The best freestyle battlers in the country Saturday squared off in The Dome at Moto Republik for the inaugural Bata Mic Rap Battles.
Battling has gone from a niche interest to an important part of hip-hop culture and scores gathered to witness the certification of a word master.
USD100 was on the line and so were the bragging rights.
Amongst some of the attendees were music producers, singers, rappers and fans alike.
In between the battles were cyphers with performances from Flexo, ProBeatz, Soko Matemai, Tulk Money and many others.
One of the organisers Munya Bloggo explained how the idea was birthed.
“Bezaleel Mhako and l decided to do this as a way of ensuring that we have a diverse set of events where artists can showcase their talent. I pledged 100 USD every month for the rest of the year for battle mics. Moto Republik donated the sound system and venue,” he said.
“Noble Stylz suggested the name. And the guys in The Hub WhatsApp group pushed to make it happen. DJ Krimz volunteered to be the DJ. Noble was nominated to be the MC and people pledged their skills EPKs, Beats, Apparel and studio time.”
After a long and gruesome battle, it was 20-year-old Dalitso Ndlovu going by the name Illuminates who emerged champion.
He faced stiff competition in the finals from Dough Major real name Tatenda Maguta who looked like he was running away with the crown until he was pipped in the final round.
For Illuminates, it was more of an experiment more than it was experience. He says he is not a natural rapper but is a gifted poet.
“I work for an NGO and I’m in a department that promotes creativity and mental health, in terms of the creative aspect I’m more of a philosophical poetic vibe so I thought i should try rap since they are all part of the culture,” he told Zimbuzz.
“My winning the battle means that art is something that can be cross-pollinated between people.
“A lot of rappers think poetry is too bourgie, a lot of poets think rap is too ghetto and too street, but I’m here to show that we can bridge a gap between these two extremes and create something for the love of art,” he added
Munya Bloggo said they expected to do this every month for the rest of the year and the next battle prize is already up to 120 USD and they expected more people to come on board.
“The next battle is on 21 March and you can expect DJ Fafi and Kikky Badass to be front and centre,” he told Zimbuzz.
“I think the initial event was a dry run. Testing out the format. Seeing the appetite of the audience and seeing what works. You can expect a lot of content to come out and 10 more editions.
“Rap Battles will become a league. We are engaging sponsors and we are grateful for the stakeholders that came on board. The next event will definitely feature a combination of Zim HipHop icons, more visual elements, and a more polished presentation.
“Our goal is to get artists paid. To get them booked for shows and to give them a platform to sharpen their skills.”