Real Sikh Is Real Sharp

“There is always a moment in the pyramid of our lives when the apex is reached.” – Ninon De L’Enclos

2023 has undeniably been the year of Real Sikh reaching some of the highest peaks within his skill-set as a battler.

Arguably, Real Sikh hasn’t lost a round throughout the entire year, battling in 4 different leagues, performing in 3 different countries, collecting 2 headliners, and snagging 1 Battle Of The Year (BOTY) Contender. Real Sikh is projected to make his 3rd Top 20 list, over the last 4 years. So It’s more than safe to say he is a perennial All-Star within our culture. Every year since 2020, he puts up one of the biggest bodies of the year or has one of the best battles of the year. Real SIkh is someone who has been through the wringer and has a Hall of Fame list of names when you run down his resume, with names like B-Magic, Danny Myers, Arsonal, Pat Stay, DNA, K Shine, Nu Jerzey Twork, Dizaster and still plenty more to name, he’s seen hell and back.

This year in particular, he has found an extreme level of comfort when it comes to navigating and controlling a crowd. He’s found the writing formula to make him a dangerous threat to any style. The level of showmanship he brings to the stage as a performer is consistently at a high level, and some would go as far as to say they are even enjoying his writing more this year as well. it’s become a thrilling and ongoing masterpiece on the stage.


The Masterclass On The Stage

More times than not, when you put Real Sikh on a card, the results are fairly consistent. You’ll get one of the better performances on the card, or on a few other occasions, a display of sheer dominance. And in this case, he had both. Fresh off his main event clash against CoJay at Premier Battles in London, Real Sikh showcased a performance that not only secured a dominant victory but also earned him the accolade of arguably the best of the night and the entire weekend. 

Real Sikh making his return to Premier Battles is quite the full-circle moment. The last time he graced a Premier Battle stage was in 2019, as an undercard to John John Da Don vs Shotty Horroh’s All-Star card. Real Sikh battled Maverick in what was regarded as the Battle of the Night of the Card. He was on his way to being a Rookie on URL in 2019, and showed massive potential to his ceiling at the time. Fast forward 4 years later he returned to the platform to showcase the evolution of his game.

His direct attack toward Cojay about choking really set the tone for how Sikh was going to break him down, but beyond trying to break you down, don’t forget that Sikh can punch your head off for a round too.  It’s almost like being a boxer with precision and determination, the boxer constantly advances, throwing punches with faultless timing and accuracy. The relentlessness creates overwhelming pressure, leaving the opponent with minimal opportunity to evade or counter. Sikh’s 1st round against Cojay, he took full advantage to show the impeccable timing and delivery of his punchlines in various cadences. It’s important to highlight this because, in his initial debut on Premier Battle, there is a distinct difference in his timing & aggression, which is the leap from him being good to being exemplary. 

This onslaught of potent punchlines coincided with the proper pace, and pretty much put him in the driver’s seat for the rest of the battle, where he gained a 1-0 lead that almost felt equivalent to seeing an NBA team gain a 20-point lead. It’s so dominating and all year long Sikh have shown what it’s like to be in complete control.  

It's All Under Control

Real Sikh’s mastery in utilizing his heightened skill set is remarkable, evident in his ability to exert complete control in all his battles. His strategic finesse allows him to lay traps for opponents, manipulating the perception of how they are viewed while adeptly reflecting against any damage he incurs. The HomeSkool battle stands out as a testament to Sikh’s prowess, showcasing his ability to dismantle an opponent using angles and also showing separation between their rapping ability. 

In the disaster battle, Real Sikh unveils a new strategic approach that transcends traditional punch-lining.  “Everything doesn’t require a punchline all the time as long as you are direct or talk to your opponent. like when I belittle Dizaster’s accomplishments and tell him Welcome to URL pussy, don’t get boo’d” – Real Sikh

Sikh plants seeds of doubt in the crowd’s mind, almost daring them to take action, turning the audience against Dizaster, (although im sure that was going to happen regardless) this innovative strategy demonstrates Sikh’s ability to captivate not only lyrically but also through an understanding of crowd dynamics and psychological manipulation. Real Sikh’s control over the narrative in his battles, whether through intricate angles or crowd engagement strategies, marks him as a battle rapper with a multifaceted and highly effective approach to the craft.

