“It was like a movie,” Dizaster excitedly says of his battle against Canibus. Last year, Dizaster faced off against Can-I-Bus himself, whom many deemed a lyrical monster. Canibus had battled LL Cool J and survived to become one of the most revered lyricists of the late ‘90s. Though time had passed and his light had somewhat faded, Canibus was still a major draw in the battle culture, a world that was gaining momentum. The moment was Canibus’ to capture. Instead, he fell apart.
Pardon that. He fell to pieces, and along with him, many of his fans’ dreams were shattered. Canibus entered the venue with an injured arm, a sling and a dazed smile. He trudged through a muddy first round in the battle before doing the unthinkable. He took out his notebook, saying he was going to read his rounds from it. As mentioned, he fell to shreds. And it all happened in front of Dizaster.
It was at this time that some asked, “Who is Dizaster?” But others, those in tune with the Battle Rap culture, knew exactly who Canibus lost to that night.
Dizaster is one of the most celebrated professional battlers from Los Angeles, California. He started out battling on local streets, eventually hitting up battle tournaments, freestyling and attacking opponents throughout the county. His rise on GrindTimeNow.net earned notoriety as the battle culture grew into a YouTube phenomenon. But the spotlight shined brightest when Drake appeared on Toronto’s King of the Dot (KOTD) battle event to host and judge a battle between Dizaster and Queens, New York’s DNA. With the spotlight on them, Dizaster and DNA delivered one of KOTD’s most viewed and acclaimed battles, making Drake call it a draw.
Since then, Dizaster says he and Drake have become “close” friends. Their friendship is one that showcases how much the Battle Rap culture is growing in notoriety. While Dizaster and Drake are shaking hands and giving one another respect on and off camera, the battle world is continuing to grow in other ways. As HipHopDX’s Editor in Chief Justin Hunte wrote about in September of last year, the battle culture has gone on to earn a “secret success” of sorts. Dizaster is in the center of that ring, looking around from GrindTime to King of the Dot to now, SMACK/URL, The Ultimate Rap League.
Today, Dizaster is also in the center of Battle Rap controversy. At his last battle, a crowd booed him in Toronto, a place that he likens to his “second home.” Dizaster was set to reveal information that would prove his opponent was a “fraud” that purchased verses for battles. His plans were derailed in front of Drake as the crowd began heckling Diz. When fans started booing, Diz says he was caught off guard, causing him to change his delivery and content and eventually lose the battle and the championship chain. But the controversy hasn’t calmed Dizaster down. Instead, it seems to have fueled him.
HipHopDX caught up with Dizaster to talk about his alliance with Drake and the respect he’s gotten from Eminem, B-Real, Mac Miller, Q-Tip and Crooked I. He also spoke about his recent KOTD controversy, a television program he’s pitching and why he feels “Meek Mill ain’t jumpin’ in any type of ring.”
Dizaster On Friendship With Drake And His KOTD Battle With Arcane
HipHopDX: A lot of the conversation leading up to your latest battle was about Drake’s involvement. This is the second battle of yours that he’s attended. How would you describe your relationship with Drake?
Dizaster: Drake is really supportive of what we do. He’s very in tune with real lyricism, on the contrary to what is projected and what people may think of him as a mainstream dude. He really has his roots stuck to that, and he really cares about where lyrics come from. I’d say me and him are super close friends. He’s a good dude...There’s definitely a mutual respect level between us.
DX: What did he say about the outcome of the battle?
Dizaster: We didn’t talk about the outcome. We actually showed up together. He came and swooped me up from my spot. We hit the venue together, and then a lot of shit happened at the venue. So we went separate ways, and I didn’t get to talk to him. But I’m pretty sure he didn’t care much about the outcome. It didn’t really faze him. He knew what I was going to do. On the way there, I showed him and his boys all the Facebook messages and the PayPal statements. Everyone was super excited. It was supposed to go a certain way, and it went the complete opposite. It’s pretty shocking for everybody. I’m pretty sure he was uncomfortable during the battle, which sucks.
DX: Can you describe your thought process from when you entered the battle venue until the battle began? What were you thinking, and how did that all play out?
