Some say battle rap is deceased. Dead. Buried. Enter Scrambles 4 Money, here talk is cheap. South Africa’s latest freestyle battle league has heads all over talking. Featuring battles between cats from every corner of our Mzansi land, the variety is stellar. We caught up with the founder Dave (Gin I Grindith) and he told us more…
Um….pretty much just an MC.
When did ‘Scrambles For Money’ start?
It started in August last year (2012). It was held at a venue called ‘Talk is Cheap’ with a couple of battles on the night.
Why the name ‘Scrambles For The Money’?
The phrase was taken from a song (Mobb Deep’s ‘Eye For An Eye’). It’s about battling for money. If you’re good enough to win then you just take the cash. It’s just an initiative to push the battle circuit and the culture but also cats getting paid for what they do.
Before Scrambles For Money, there hasn’t really been something of this kind. Why is that, in your opinion?
Some people did try before but it never got to this level. Really, it is not as easy as it looks.
Are the battles pre-written? And why?
Yes, they are. We encourage the guys to write their stuff. We are not really going to pay you to come and freestyle as it can get boring and monotonous. I know a lot of people say may be the culture of freestyle battle is dying because we encourage written stuff but it’s more about giving the people something entertaining and worth paying for.
Is there a screening process for a cat who wants to participate?
Yes, there is. We normally give them a young cat; an up and coming cat to go against. People talk a lot of sh*t online like they will kill anyone but when you give them a battle it’s a different story. So yeah, the the screening is through ‘The draft league’.
When it comes to the more established names like your Hymphatic Thabzs, your Tumis etc, are those MCs you invite or they also approach you?
Yeah, we want them to battle. We wanna get them to come and battle so yeah, we approach them. We’ve approaced everyone, pretty much.
Is the whole initiatve going as you expected it to?
Yeah, it can only grow. It’s going well pretty much. Like now we have this competiton where the winner of the finals in June goes to Canada, goes to battle in Canada in August at World Domination.
Looking at some battles, some people are not satisfied with the results. For instance, the Tumi vs One L battle, we had a reasonable number of people who felt One L should have won. Why don’t you let the crowd judge?
It can switch to a favour of one person on a very biased level. The majority of the crowd, first of all is drunk. There’s battles that you watch where the crowd is going really crazy and when you watch afterwards, editing, you’re like it isn’t really what everyone made it to be. You cannot let a crowd judge a battle. We make sure the judges have no affiliation with anyone competing.
So far, what has been the biggest challenge for Scrambles For Money?
Just keeping quality battles, um…entertaining battles, um…and just getting to keeping it alive.
I think the material is too harsh and we are not prepared to dumb it down. I mean, we did have a potential big sponsor but we turned them away because we were not willing to compromise anything.
Speaking of that, have you tired getting ‘Scrambles For Money’ on TV?
We are still trying to sort some sh*t like that. We’ve had ideas but I’m kind of a one man team at the moment. We’ve been running for a year and still no cash coming in and cats don’t really wanna work like that. I’m kind of like the only one really pushing it right now.
Has there been a battle where you were like “I regret putting this cat on”?
Not really. As much as everyone hates on King Key-la, it was actually entrtaining. When you watch the battle again, it was really funny. He’s gonna be battling again on the 9th but in ‘The draft league’. Yeah, I think for me, the biggest thing that cats need to watch is just choking. If you have ample time like you have two months to prepare, you shouldn’t be choking.
Moving away from ‘Scrambles For Money’, could you take us through your shop, Greyscale
It’s a Grafitti shop, man, Greyscale. It’s not even a 9 to 5, this sh*t doesn’t pay us. It’s just there to keep the grafitti culture alive
What do you think of the current hip hop scene in SA?
It’s cool, man. It’s growing. I’m no longer into it as much as I was, like going to each and every session. I just chill and try to push the battles and working on labels and then I can start putting stuff out. I’m tired of going to gigs with sh*tty sound. It’s been like that since when we started out and that was like 20 years ago. There’s still no change and doing that sh*t for so many years, it gets discouraging. Apart from that, it’s picking up.
And stereotypically, ‘old school’ cats and backpackers, usually have counteractive opinions on the mainstream. What’s your take?
I don’t know. I probably have more issues with backpackers. I don’t see any difference between commercial hip hop and waht these hipsters are doing. It’s all faggotism. It’s just about making true music, it’s about creating a sound, it’s not really just about what you saying but creating a sound with feeling. You’re not gonna be able to listen to the shit that’s playing on the radio in ten years time. It has a short life period, it has a shelflife. I just wanna make the type of music I wanna make.
So what can we expect from you?
Not much, man. I haven’t had time to like really do anything but I’ll be doing some work with cats from The States, we’ve been doing some recording. When it’s done it’s done. I’m not one of those people that feel they have to release an album every year. I’d rather put out a quality album that people will remember me for for years than one that will be forgotten by the time you release your next one a few months after your previous one.
Any last words?
The 9th of June, it’s the finals. It’s a whole day event, happening here at the store (Greyscale), upstairs, downstairs and the parking lot. We’ll have a braai, DJs and a lot of battles.