Many talk. A few rhyme. Only the best improvise. That’s the tagline for the international final of the Red Bull Batalla de los Gallos 2018, the massive international event that will be taking place this Sunday at the Club Hípico Argentino in Palermo. The competition brings to Buenos Aires 16 of the best freestylers from Latin America and Spain, headlined by the three top places from last year’s competition who achieved an automatic invite to this year: Aczino from Mexico (the returning champion), Wos from Argentina (second place) and Arkano from Spain (third place).
The rest of the field is completed by the winners of the Red Bull competitions for each country included. That list is Pepe Grillo (Chile), Rapder (México), Valles-T (Colombia), RVS (Costa Rica), Índico (Panamá), Jaze (Peru), KDT (Dominican Republic), Letra (Venezuela), Switch (Ecuador), Yerico (Cuba), Neón (Bolivia) and Bnet (Spain).
Argentina will be playing host to the event for the first time since 2013, when Argentina freestyle legend Dtoke took advantage of the energy of the home crowd to conquer the crown. Dtoke himself will be part of the jury for this edition along with a who’s who of rap idols from different countries: Duki, Skone, Omega and Hadrián.
Wos: A tale of revenge
What would a competition of this magnitude be without a good revenge story for a backdrop? In this case, the protagonist of such a story is none other than Argentina’s own Wos. After winning the national championship in front of a packed Luna Park in 2017, the kid from Villa Crespo booked his ticket to Mexico were he fell in the final to local hero Aczino. “Reaching the final in Mexico was a true honor, it was my first international competition”, recalls Wos. “But now that I’m playing at home and having that final under my belt I guess I’m considered a favorite. Nonetheless there are a lot of competitors that want to win abroad because they feel it’s twice as sweet. So I have to be prepared.”
Experience is sure to play a role in the competition and is a definite advantage for the three returning competitors from 2017. “I think it plays a difference for sure. before you go to an international you can’t really imagine how it is. Having lived it once also gives you a bit of confidence. I already competed with Aczino, with Arkano so they won’t catch me off guard. I know what works for me.”
One of the reasons Wos credits for his 2017 loss was the fact that during the months before the final he had been pursuing an acting career on the side, one that actually landed him a role in a feature film called Las Vegas by indie director Juan Villegas. But this year he decided to leave acting on the back burner and focus full time on freestyle, competing all year long in the local Freestyle Master Series (FMS) that brings together the best rappers in the country including the aforementioned Dtoke. Wos was in fine form throughout, ranking number one in the league by year’s end and building momentum for the upcoming event.
“The decision to drop acting wasn’t that tough because I’m just beginning on that field and on the other hand freestyling has put me on a global stage. Freestyle has given me confidence, it’s given me identity. At least for me in freestyle, the moment is now.”
Dozer: The new kid with a message
Argentina will be one of only three countries to feature two competitors in battle during the international final. The other one is the young challenger from the barrio of Don Orione and 2018 national champion Dozer. His is one of the most original stories in this edition of the Batalla de los Gallos, being the only rapper in the competition (and probably the rapping world in general) to frame his lyrics around a strong christian message that pretty much defines his style.
“What makes me different is that I want to leave a message out there and not only win”, Dozer explains. “I have my faith in God and that has me calm and relaxed, waiting for the moment”. As you might imagine, his faith is the main issue that comes up when other rappers battle him on stage. “During battles they tell me that not even my God will save me, that I better start praying, they tell me about the bad things that priests have recently been known for. But I’m used to it and I answer back. My faith is intact.”
A fervent admirer of Eminem and Reggaeton pioneer Vico C, Dozer rapped for years in different train cars all over Buenos Aires, honing his craft on the way. “I had to get up everyday to bring smiles to travelers. It was a challenge but I had this passion towards the music and it strengthened my confidence. I started to connect with people, despite those that maybe didn’t enjoy rap as much. I learned to rap with a smile on my face, ignoring those that wanted to bring me down.”
After 5 years doing the train gigs, Dozer began to take part in El Quinto Escalón, a freestyling event in Parque Rivadavia that took place on Sundays, a sort of nesting ground for many of the rappers that have recently flourished in Argentina. After that it was just a matter of time before he arrived at the Red Bull stage and that happened in the 2016 edition. “It was in Tecnopolis in front of 8 thousand people. I imagined I was just rapping on the train, only it was a really big train”, he explains while laughing. “I got to the semifinal but there I let my guard down a bit and I lost. That’s how these competitions work.”
The following year he came back and reached the semifinals one more time, before finally taking the national title earlier this year and booking his spot in the international competition. He feels confident about his chances and takes to heart all that rap and freestyling has meant to him so far. “Rap pretty much changed my life, its my escape valve. It lets me say things that otherwise I couldn’t express. They always tell me that I look like somebody else when I’m on stage. It’s a part of me that only comes out when I rap.”
The International Final for the Batalla de Los Gallos will take place on December 9th at 18hs in the Club Hípico Argentino (Av. Pres. Figueroa Alcorta 7285). The event will be streamed live through Red Bull TV (www.redbull.tv) which is available on Smart TVs, videogame consoles and smartphones