Dizaster: I was really comfortable, getting ready to kill it. I noticed people were disrespectful, so I was little worried. But even when people are usually disrespectful, they always shut up during my battles so I didn’t even worry about it, really. I was comfortable, getting ready to just kill this guy and end his career forever.
DX: So the battle takes place. What are you thinking during the battle?
Dizaster: That’s the key question to ask. That’s the key explanation to why my performance wasn’t as good as it was supposed to be. It’s because I was shocked. I was confused. I was startled. I never get thrown off. I can hang with any crowd in the world. Everybody knows. It doesn’t matter if someone boos me. So to get thrown off that hard...I was thinking in two different places. I wasn’t there rapping anymore. I was rapping just so I didn’t choke. I continued rapping, but my brain was somewhere else. I was asking myself questions like, “How is this happening? What did he do? Why is this going down?” I didn’t get it. It was really confusing.
DX: People have seen you respond well to booing in the past. For example, in your battle with Swave Sevah. What in particular made this one so different?
Dizaster: I couldn’t really think while I was rapping. They took me out of the game completely. I couldn’t think while I was rapping. It was the weirdest thing ever. Trust me. Even if a crowd boos, I can think over them. But when you’re confused and thinking this shit in your head, there’s no way. My delivery was off. Everything was fucked up. It affects every part of your performance. It sucks that it had to happen. But now I’m ready for anything. It’s a learning experience, if anything. I’ve now seen it all. I’ve now had people booing me before I even started rapping. I never even thought that was possible.
DX: Especially in Toronto, right?
Dizaster: Yeah, where it’s like my second home. That’s the thing. If they booed me like that in New York, I would have been ready for it. Even though, in New York, they wouldn’t even do that. They’re real ass motherfuckers in New York. They give people a chance to rap. But even if they do it in New York, I’m going to New York and I’m ready to have people talk shit to me. That’s what the general consensus is, that I’m not welcome but it’s really the opposite. But let’s say that was the case—that I wasn’t welcome—I would be ready for it. It’s not like coming to something where you’re welcome. It’s like walking into a trap, bro. I thought this was a trap. I didn’t know what to think. I started thinking people were setting me up. I started thinking too much shit, bro.
DX: What do you say to Arcane once the cameras shut off?
Dizaster: I didn’t say anything to him. Organik had to force me to shake his hand. He asked me about seven or eight times to shake his hand. I’m normally the nicest dude when it comes to sportsmanship. I love everybody. At a battle, I love everybody. I will shake their hand and hug them after a battle. I don’t give a fuck because it’s all love. It’s all sport. It’s just that, in this case and scenario, I just had zero respect for the guy. And there’s nothing he could ever do to make me respect him. Even if he wins a million battles and sells more records than Eminem, I’ll still think he’s a faggot. There’s nothing he could do. That’s basically what it was. I shook his hand at the end because they made it uncomfortable. They started to make a scene of out it. It started looking as if I was salty about me not winning. I didn’t give a fuck. I already knew that was going to happen. It’s not like I wasn’t ready for it.
To be honest with you, I didn’t know because I thought I was going to completely murder him. But I knew in the back of my head that I was going to lose that chain, because I’m not from Canada. It was just set up for me to end up losing it. Winning it is like a curse because it’s a guaranteed loss one day. That’s why certain people don’t want to take the chain. If you’re American and you take the chain, it means a guaranteed loss one day. It doesn’t matter.
DX: You didn’t get to exchange words after the cameras shut off?
Dizaster: He kept on trying to talk to me. He would say, “I’ll give you a rematch.” His friend was like, “I swear Caustic didn’t help him write this one!” I didn’t know what they were trying to say. I didn’t give a fuck. I wasn’t sitting there ready to bitch about it. I was cool, bro. It wasn’t a big deal to me at that point. I was like, “Alright, he won. Cool.” But I knew at the end of the day that he took the chain and was depressed as fuck. That’s why I didn’t give a fuck.
I was happy when the battle finished. I went out and partied after that. I didn’t give a fuck. I knew he was depressed as hell. I got my job done. My job was to expose him more than winning. If I won and didn’t expose him, I would have been a sad person. The whole battle would not have meant shit to me. The only reason I was excited about this battle was because I could tear someone down like that; that’s a disgrace to what we do, the art we do. I felt like I was doing the universe a job, like I was doing everybody a good deed by doing this battle. My job was done. I fucking lost, but I took him with me. I’ve been hearing from fans and comments that, “Dizaster may have lost the battle but he won the war.”