When Real Sikh faced A.Ward in battle, it marked the pinnacle of his capabilities, showcasing the epitome of Peak Real Sikh. A.Ward, presented a barrage of damaging angles in the first round, battling at the highest level with a combination of humor, real talk, angle-punches, character assassination, and crowd control. A.Ward left no box unchecked, even momentarily turning the crowd against Real Sikh. However, what makes this battle stand out is Real Sikh’s remarkable ability to counteract the thunderstorm of attacks presented by A.Ward. Real Sikh, equipped with his new rebuttal attributes acquired over the past year of battling, cleared the fog created by A.Ward’s assault, enabling him to create a storm of his own. This subtle yet profound moment exemplifies Real Sikh’s growth and adaptability, showcasing a level of execution that was once beyond his reach. Years ago, countering a multifaceted attack of this magnitude in a battle might have been a challenge for Real Sikh, but this battle highlighted his capability of weathering any storm and creating his own tempest in response in a Career high showing in what was regarded as one of the best Battles of the Year. 

Revisiting the "Losing streak" on The App

This level of mastery being displayed on the stage didn’t happen over night and there were growing pains in the process. In the latter part of 2021, Real Sikh faced the toughest stretch of his career, a grueling trifecta of battles, which ultimately shaped him to evolve into the big stage maestro he has become. 

The first chapter of this challenging path unfolded on the stage of Civil War 1. It was URL’s first live event since the pandemic-induced hiatus. Real Sikh found himself in the ring with Ave, a perennial Top-Tier and one of the best two punchers in the league. SIkh was ultimately outclassed and outmatched but his first round showed some flashes of him being confident with performing in that size of a room. The intensity of Real Sikh’s trial reached another layer of difficulty when he made his appearance on the Drake card, Battling the late great Pat Stay (RIP), one of our fallen greats and a master of versatility. Pat was making his return to the ring after a year hiatus. Yet again, Real Sikh’s 1st round showed more flashes of brilliance. He was rocking the room in his 1st round against a Top-Tier and was able to dictate the tempo of the battle until Pat Stay recaptured the momentum and showcased the vital significance of rebuttaling. (A Key attribute the Real Sikh would acquire in his repertoire in the later future.) The final results were fairly competitive and it ended up being a debatable battle. 

Following the high-profile Drake card, Real Sikh made his debut on the prestigious Smack Volume stage, making his debut against none other than DNA, yet again another legend, 
(see the trend here). Another solid and competitive battle. All 3 battles showed the same range of his potential peak but also showed the same flaws.  A glaring weakness was his lack of writing uphill or some of the dead spaces in between long setups and punchlines. Despite his inexperience, having to take on these 3 elite opponents, while he was still only in his 2nd year in the league and was making his debut on big stages, was a remarkable feature when you look back at it, and look outside of his app record. His battle vs Ave & Pat Stay was the biggest crowd he had ever battled in front of to date at the time, which also added an extra layer of complexity to an already challenging series of matchups.

Picture someone trying to learn how to ride a surfboard for the first time. Just as a surfer studies the waves, anticipating their movements and adjusting their approach accordingly. In this analogy, the stage becomes the surfboard that the battle rapper must skillfully navigate, showcasing agility, awareness, poise, and execution. Real Sikh learned how to read the crowd and understand the nuances of the setting. Now picture trying to learn how to surf in the middle of some of the biggest waves the ocean has to offer. The waves being the opponent (No pun intended).

Facing some of the greatest battle rappers is like tackling massive waves – it requires skill, experience, balance, and the ability to adjust in real time. Real Sikh, like the surfer, embraces the ebb and flow of the battle, finding the right rhythm, the balance of his skill set, and riding the energy of the crowd to deliver impactful performances. 

Regardless of the competitive nature of each battle, where you can legitimately make a case for him winning maybe 2 of those 3 battles, all because of his commendable performances, he registered a 0-3 losing streak at the time on the URLTV app. In hindsight, I want to take some accountability for the App’s statistics painting a misleading picture. The losing streak doesn’t account for the nuance and context of Real Sikh being in his sophomore year, battling three all-time great top-tier names while simultaneously acclimating to the demands of performing on big stages. It was all overshadowed by mere numbers. Real Sikh’s journey during this tough stretch serves as a testament to his resilience, determination, and invaluable experience which goes on to shape him into an even more progressive battler within the next couple of years.

What made this stretch even more demanding was the short preparation time for each battle, ranging from two to three weeks each. This condensed timeline underscored Real Sikh’s adaptability and work ethic. Sometimes you need to give yourself time to process things you have learned so you can properly apply the new knowledge you’ve obtained to future situations. This window of his career I would say was the most pivotal to him developing his skills to the next level.  

