4th Annual Bizzil Barfest Recap
By Ethan Peschansky
It’s been almost four years since the West Coast lost one of its brightest young stars. Brandon Fields, aka Young B the Future, was a pioneer who paved the way for the rise of the Western Conference. Although he was taken before his time, Young B’s impact is still felt in Battle Rap.
Even to this day, his resume remains impressive, earning him shots on multiple leagues, an appearance on BET, and the notice of the great Snoop Dogg. But he leaves behind more than just bars and performances. He was a peer and a colleague, a friend and a loved one, an inspiration and an icon.
“He would’ve been the one that had the West Coast shining,” said Danny Myers. “That was the guy who was going to get us there… He was a bigger person than Battle Rap.”
However, instead of dwelling on the loss, the battle rap community created a unique way to pay tribute to Young B. The Bizzil Barfest; an entire day worth of battles all dedicated to one of the greatest MCs who ever lived. Now at its fourth installment, it has turned into one of the most important events on the West Coast.
“This is the fourth one that I’ve done, and every single one gets bigger. It’s something I expect now,” said R&B, AHAT Cali President “I expected it to be crazy and it lived up to every single one of my expectations.”
Located at the Hideaway Cafe in Downtown Riverside, The 4th Annual Bizzil Barfest had all the trappings of a significant battle rap event. Fans came out in the dozens to show support. A score of MCs from different teams and area codes were brought together to battle.
The event was free, although donations were accepted by the Fields family who was also in attendance. These contributions, combined with the revenue gained from the YouTube views and VOD sales, all go towards the Brandon Fields scholarship fund.
“Last year we were able to raise at least $1000,” said Dana Tate, Brandon’s cousin. “This is a domino effect. $5, $3, that matters and that’s going to someone. They’re helping someone get closer to their dreams.”
Also, for the first time, the event was not associated with AHAT. In fact, the Bizzil Barfest was non-league affiliated which allowed MCs without a co-sign or previous battle on AHAT to participate.
As far as the battles themselves went, there were very few disappointments. As is the norm at every Bizzil Barfest, the battlers showed up to perform for a higher purpose.
Nom vs. Matthew
The first battle of the night was a tryout battle between Nom and Matthew. For both MCs, it was their first time on the Bizzil Barfest.
Nom went first and performed decently, although it was Matthew who surprised the crowd with his confidence and conviction. Not only was it Matthew’s first time at the Bizzil Barfest, but it was also his first ever battle.
Off to a strong start to his career, Matthew was humbled by the opportunity and was glad to start the event off on a high note.
“I came the way I came in remembrance of [Young B]. His family is here; his mom’s here, his dad’s here,” Matthew said. “We can’t start this off bad; we got to start this off good.”
Skitz MC vs. KMJ
The next battle was between Skitz MC and KMJ. Both regulars of iEvolve TV, Skitz and KMJ pleased the crowd with jokes and some entertaining bars. The two MCs gave a solid account for themselves in this one round battle.
While both MCs made their moments count, it was Skitz MC’s first appearance on the Bizzil Barfest.
“It’s really an honor to be on it. I was really surprised when I got asked to be on it,” said Skitz. “To be on it was pretty amazing to me.”
Trav Uncut vs. Showcase
Next came the first three-round battle of the night took, Trav Uncut vs. Showkase. The first real back and forth of the night, this was an interesting matchup as both MCs had different strengths and styles.
Trav Uncut was the more lyrical of the two while Showkase was able to please the crowd with his aggression and performance. Although the event didn’t feature too many full battles, this one lived up to its billing as a three-round battle.
Mike Ill vs. Max Taylor
Another three-round matchup, Mike Ill vs Max Taylor continued to set the bar high and was an early contender for battle of the night.
A product of the 2017 class, Mike Ill continued to show growth in his skill set. Although he lost some momentum because of a slip-up, he still turned in an entertaining performance.
On the other side, former Shots Fired Champion Max Taylor had his foot on the gas and didn’t let up. He showed the difference in experience between himself and his opponent early on, showing overall polish and impressive wordplay.
One of the fastest risers on the West Coast scene, this was Max Taylor’s second appearance on the Bizzil Barfest with hopefully more to come.
“On the West, [the Bizzil Barfest] is the only event that matters,” Max Taylor said. “There’s nothing better than coming out here and showing love for Young B and putting on. It’s a great honor just to be invited.”