DX: What did you think about the judges’ decision? What did you say to them that day?
Dizaster: I didn’t give a fuck about the judges. People think that I got robbed. People even think that the judges’ decision was wrong. But at the end of the day, I don’t blame the judges for any decision they made. The whole battle was influenced by the crowd and Arcane’s fraudulent facade. It was tainted. The battle was tainted from the beginning. They weren’t going to be able to make a correct decision. Arcane ended his verse last. It was fresh in their heads. He ended with some corny shit. He just delivered it and everyone reacted to it.
DX: How does Organik feel about the situation? What has he told you?
Dizaster: I know he’s upset, but I really don’t know what type of moves they’re gonna make. So I can’t speak on it. But I know he’s not happy about it.
DX: What is he more mad about, the battle or the exposing?
Dizaster: I don’t think he cares so much about the battle. I think he cares more that fraudulent shit has been brought the table.
The Evolution Of Battle Rap And Dizaster’s SMACK/URL Debut
DX: You’re making the transition now into the URL. What do you feel is the biggest difference between the URL and KOTD?
Dizaster: Different people, man…different cultures, different type of upbringing, different types of interests in life, different types of hobbies, different types of everything. It’s just different. We all do the same thing. At the end of the day, everybody’s a battle rapper, but it’s a completely different element. It’s like one of them are aquatic mammals, and the other are mammals on land. It’s not the same. A movie reference you can make to a Canadian crowd or a King of the Dot crowd, you can be making a reference to a movie that no one in URL has ever watched because it’s a different demographic. [It could be a] stupid movie that no one would watch, maybe. That movie will get you a great reaction in front of people for making a reference to it. But if you say it in front of a crowd that doesn’t know, there you go, you’re left with nothing. It is what it is. It’s the same vice versa. You can mention something in front of a URL crowd, but a bunch of cats from GrindTime or King of the Dot may not get that shit, so you just have to know the best of both worlds. You gotta know how both worlds operate. That comes from growing up around both worlds, not just trying to transition and go into both worlds.
This is me transitioning to SMACK, but this ain’t my transition into street battling. This ain’t my transition around an urbanized culture or a culture that’s just strictly Hip Hop. But at the end of the day, I’m diverse as fuck. I fit everywhere in the planet, so I don’t feel I have a place where I don’t fit. URL, to me, is going to be another part of me that I’m exercising. I can’t wait. It’s one of my favorite styles. It’s a completely different approach and I prefer to do that most of the time, to be honest with you. So I’m gonna be comfortable as fuck. It’s not like I’m going to change. I’m just going to have to do what I usually do. You know what I mean? It’s gonna be fuckin’ fun as fuck.
DX: Do you feel like you were in that pocket when you battled Swave Sevah and DNA, who are both from New York, or is this going to be a new Diz?
Dizaster: It’s probably going to be a completely new Diz. But yeah, it’s kind of like the Swave Sevah shit. And if you go back, people can find my battles from back in the day in Santa Monica, when we were doing street battles in Culver City [California]. That syle is just metaphors and raw shit. It’s just everything, man. It’s the full package, man. It’s the complete me. Whatever you see on URL is going to be the complete version of me. Everything that makes me, I will do it on the stage. I’m not gonna hold back.
DX: I believe your first battle, versus T-Rex, will now be in March, right?
Dizaster: Nah. It’s probably going to be in April, to be honest with you.
DX: What’s been holding up the battle’s rescheduling after the cancelation?
Dizaster: I don’t really know. We want to do a big event for our battle. I’m not gonna do the battle in no small room.
Dizaster’s Battle Origins, Praise For His Peers And A-List Co-Signs
DX: You talked about your background battling and your street battles. I remember when you battled at The Basement in Sherman Oaks [California].
Dizaster: Hell yeah!
DX: You had freestyle battles there. Now they hold written battles. How has the culture evolved in Battle Rap from freestyles about someone you didn’t know to picking up a pen and taking months to craft rounds?
