ONiT! Caught up with Battle Scars Promoter Lawyer da Black ahead of the first heat of 2010 which takes place tonight in London...
Name: Lawyer Da Black
Occupation: Promoter & Tradesman
Lives: Plaistow, East London
Performance Debut: WKD Open Mic Night, Camden, London – early 1990’s
How would you describe Battle Scars?
An eclectic lyricist tournament. The lyrical version of Enter the Dragon.
What kind of performing artist are you?
I’m not, anymore! When I was younger, at school, I wanted to be a Rapper. So I had to learned to make music and called myself Solo X (X was big in those days). Later I became part of a crew, Third Eye Vision, with Jonzi D, A-Side, Lyrical, Sparkii Ski and others. It was great, but there was no outlet (this was before internet and email lol). Getting a record deal via hip hop was difficult back then. I realised that there is more to the industry and performing, and someone needed to take care of the business side of things, so I took on the responsibility.
Can you tell us how Battle Scars came about?
Originally, in 1998, I set up a record label called Buff Recordings. The 2nd EP, was by Procryptix (Naba and Sparkii Ski). They had a track called Battle Scars which used Kung Fu samples on it. I was at work one day, and I was racking my brain, thinking ‘how can I promote these guys’, and then it came to me, put on an MC battle, call it Battle Scars and get them to host it, so they could do PA’s at the event, and because we were a prodution company, it would bring us MC’s that we could then check out, produce and book to do PA’s at the show also.
When did Battle Scars, the event, come about?
April 2000 at Dingwalls in Camden, North London. Battle Scars was a natural progression after moving from promoting a Sound System then putting on talent shows.
What are your hopes and aspirations for the show?
To have an international lyrcist tournament that is seen as the definitive lyricists tournament as DMC is to turntablism / DJing.
What can artists get out of the combat?
They gain exposure and experience of stage performance – a lot of people think performing on stage is just about rapping, and they don’t know how to put on a show. This tournament test various lyrical and performing disciplines in each round.
What would you say that artists need to be successful in the tournament?
You need to be intelligent; you don’t know who you’re coming up against or what style they’re coming with. They may be a Poet, or a singer, for example. It’s not a cussing match, it’s not about coming up with the most derogatory lyrics and cussing your opponent. It’s about lyrically outshining and defeating your opponent with awesome lyrical style and content. Hence the competition being called lyrical kung fu, it’s like the martial art in adapting your style and using your brain to defeat the other person. Versitility and lyrical dexterity.
Your top 3 artists of all time?
KRS 1 | For his lyrical intelligence and for enlightening and inspiring me with knowledge of self.
Bob Marley | For the amount of tunes that are inspirational to many generations across the board.
Busta Rhymes | For his versitility as an MC. He adapts his style, his voice, his flows and patterns. To suit the beats and mood. He’s a very skilled and talented artist.
Your 3 most memorable artists from Battle Scars to date?
Sway | For using it as a launch pad to help his career. He’s the most intelligent artist in that sense, in that he used the opportunity. He had the most memorable battle too; ‘I take your whole crew and take them for ransom. Bitch you’re so ugly you’re handsome!’ that line blew the roof off! He always smacked up the first round, you knew he was a great artist from the start, before he’d even gone through round two.
Class A | He won the first heat of 2001, the Mictrixs, at Subterania. That heat put Battle Scars on the map. It was such a heavy night, one of my favourites ever. There was a diverse line up, rappers, singers, poets, ragga MC's it was crazy. The final round was Class A and Guvnor, it was like a boxing match, Guvnor was throwing big blows, but then Guvna lost his steam and Class A came back with a vengence and lyrically beat him to the ground.
Grimlock | He was at the very first Battle Scars in 2000. He was whopping off MC’s heads like Highlander, until the final when Warren Justice (formally known as CR) killed him with a blow to the toe and mentioned a hole in Grimlock’s shoe and it was over.
What can the audience expect?
No matter what age, where you’re from, male or female, you get the excitement of a heavyweight title fight, jokes to buss your belly and a friendly atmosphere. Even though it’s an MC battle, everyone is on a nice vibe. When you look into the crowd, you just see the most smiles, everyone loves the vibe – no anymosity, no fake attitudes, it’s all love. A night of sheer entertainment, excitement, fun and laughter.
What advice would you give to a wannabe battle MC?
It’s not all about derogatory foolish lyrics, it’s about rocking the mic. About who’s the best MC/Rapper. They shouldn’t be fooled into thinking it’s a cussing match. You need to be able to flow and entertain. Battling started way before 8 Mile.
How can artists get involved in performing or taking part in a battle?
Log onto the website and read the 'Rules of Combat' and 'How to Enter'. http://www.battlescars.co.uk
What other projects do you have coming up?
Under 18’s tournament called Rattle Scars – the junior version of Battle Scars
Teaching young people event management, filming, editing, etc to keep the scene alive.
Anything else you want to let the people know?
We need to get back to intelligent lyrics; tunes with verses not just chorus’. The commercialisation of our music promoting gangsters and hoes seem to be infiltrating the minds of young people. I was fortunate enough to grow up to more conscious artists when I was growning up, which helped me and in many ways and stopped me from going to jail. You don’t hear music like that anymore without searching for it.
Battles Scars 2010 Heat 1 (London & South East) kicks off tonight at:
The Jamm (Brixton)
261 Brixton Road Brixton, London SW9 2LH
Battles backed by a live band!!!
*£100 to the winner*
Entrance: £5 in advance | £10 on the door
Tickets: Ticket Web on 08444 771 000 or