A rap competition turned from an exchange of lyrical jabs to literal fists at an event held on Saturday in Penticton.
RCMP said they were called around 10 p.m. to the 200 block of Main Street when a witness saw two males starting to fight on the street in front of Fibonacci’s Roastery and Café.
“There was a large group of people gathered outside Fibonacci’s and we were advised they were having a rap-off and one of the groups took exception to what one of the people was rapping about him. The two went outside to fight and then they were separated,” said Sgt. Rick Dellebuur, who added no charges were laid.
Owners of the Penticton-based Mad Melody Records, who had been presenting the Topic Rap Battles monthly at local live music venues since April, said up until this event they had been successful.
“We regret that the battles had to end on a sour note. Mad Melody Records worked hard to build this league and is ashamed it got out of hand,” said owner Harley Pyrozyk.
In the competitions, artists would each get a specific amount time to rap on pre-determined topics, and in a freestyle round the opportunity to insult their opponent with rhymes. The rappers would go head-to-head and were judged on a 30-point scale system. Saturday was supposed to be the championship battle at Fibonacci’s. Pyrozyk said the competitors involved in the fight were disqualified.
“It only takes two people to lose sight that these events are for fun and entertainment purposes, we instated these events to showcase local hip-hop artists and to build their freestyle skill, however, it’s unfortunate they could not keep cool, and it ultimately had to lead into beef and drama,” said Pyrozyk.
While the record/production company told the Western News in April that the rap battles were designed to create something for youth in the community and focused on creating a stronger hip hop scene in the Okanagan, the events did invite the opportunity for artists to sling mud at one another. Several of the competitors took this outside of the actual events and posted videos and recordings designed to insult one another, some of these were posted on the Mad Melody Records website.
As a result of the fight, Pyrozyk said Mad Melody Records have cancelled the rap battles. He said if they do bring back the competition, it would be rebranded to showcase artists who would freestyle on just the pre-determined topics.
The Mad Melody owner said he doesn’t expect any repercussions for their local shows, with their own artists performing as opposed to the battle events where any artist could sign up.
“Our goal is to avoid drama and present true hip hop, but due to inflated egos the event ended with negativity. We apologize to any audience that was only there for entertainment and had their night end poorly,” said Pyrozyk. “I hope this does not affect the relationship MMR has established with the community. This is not the image we want to brand ourselves with.”