Dizaster: It’s evolved and devolved. It’s an interesting question. People have their opinions, but there’s a fact that remains that it did both. It evolved in a sense, because it’s not filler freestyles that are observational about your opponent’s appearance. Now it’s more in-depth with concepts and lines that have advanced. Now, everything has been said and done, so you have to be 1,000 times smarter. It’s evolved way beyond what they used to do back in the day. It’s almost like cavemen to Martians.
But at the same time, the emcee himself devolved. What happened to the emcee when this happened is, they lost their ability to improvise. They lost the ability to just...to just be an emcee. I don’t know how to explain it. It’s all monotone performances and even if it’s not monotone, it’s practiced, rehearsed plays. It’s like a movie. It’s like 8 Mile. 8 Mile was a great movie but that never happened in real life. It was scripted. So, you look at certain things, and there’s only a handful of rappers today that have kept up that form of emceeing to put everything together, combined.
DX: Who do you feel they are?
Dizaster: Me, Thesaurus, Hollow Da Don, DNA and Charron. Charron is the only Canadian like that. As far as Canada, he’s the complete package, because the dude can do anything. Regardless of how you feel about his style or how he comes across, at the end of the day, he’s a full package rapper. He knows how to do everything. It’s the same with DNA, Thesaurus, Hollow and me. I don’t know. Maybe I’m missing a couple, but for the most part, that’s it right now. That’s pretty much it, bro. Like, everybody else...they just can’t do it [laughs]. They just can’t. I don’t know how to explain it, bro. They can’t just come there and just rap. They can’t be caught slippin’ and be able to put together verses on the spot. Those people I just named, chances are that if you try to run up on them out of nowhere, they’ll be able to diss you on the spot. Same thing with me. I’ll tear someone apart if they try to run up on me and just try to bombard me. I’m not one of those guys that has to schedule it a month in advance. That’s where you lost the emceeing, and that’s where it devolved. It’s an interesting topic and definitely something people should pay attention to. It’s really facts. I hope more rappers start trusting their skill more and rely on more magic to happen during the battle. There’s no more triumph in the fight.
And part of the devolving happened where now there are promo battles. So now people don’t even judge battles no more. They’re scared to judge battles. I’m one of the few cats today that still has battles judged…who is top tier. There’s a lot of battles being judged but none of them are huge battles. I’m one of the only rappers out there that will have battles judged at the level where I’m at as far as popularity and achievements in Battle Rap.
DX: We already spoke on Drake but you’ve had several other big names co-sign you from B-Real & Immortal Technique to Mac Miller…
Dizaster: Yeah, man. All these cats and there’s a lot more. Q-Tip shouted me out. I’ve never even met him, but that was a major honor. These newer kids don’t even know A Tribe Called Quest, which is funny to me; but that’s super important to me. Method Man, Raekwon...Wyclef’s a fan. I’ve talked to him. D-12. I hear Eminem is a huge fan of mine. I’ve never even met most of these cats. Even Kevin Durant and Ron Artest [Metta World Peace]. I’ve talked to him a gang of times. All these cats cosign this shit. B-Real, Chino XL, Crooked I, Royce Da 5’9. All of these cats are super supportive of this shit.
DX: What have they all shared with you about the game or about their respect for you?
Dizaster: I’ve talked to Wish Bone and Krayzie Bone a lot—guys who are also supportive. We talked for hours about the Rap game, how it used to be, about Tupac and Eazy E. Oh and Crooked I is just a real motherfucker. Crooked knows what lyricism is, so Crooked just loves this shit. Crooked is the only dude who went on camera and said that I’d body the shit out of Canibus before it happened. Rakim did a blog for Canibus like, “Yo, I don’t know who this guy is but Canibus is gonna kill him.” He tried to play me off. But even those cats mentioning me is just amazing. I know they’re aware of who I am. Like LL Cool J blocked me on Twitter after the Canibus battle. [But through this,] I’ve gotten to meet a lot of people I looked up to growing up.
DX: I know Eminem was a major influence on you. On Twitter, you hinted to Em’s manager, Paul Rosenberg, hitting you up. What have you heard from Em’s camp about Battle Rap, about you or about music?