When It All Started To Click

It’s important to reflect back to his Pat Stay battle for a moment. Real Sikh was far from a complete product, but still had a very high level of IQ.

I did an interview with Real Sikh just a few days after the battle with Pat Stay, that’s when he unveiled the intricacies of his exceptional counter-writing ability. Sikh revealed his strategic approach to battle rap, emphasizing his ability to seamlessly interchange material on the spot as a key advantage. Unlike conventional structuring, Sikh explained that he organizes his rounds into flexible sections, enabling him to call audibles and switch out impactful lines depending on his opponent’s moves. His impeccable memorization skills, coupled with this dynamic writing style, empower him to adapt effortlessly during battles. However, Sikh, in a candid self-assessment, acknowledged a potential downside to this approach. Despite the success in countering Pat Stay’s every point, he admitted feeling less comfortable with the performance aspect. His focus on rearranging material to deliver effective counters, while a testament to his adaptability, posed a challenge to his overall comfort on the battle rap stage. This revelation provided a fascinating glimpse into the intricate balance between tactical flexibility and performance comfort within Real Sikh’s unique approach to the art of battle rap.

In the opening round of the tournament, Real Sikh faced off against Stumbles, entering the battle as a heavy favorite. Despite not underestimating his opponent, Sikh viewed this matchup as a prime opportunity to showcase the wealth of experience he had gained. In a post-battle reflection, he expressed his approach, stating, “I did my part by putting the pressure of the stage on him. Making sure that all the stuff I learned last year, that I’m incorporating now. I know how to land a punch now and deliver that shit now.”- Real Sikh 

You can look up his lyrics on Genius from his battles in 2021 vs his battles in 2022. And you can visibly read and feel Sikh using fewer bars to get to his punch. What used to take him 10-12 bars to land, now only takes him 6-8 bars, and he makes sure to add subtle jabs in the process of longer setups.

Real Sikh’s evolution as a battle rapper was palpable in the adjustments he made. He strategically trimmed the structure of his writing, aiming for increased impact by landing more potent punches in his rounds. Recognizing the importance of tempo, Sikh refined his delivery to extenuate precisely at the right moments, bringing emphasis and heightened impact to delivering punches. He also began the habit of writing uphill more often. 

Beyond these structural changes, he incorporated freestyling and mid-round rebuttals, showcasing his ability to adapt on the spot. Sikh’s improvements extended to crowd control, stage movement, and the incorporation of performance bars. He brought a new level of excitement to being a performer. And literally improved in all the areas he had shown shortcomings.

The Biggest Test

Real Sikh’s battle with Nu Jerzey Twork proved to be the ultimate litmus test for his adjustments to the big stage. The matchup was a clash of contrasting styles but a difficult challenge. He isn’t more electrifying nor is he a better performer than Twork. Real Sikh doesn’t rely on explosive theatrics or have the same level of experience in the grandeur of the big stage. Adding to the challenge, Real Sikh was coming off a loss against one of the best performers in K Shine, making his position even more daunting.

The battle against Nu Jerzey Twork at Civil War 3 was yet again another full-circle moment. Civil War 1 marked his big stage debut, and here he was, a year later, facing his biggest test once again on the Civil War stage. This battle was a defining moment for Real Sikh’s journey, where he not only showcased his growth and adaptability but also confronted the disparities in performance styles. He opened his first round with multiple rebuttals, something he’d never done before. This was the first battle of SIkh’s career since the passing of Pat Stay, someone who was a heavy influence on him and would always give him feedback & advice on his performances.  “Good rebuttalers take the best bar in your round and rebuttal it to disarm your best moment. And that’s the next level for me. Something the late great Pat Stay would always instill in my head.”- Real Sikh

After his explosive intro, Sikh continued his round with so many haymakers in different variety of cadences that all was successfully landing with the crowd. It’s like he found a way to compensate and close to gap between the two of them as performers. “Twork never felt like someone matched his energy before and in this one, I did. It’s crazy because he said I gave him his first classic.”- Real SIkh

All of the difficult situations he’s endured with his back against the wall against top-tier opponents, have all molded SIkh to be prepared for a moment like this against Twork. Hardship is the rigorous training ground where resilience is forged, preparing you not just for the difficulties of the present but arming you with the fortitude to conquer the challenges of an unwritten future. And with someone as dedicated to their craft as Real Sikh is, reaching this destination was probably always in the cards for him. 

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