By day, he leads an unassuming life working 9-5 as an Online Content Co-ordinator for The Monthly magazine. But by night, surrounded by a rowdy crowd and beer soaked floors he plays a more intimidating role. Here, Defron is a fierce combatant in the sometimes brutal, often confronting yet always entertaining ‘lyrical warfare’ of battle rap - an increasingly popular sport in which two or more individuals fling rhyming, often improvised insults at one another in the hope of being judged the most witty or lyrically proficient by judges and audiences. In minute long rounds, battlers must either entertain the crowd or face the deafening silence of their rhymes falling flat.
Defron likens battle rap to a verbal boxing match: There are your George Forman type battlers with ‘more personal, hard hitting lyrics’ and those like ‘Ali…with the footwork and a little bit more style’. Either way, competitors must play their role as MCs – “Master of Ceremonies” – by making entertaining the crowd centrally important he explains. ‘If you like comedy you’ll like it’ he tells me, with a serious tone that echoes his in-your face style of battle rapping.
Despite his aggressive style on-stage, off-stage Defron is an approachable and friendly guy. He laughs as he tells me how following one competition his friend announced: ‘this makes no sense, you are such a nice dude…and you’re such a goofball, but when you were on that mic 10 minutes ago you frightened me’. This contrast between nice-guy and formidable foe parallels the super-hero lifestyle which self-confessed ‘nerdy white kid’ Defron cherishes. He explains that ‘I’m not confrontational at all…but that’s where battle rapping works for me because it’s the place where I can be this beast of a performer and be in someone’s face’. More simply, he can ‘tap into the hulk, unleash him… and let Bruce Banner chill in the background for a while’ in a way which most can only dream about.