Dizaster: It seemed like they wanted to hear some music from me. I’m gonna put some shit together. I know Rosenberg watches my battles, too. That’s crazy, and it’s another honor. That’s a genius dude right there. So, just the fact that these cats are looking in our direction when we’ve never had a label...I’ve never had a label. I just go around the world and I battle. I promote myself. Leagues promote me, obviously, but I promote myself through the leagues. To think that we went from rapping at a park to screaming on the Internet and now people hear us. Our voice was really heard. Wherever I go, these fools recognize me. I get shocked every time I hear celebrities recognize me or watch battles. There’s so many more that I didn’t even mention. There’s more like Lupe Fiasco and even Jay-Z watches all battles. When battling first started, we had a couple names and people would go crazy. Now, everybody does. It’s not even surprising anymore. It’s dope that the good rappers like me. You know? That’s what I like.
Dizaster Details His Non-Battle Tracks And Battling Canibus
DX: You talked about Eminem’s camp wanting to hear your music. I’ve also heard you say that your music is very different from battling. What can people expect from the music side of Dizaster?
Dizaster: I don’t know. It’s so different. I know no one is going to be able to say my shit’s wack, because I’ll shit on all these fools that are battling and putting out tracks. I’m not going to be just spitting bars on my music, bro. It’s not how it is. If cats are looking for that outlet, they can go ahead and watch my battles. I’m making records, straight records, records for people with different ideas and concepts about life. It’s music. We’re talking about music, actual music. It’s not just a fuckin’ drum beat with someone yelling and fuckin’ rapping over it. You can expect instruments, instrumentation, hooks, crazy melodies and just fuckin’ music.
DX: I guess the obvious question then is, what’s been taking so long?
Dizaster: I have a bunch of shit ready but I don’t have my business shit straight with any of the fucking people I’m doing the music with. I haven’t dropped this shit. I’m not organized, and I’m just bullshittin’ all the time. That’s just my honest opinion. Everyone always says what they’re going to do, but I’ve just been procrastinating. I’m gonna get around to it, but it’s just that battling keeps holding me back. To be honest with you, I should have been done with it.
DX: Even with all of your success and big name co-signs, there are still some who do not know who Dizaster is. We want to introduce them to Dizaster. What would you say are good introductory battles to Dizaster?
Dizaster: I’d say the Canibus battle, the Jersey Swift battle and me versus HFK. I think HFK is funny so there’s humor. If you’ve never watched battles before, you might like that shit more. Of course with Canibus, it’s the craziest shit. It’s like a movie. With Jersey Swift, that’s if you are hardcore and you like lyrical ass shit. You’ll appreciate that shit because it’s just bars, back to back.
DX: You brought up the Canibus battle. What have you and Canibus discussed after the battle?
Dizaster: There’s no discussion. He tried to call me, but I didn’t pick up any phone calls. I didn’t know what was going to happen. I felt like he would probably record the phone call and change my voice or something. I just couldn’t do it. I couldn’t answer any of his calls. I have no hate for the dude. I just definitely didn’t want anything to do with the situation anymore. I wanted to leave it at what it was.
DX: You said Wyclef hit you up after the battle. What did he say?
Dizaster: He was like, “Why did you murder him that bad?” He was like, “If you ever come to New York, come by the studio.” So next time I’m in New York, I need to hit that motherfucker up.
DX: Do you feel that was the best performance thus far?
Dizaster: It would have been, if my third round didn’t get fucked up from the crowd being shocked in the background. But always, something happens to fuck up my rounds, so I get immune to that shit.
DX: You had respect for ‘Bis going into the battle, right?
Dizaster: Definitely. But he did that for the money, really. I don’t know if it was respect no more. Maybe it was. I think he was just stupid. I think he took a paycheck and didn’t weigh in the consequences.
DX: Supernatural was on Canibus’ side during the battle. Did you speak with him after?
Dizaster: Supernat’s the homie. Me and him got a big brother-younger brother relationship thing going. I’ve got super respect for him, and it’s the same way with him, man. He came at me on some, “Thank you for holding back because I know you could’ve killed him harder.” That’s what he said to me.