Yung Pop vs. Chico
One of the more heated local rivalries, Yung Pop and Chico brought one of the most intense battles of the event. Both veterans of the Western Conference and the Bizzil Barfest, this matchup had been a long time coming as both MCs claim the Inland Empire as their home turf.
Yung Pop, well known for his 2 million view battle with Lil Sexxy, went first and was consistent throughout his performance, giving the crowd street bars and rapid punchlines.
Although Chico started off shaky and stumbled in the beginning, he picked up momentum and delivered on some big moments in the later portion of his performance.
Now on his fourth Bizzil Barfest, Chico has seen the event transform from a small room feature into one of the biggest attractions on the West Coast.
“It really is an honor… they fight to get on this card and for me to be on every single Barfest is an honor to me,” Chico said.
KH vs. Danny Myers
This battle was a surprise for multiple reasons. Not only was it not advertised on the event flier, but it was also surprising to see that Danny Myers had agreed to battle twice in a day.
Although if you hear him tell it, two one-rounders in one event is just another day at the office for Danny Myers.
“I’m in such lyrical shape that I can battle multiple guys in a night and beat them,” said Danny Myers. “For me to do one round for two battles is easier.”
As is traditional in every Danny Myers battle, no matter how big or small, he gave his absolute best against his opponent. The Bar God landed punchlines with room shaking frequency.
However, even under such an intense barrage, KH wasn’t phased. Knowing that he couldn’t out-bar the Bar God, KH took a different route. He instead chose to talk directly to Danny, questioning Danny Myers’ ability to represent the West Coast.
Overall, it was a surprise that the fans appreciated and a battle with plenty of highlight reels both MCs could walk away with.
“[Appearing on the Bizzil Barfest] is the most profound and amazing experience an MC from the West Coast can have because Young B meant so much to everybody,” said KH. “If you’re an up-and-comer or somebody that’s looking to make a name for themselves, the Bizzil Barfest is the place where you want to try to be.”
65 Hunnit vs. Vice Versa
The next battle was between 65 Hunnit and Vice Versa. Going up against what may be considered his most experienced opponent to date, Vice Versa visibly struggled. He tried to fight through some slip-ups, but in the end, he couldn’t fully finish his round.
Vice Versa says the issues were partially due to his preparation and the fact that he changed some of his material days before the battle.
“I had changed some of my material because I didn’t think it was enough to beat 65 Hunnit,” said Vice Versa. “I didn’t throw my whole round out… but I probably should’ve stuck to my original material.”
65 Hunnit, on the other hand, capitalized on his opponent’s struggles and delivered a strong performance, landing multiple crowd-pleasing haymakers.
Despite his struggles, Vice Versa says that he took this loss as a learning experience.
“All it did was teach me more lessons from a loss than it did from a win because a win probably would have had me too high on myself,” Vice Versa said. “It built a huge hunger within myself, so I’m looking forward to my next battle.”
Ron Compton vs. Real Name Brandon
A highly anticipated matchup, Ron Compton and Real Name Brandon did what many consider an unthinkable move in battle rap: battling a member of your squad.
Both members of the group Nu Wave, the two MCs wanted the battle to go down in the spirit of the Bizzil Barfest and kept their performances mostly bar-focused. However, they still turned in one of the best battles of the night.
Ron Compton went first and, as always, showed off his unique skill set and stage presence. Now on his third Bizzil Barfest appearance, Ron continues to show his pedigree as one of the best on the West Coast.
“For us to come together like this is beautiful,” Ron Compton said. “It’s a humbling experience to be able to rap with Bizzil’s picture above you on the flier, with his name on there.”
Real Name Brandon wasn’t pulling any punches either and was fully prepared to bar his teammate’s life away. One of the most promising prospects on the West and with his PG with Fixx finally on the URL channel, Real Name Brandon’s stock is on a meteoric climb.
“Ron is different. I’ve never battled anybody like Ron. We’re also from the same squad, so it was more of a friendly fade,” Real Name Brandon said.
However, Ron Compton says that fans shouldn’t be expecting any more Wave on Wave violence anytime soon.
“We don’t get the Barfest every day. I’m not saying we would rule it out, but in most situations, it would be a pretty pricey battle,” Ron said.
Epyk Saga vs. Sonic Soundwaveus
The last of the three-round battles, Epyk Saga vs. Sonic Soundwaveus was one of the most competitive battles of the night. At an event where many were looking forward to seeing the likes of Geechi Gotti, Danny Myers and Daylyt, these two MCs were able to capture the attention of the crowd.
