining for the fans. YD went first, displaying his elite level pen game and delivery for the audience. Unfortunately, YD had almost finished his round but had to stop due to a choke. He tried to find his place again, but was unable to continue.
“If you’ve ever followed my track record or seen me battle, [choking] is not my style, I’m always prepped,” YD said. “This is the least prepped I had ever been for a battle. Nonetheless, even with what I gave, people said I was cooking shit.”
LI the Mayor followed up. His presence and charisma were undoubtedly missed by the audience since he was gone. Within his first few verses, the crowd was already in an uproar as he landed multiple haymakers.
“It’s like a beautiful welcome home,” LI the Mayor said. “I’m more humble than anything. I appreciate the love because I remember when I had no fans, and now I got a room full of fans going crazy.”
K Philosophy vs XP
Right after the one-rounder concluded, the last Elite Eight matchup, XP versus K Philosophy, began. On paper, this was one of the most intriguing battles of the night and in the building, it more than lived up to the hype.
Up there with the likes of Geechi Gotti and Da Kid Clutch, XP puts the real in reality rap and is one of the best street talkers in the Western Conference. Despite a slow start to his first round, he impressed with his second and third rounds. However, even with his skill, XP acknowledges it was still a challenge to write for K Philosophy.
“I can’t just say anything to [K Philosophy], I got to have some substance. I got to be lyrical too,” XP said.
Coming off of his standout performance against NXT at the Hunger 4 PGs, K Philosophy ready for a style clash. One of the top pens on the West Coast, K philosophy’s brand of lyricism makes him unpredictable and unique.
“One thing that sets me apart is that I’m original” K Philosophy said. “There are times when I’m writing, and I don’t think I’ll be able to reproduce more of this and then somehow it keeps coming.”
Against XP, he always seemed able to surprise the fans with some new reference or fresh angle. With the energy and lyrical ability brought by both MCs, this matchup turned into one of the most competitive battles of the night and will be interesting to see once the footage drops.
Ron Compton vs Danny Myers
Up next was the last of the Final Four matchups, Danny Myers versus Ron Compton. Once in a while, a battle will not only meet the hype around it but also exceed it. This clash smashed every expectation set upon it and may go down as one of the best West Coast battles of 2018.
Priding himself on being unpredictable, Ron Compton was in an entirely different bag on Saturday. In the most significant battle of his career, Ron brought out one of his best performances.
“I tend to reach into a specific bag for my opponent. It varies from opponent to opponent, the level of aggression,” Ron Compton said. “Going up against such an aggressive MC, I knew I had to step it up a notch.”
However, Danny Myers was ready to push back with an epic showing of his own.
One of the most active battlers on the West Coast, there are MCs with twice the amount of battles as Danny Myers but with only half his skill and impact. He’s arguably top five on the West Coast at the moment and has battled everywhere from Smack to AHAT.
And he was in peak form against Ron Compton. With his black hoodie pulled up, the Bar God looked more like the Grim Reaper, which made sense, because was ready to snatch souls during that battle.
The aggression that he brought in the first round almost blew the doors off the venue. As usual with Danny, his aggression and performance are accompanied by unmatched lyrical prowess. Even more impressive, Danny brought the same energy to Ron Compton and the Riot LA that he would show another top tier on Smack.
“When you’re a battler, you’re a battler. You don’t ever really forget where you come from. I will never get to that point where I think someone isn’t worth me battling,” Danny Myers said. “These newer, younger talents are willing to take that battle with me, so I give them the shot because I feel they deserve it.”
However, even in the face of such raw aggression, Ron Compton weathered the storm and more than kept pace with Danny’s performance. Danny, not one to be outdone, never let his foot off the gas pedal and also delivered two more excellent rounds.
Although it was probably unclear who won in the building, this battle should have plenty of replay battle once the footage is released.
Geechi Gotti vs Fixx
The last battle of the night and the Finals battle was a one-rounder between Geechi Gotti and Fixx.
Fixx has been putting in steady work in the Western Conference, but some recent stellar performances have put him on everybody’s watch list. His Proving Grounds battle against Real Name Brandon was hailed as a classic, and he is already set up for another PG on the URL West’s Civil War card in May.
However, Geechi Gotti was his toughest opponent to date. One of the breakout battle rappers of 2017, Geechi’s rise to prominence has been nothing short of miraculous. This battle was a homecoming of sorts for Geechi. The Riot is the league where he made his debut, and this was his first battle since his legal situation in January.
Geechi Gotti went first, his trademark street talk and punchlines reminding everyone why he is considered one of the faces of the Western Conference. He played off a slight stumble later in his round, but it didn’t hinder his performance. Overall, it was an impressive showing for Smack’s West Coast gunner, and it showed that Gotti doesn’t slack for these local matchups.
“Fixx is somebody I came in the game with, so I got a lot of respect for him. I feel like he’s definitely got the talent to take his career to the next level,” Geechi Gotti said. “In the West Coast circuit, he’s one of the doper MCs in my opinion.”
More than anything though, Geechi was just excited to be back battling in his home league in front of his hometown crowd.
That shit feels amazing. I fucks with The Riot. This the home, so I love coming here. The crowd fucks with me every time… it’s like a family affair,” Geechi said.
One of the best West Coast events of the year so far, March Madness is just the beginning for The Riot. With the rest of the year open for business, league executives say they have bigger and better events in store for 2018.
“The rest of the year is going to be crazy… but we got something coming real soon,” said Ron Compton. “We’re getting better every time, and we’re getting better performances from these artists every time.”