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The Grind Time era was the introduction to battle rap for so many of us. Burgeoning around 2008, the league spanned from coast to coast with divisions in all major hip hop markets. Due to the league’s rapid growth, oversaturation, lack of quality control, and infighting among owners, Grind Time Now declined, and ultimately disbanded around 2012. Seeing a vacuum in the space, a couple of the other big leagues recruited talent from the then-somewhat-defunct brand and gave these battlers new respective platforms. For 10 years, these battlers rapped on other leagues without a true home-base. While this had been a great temporary solution, the time has come to bring it back home.

Drect, Lush One, and Dizaster – all of whom were directly involved in the original Grind Time, banded back together 10 years later to form GTX Battles. They debuted this new league with a heavy first card, The Prelude, at the Los Angeles Skate Club.

The Prelude had three main events on the card: Aye Verb vs. Pass, Kitchen Qleen vs. Geechi Gotti, and Aczino vs. Dizaster. Aye Verb vs. Pass was an ode to the heyday of Grind Time. Both have battled so many times on Grind Time that I was convinced the two had battled before (they haven’t). Seeing Plex Rock and Lush One stand between these two gentlemen was a nostalgic scene itself. Next up, Kitchen Qleen vs. Geechi Gotti was the street battle of the night. Not many battlers can match Geechi’s element of street talk and Kitchen Qleen did exactly that. I gotta credit Geechi Gotti as he’s the rapper on the card who really leaned into Mexican/Spanish content that resonated with the audience (more on this later). He really had his finger on the audience that night and it showed with the reactions he elicited.

This leads me to the main event of the night: Dizaster vs. Aczino. I had never heard of Aczino until this card was announced. Battle rap is such a niche scene that each “universe” is quite isolated from each other, from country to country and language to language. Apparently Aczino is in contention to be one of the most viewed battle rappers in the entire world; he’s a big deal in Mexico. More than half of the fans in the building were there specifically to see him. There were Mexican flags being waved proudly and thunderous “Aczino! Aczino! Aczino!” chants leading up to battle. It felt like a boxing match. Another mind-blowing fact is Aczino barely knows English; he learned English specifically for this battle. The first round was entirely in English, second entirely in Spanish, and the third was a free for all – Spanglish, if you will. Security may have lost a little bit of control leading up to the main event as the crowd eagerly encroached on the ring to get a better view of the action. I was lucky enough to be right behind the Ruin Your Day folks filming the battle but despite being that close, I still had to fight for my space. While mildly inconvenient, it was a raw and authentic experience.

The GTX Team really nailed this event. The battles were on point. The venue was packed. The battles went off without a hitch. And this was only The Prelude. Rumor is their next event is called The Next Episode, and I can’t wait to see what they have in store for us. If you still want to catch this event, you can cop the VOD at


Kris Kuganathan

Photojournalist - Orange County

Website: Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


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