With the rise in popularity, Don’t Flop has become one of the largest fields of Hip Hop entertainment in the UK. Since battle rappers Eurgh & Cruger decided to set up the league in 2009, the Youtube channel has reached over 30 million video views and over 100,000 subscribers. We were lucky enough to grab a quick interview with the Head of the Don’t Flop Blog, Bentlegs.
Obviously the scene has recently shot up in viewing figures, what was it like when you first joined the DF team?
I first joined the team in early 2012, so just over a year now. In the last twelve months we’ve grown massively in terms of subscribers and views, I remember being at the TTTT event in Leeds in February last year, and the Mark Grist v Blizzard battle was just starting to go viral, and we were buzzing about it, all excited like “Imagine if this actually got to one million views!” And now it’s well over three million, it’s crazy. I’d been following DF for a long while before joining the team, and I remember when battles getting 50k was rare and a really big deal, nowadays a lot of try-out battles can easily get that amount in a short amount of time.
How do you think this has changed now, what do you feel has improved and what has declined, in terms of say content or the fans ECT?
I think over the past year or so, fans seem to have ‘matured’ a bit, for want of a better word. 2011 was when Lunar C was everyone’s favourite, and it was very much a jokes orientated scene, for the most part. That started to fizzle out last year and battles started to become more ‘bars’ orientated. I don’t really like this ‘bars Vs jokes’ argument to be honest. I don’t see them as exclusively different; you get good jokes and bad jokes, and good bars and bad bars. It’s ‘good Vs bad’, for me, really. Anyway, I digress. 2012 became the year of the ‘scheme’ I think, with wordplay becoming a dominant feature. I think with Tony D doing so well and becoming many people’s favourite, and then taking the title from Oshea kind of showed that. It was reflective of how the scene seemed to be shifting, with bars overtaking jokes.
The fans, for the most part, seem to be a lot more educated now, and appreciate writing a lot more. They understand multis and appreciate good wordplay. I’m not saying that they didn’t before, but it just seems to be a talking point a lot more lately. One thing that really annoys me though is when people talk more about a judging decision more than they talk about a battle! If a battle is close, and the battler that you thought should win, didn’t, it doesn’t make it a robbery. It’s opinion at the end of the day, and somebody not having the same as yours doesn’t make them wrong, or mean that they’re clueless. Especially as MOST judging these days is given with a good reason and explanation.
How did you first get involved in the DF staff?
I was on a journalism course last year, and wasn’t really enjoying what I was constantly writing about. It was mostly local news and things like that, stuff that I got told to write about. I wanted to do a blog, but theme it about something that I like, rather than just another ranting, Charlie Brooker-esque blog, there’s plenty of them already. I’d been following DF for a while, and had been to a few events through 2011, and couldn’t find a DF-specific blog, or battling in general to be honest. I decided to start up my own blog, which was originally called ‘Bentlegs Battles’ haha! I showed Eurgh and asked if he liked the idea. Turns out he did, and I ended up running the official blog. From there, one thing led to another. The blog took a bit of a hiatus really, and I started doing a lot more behind the scenes kind of things, and helping out with events and organising. Now I’m currently working on a lot of new things for the website and blog, organising my first event, which is in Liverpool, as well as a lot of other things.
Where do you see the scene headed in the next 18 months, in terms of expansion & fan base?
The scene seems to be expanding rapidly. Our YouTube channel is now on over 100k subscribers and is steadily rising. I think it has been exposed to a much wider audience than just hip hop. A lot of people where I’m from that I have never known to be remotely interested are always talking to me in the pub or in the street about battles, I’m getting texts from people that I went to school with, asking how I could have voted for Tony D over Arkaic and things like that, it’s crazy. As you might have seen, we’ve got a huge event later this month, arguably our best card ever, and it’s at Ministry Of Sound, which as an internationally known venue. Hopefully the scene as a whole will continue to grow, and more and more fans will want to go to live events.
A lot of unexpected celebrities and big names in music have shown interest in DF, with people like James Arthur from X Factor, and One Direction saying they watch battles. A lot of hip hop heads probably don’t like that those kind of guys watch battling, but really, it kind of demonstrates the wide appeal of battling and the varied potential audience.
On a personal note, who are your top 3 battlers worldwide?
This kind of question is difficult to answer, because there are so many great battlers around. Also, working for DF and being friends with most of the roster, I do have a perhaps slightly biased view! These are my three favorites, not necessarily the most technical or whatever, before people jump on me for that!
Oshea. He has always been my favorite battler. He is so funny and entertaining, and over the past 18 months or so he seems to have battled less often than he used to, but when he has, he’s been on top form. Plus he’s a big Evertonian, like myself.
Tony D. If we allow for his not to great recent battle in Canada’ he’s had a pretty much flawless twelve months, and has the best wordplay in DF right now.
Bender. I was at the Vendetta event in LA last year (yeah, for THAT battle!), and Benders performance against Syd Vicious was one of the best performances I have ever witnessed live. He’s always been good, but seeing that blew me away.
Finally what do we have to look forward to from DF in the coming months?
We’ve got a lot going on! The Checkpoint event later this month is huge; hopefully we can get a few more events of that stature in this year. Last year the 4th birthday event was amazing, but we’re looking to make it bigger and better this time around. We’re doing a lot of bars and music videos at the moment, which are a nice addition to the channel, going alongside the battles in the schedule. We will definitely be doing another tour or two this year, like the “In The House Tour” that we did, and are going to make it as ridiculous as possible! I’m really looking forward to planning that and going out and about for a little while.
Be sure to purchase your tickets for the upcoming “Checkpoint” event at ministry of sound on the 27th of April from the link below.