Epyk and Sonic were going back and forth all throughout their battle. Epyk had superior delivery and punchlines, although Sonic was the more lyrical of the two. Overall, it was a very entertaining battle, the type you expect to find at the Bizzil Barfest.
“To be on a Young B card is an amazing opportunity to showcase your talent, not only in front of some of the dopest fans in Battle Rap but also in front of Young B’s family,” Epyk said.
Geechi Gotti vs. Cali Smoov
One of the headliners of the night and also one of the most anticipated battles of the event, Geechi Gotti and Cali Smoov more than lived up to the hype. With both of them at their respective peaks at the moment, this battle had the room constantly shaking.
By now, Battle Rap fans far and wide know that Geechi Gotti is one of the faces of the Western Conference. His success on the URL has turned him from a local favorite into a star in the last year. His battle against Danny Myers at the previous Bizzil Barfest went on to be battle of the night. Even when it looked like Geechi couldn’t surpass that performance, he goes and one-ups himself.
“To be on that card you want to make sure you give 110 percent and put on a show because [Young B] was also a person that put on good shows when he was up there,” Geechi said. “I know the [Fields] family… I always want to make sure I’m holding it down and doing well for their namesake.” Geechi said.
Cali Smoov also came out and gave his absolute best. Coming off his standout battle with TK in March, Smoov improved on his last performance and challenged Geechi bar for bar. It was one of his most intense and energized performances of his career.
“I think calling it epic, or a classic would be an understatement. It was the most intense and electrifying battle that I’ve ever witnessed,” Smoov said. “Being in the room, I’ve never felt an energy like that.”
Off to a crazy start to the year, both MCs have battles already lined up for the future. Cali Smoov just battled Uno Lavoz at the Comedy Store on May 6th and is set to face off against Yung Griz on the URL’s Civil War card two weeks later.
Geechi also finds himself in the most important battle of his career this week. On May 12th he locks horns with renowned battler JC on Born Legacy Supreme 2.
Danny Myers vs. Bobby Lee
The next main event to go down was between two of the Western Conference’s most seasoned MCs: Danny Myers, battling for the second time that night, and Bobby Lee.
As two veterans of the West Coast, these two MCs did not disappoint in their performance. Bobby Lee went first and, like many who face the Bar God, didn’t try to match Danny with bars, but instead went after him with angles both funny and personal.
“I’m going against Danny Myers, the Bar God, all that stuff is real. When you stand in front of him, it’s fucking crazy… but I had some moments in there and some pretty good bars” said Bobby Lee.
Not two hours after battling KH, Danny was back on the main stage and ready to face off against Bobby Lee. If the battle he took earlier affected him, he didn’t show it. Like his previous performance, he brought his A-game for his opponent.
One of the busiest and hardest working battle rappers, Danny Myers is a man on a mission this year and has his eyes set on becoming Champion of the Year for 2018.
“I don’t see anybody else outworking me. The proof is out there. And it’s not just that. Look at the bars I’m saying. Nobody is topping the bars that I’m saying,” said Danny Myers.
K Philosophy vs. Billy Boondocks
Daylyt vs. Shi Dog didn’t end up going down, so Billy Boondocks and K Philosophy had the honor to be the last matchup of the night. Fans huddled around K Philosophy and Billy Boondocks as they spit their rounds. The battle took place in the alley of the original venue, which added another element of authenticity and intrigue to an already interesting battle.
A regular on the Bizzil Barfest, Billy Boondocks was all business, and he went after K Philosophy. His street bars were perfect for the battle’s setting, and he more than met the fans expectations.
K Philosophy went second and, as always, showed off his one of a kind lyrical ability. Although still an up-and-coming MC, he shows confidence and penmanship most veterans of the West wish they had. He was not intimidated in the slightest the change in venue and had one of the best performances of the night.
“Young B was at my first Riot battle, so I was really blessed to get to meet him before he passed,” said K Philosophy. “Just to be able to represent for Bizzil is really important.”
With all the excellent performances at the event, it’s going to be difficult for anyone, even the big leagues, to replicate the type of success that the 4th Annual Bizzil Barfest experienced this year. While other events may have a longer history and more prominent names, no other event in Battle Rap has more significance and meaning behind it.
Although R&B says this was the best and biggest Bizzil Barfest to date, he is confident they will be able to continue to build on the momentum they produce every year.
“I’ve got a couple of participants already that have never done it that want to be involved in the next one, and they’re pretty big names,” said R&B. “In my mind, it’s already bigger.”