DX: Some people have asked me, “Why didn’t Diz mention the notebook in a freestyle rebuttal?”
Dizaster: Oh yeah! That’s the only thing I regret about the battle. Thanks for asking me that. These are the things that I think people don’t even notice. I notice. You know why? I just wanted to get that material out that I’d been writing for so long. But I regret not freestyling about the notepad. I should’ve went in on that fuckin’ notepad. I should’ve went the fuck in on it. I could have gone forever with it. But I stuck to the lyrics because I wanted to get them out, bro.
Dizaster Says Meek Mill “Ain’t Jumpin’ In No Ring,” Discusses DNA Battle
DX: Do you see guys like him, Cassidy or Meek Mill coming back to get in the ring? Or do you feel like Canibus let people know not to get in there?
Dizaster: I don’t know. I know nobody’s getting in the ring, though. I don’t know if it’s Canibus’ fault. But I know these fools are not jumping in no ring though. Meek Mill’s not jumpin’ in any type of ring. He ain’t jumpin’ in no ring. He’s just not down like that. It was just a publicity stunt. He’s not hoppin’ in no kind of ring.
DX: What makes you say that?
Dizaster: I fuckin’ got a hundred grand ready [after Mill said he would battle for $100,000]. We called his management the next day. We offered the hundred grand, and he came up with a thousand excuses after he said he would do it. We approached him the next day, after he said some shit about a hundred grand. I had it on the table. I shot a blog for it too. I just never put it out. The thing is though, DNA had some shit four or five days later saying that he would get money together. That’s still easy to dodge, but you don’t dodge someone that just throws a hundred grand at you the next day.
DX: You mentioned DNA. Many believe you two had one of your best battles ever. What do you make of that battle?
Dizaster: Oh, I love that battle, man. With that battle, again, it’s just one of those situations where the crowd influences the battle. The ending of the battle was controversial as fuck for me, because it was kind of a fuckin’ fucked-fucked situation. But at the end of the day, it made that battle huge, what happened at the end. It also made the battle debatable, even though I fuckin’ pretty much worked him all three rounds. Anyone who breaks down what we were saying will notice how good it was. I love that battle because we both ended up looking good. I think we got 1.6 million views on it. It was the first battle event that a celebrity showed up to. That was the first time Drake showed up, and that was in the middle of his album dropping too.
DX: The last time I saw you, we were at the John John Da Don versus Caustic battle. The cops tried to stop the event. Obviously you had an issue with URL where cops stopped the event at the second venue for Armageddon. Why do you think this is so prevalent in Battle Rap right now?
Dizaster: That shit’s always gonna happen, bro. They’re mad they didn’t have a childhood. They didn’t party in high school or go to college to fuck mad bitches. So they’re gonna come and break it up, of course. Wherever people are getting pussy, money and having fun, they’re going to show up. I’m not surprised.
DX: I know you’ve mentioned that you’re working on a television show, too. What is happening with that?
Dizaster: I’m pitching a pilot to some companies. I’m working with a real big director. He’s pretty successful. He created “Lyricist Lounge,” so hopefully we can do something really nice for national TV. I’m gonna involve a lot of battle rappers. I’m gonna give him all the names of people he should go after.
DX: Is there an unsung battle rapper that you were once impressed by but they never got their due? Like for some reason, they gave up battling or they quit or never got their break?
Dizaster: I don’t know about not getting their break, but there are rappers who never went to their full potential. It’s kind of sad. Two of them, I think, were incredible battle rappers. Two of the best doing it at their time were Dumbfoundead and Soul Khan. It’s kind of sad that we didn’t see them grow into what they could’ve been. They decided to take another path, which is more lucrative for them in all aspects that they’re chasing in whatever they’re trying to achieve. But as far as Battle Rap, it’s fucked up you didn’t get to see them go to their full potential, because they were slaughtering shit when they were around. They both are more focused on their music. They love the booth and touring more than battling. So the love for battling wasn’t there anymore. I hope that never happens to me, but it probably happens to everybody at some point.
DX: Would you say that it’s true for you that you love battling and the live energy more than recording and...
Dizaster: Yeah. Nothing could ever compare to tearing people apart with punchlines and having the crowd go crazy.