The feud between Eastcoast/Westcoast hip hop artists in the 90s is probably one of the most legendary rap battles to date, but the one being hosted this Saturday at Little Mountain Gallery is set to be a lot less dreary and is bound to produce a lot more laughs. Local improvisor Taz Van Rassel has borrowed RappBattlez from the popular Toronto comedy night, in which performers take on hip hop personas and battle it against one another with their rhymes.
The original Eastcoast event, produced by the Rivas brothers, has been regularly running at Toronto’s Comedy Bar for the last two years and was even nominated for a Canadian Comedy award for best live show. Van Rassel performed at the night on a recent trip there and was impressed by how involved the audience got.
“It’s like watching a wrestling match,” he says.
Sometimes the opponents (which are personas, remember) make sense (John Lennon vs. Yoko Ono) and sometimes they’re a wee bit more abstract (Euro cup vs. a landlord).
Those battling also dress up in costumes, have entourages and are introduced with music to hype up their performance.
It should be noted that the raps aren’t freestyled. In fact, they are all pre-written, and opponents are even allowed to meet prior to the show to rehearse. But watching the performers and how focused they are on taking down their opponents, it’s easy to forget the whole thing is staged – not unlike wrestling. In the end, the audience gets to decide who wins.
There will be 12 rappers at this battle, including some of the city’s top comedians like Dave Shumka, Alicia Tobin and Charlie Demers. Some of the teams that will be going head to head include bon cop vs. good cop, milk vs. cookies and a guidance councilor vs. a typewriter.
Van Rassel will be hosting the show alongside Ryan Beil, who we’ve written about before.
RappBattlez takes place at Little Mountain Gallery, 195 E 26th Ave. on Feb. 2
Admission is $8, show starst at 9 p.m.