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BOTZ8: Dirtbag Dan Brings Battle Rap Back

In Music
ZAE MAN: ‘Dirtbag’ Dan Martinez says battle rap is alive and well in San Jose.

ZAE MAN: ‘Dirtbag’ Dan Martinez says battle rap is alive and well in San Jose.

Just last month, Joshua “Mad Illz” Carrasco—founder of the Grind Time rap battle league—decided to sell his once-dominant platform. This report came coupled with the news that Carrasco didn’t have much confidence in the art form and the industry it spawned. “Battle rap is dying,” he said. “Dirtbag” Dan Martinez begs to differ.

The veteran battle rapper, hip-hop artist and standup comedian is the founder of his own off-top tournament, Battle of the Zae, which returns for its eighth installment this weekend to prove how wrong Carrasco is. Martinez speaks passionately about BOTZ and the way he aims to move the format forward—by borrowing from professional wrestling.

“No other league does an organized royal rumble, where you’ve got six people going against each other,” Martinez says, referring to the circular six-man bout—the “Caddy Royale”—which will serve as the centerpiece of this BOTZ.

Martinez goes on to explain how the structure will shake things up and throw the contest wide open: “This way they can decide if they want to spend all their time going off on one person or if they want to try and take five people all at once,” he says.

One rapper who will take part in the rumble is Detroit legend Marv Won, who once got to light Eminem up on the set of 8 Mile back in the day.

Showpieces aside, the lineup is stacked with matchups made specifically to pit styles against one another. One headliner match will feature Los Angeles veteran The Saurus going up against fresh Hollister rapper Reverse Live. Martinez says pitting two emcees from opposite ends of the status spectrum is what will make the battle worth watching.

“Reverse Live is a rookie and The Saurus is the vet, so this is a shot for someone who hasn’t had the opportunity yet, but has shown over and over that he’s ready for it,” Martinez explains. BOTZ 8 will also feature two international rappers—London-based Micky Worthless and Vocab Bahamas who’s from, you guessed it, the Bahamas.

This BOTZ also holds the distinction of being held in honor of Cadalack Ron, another well-known battler who died away last year.

The one who comes out on top here will walk away with a cool $2,500. Though according to Martinez, most aren’t here for the money.

“A lot of these guys are used to getting like five thousand to do one battle,” Martinez says. “They’re here for other reasons.” Many are coming through just to show love for the event, to the other veterans that will be in attendance or just to support the local scene.

Battle of the Zae
Jul 28-29, 2pm, $25
BackBar SoFa, San Jose

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