But when Kerser got what some saw as his comeuppance, it came in unlikely circumstances. At a battle-rap in Melbourne, he faced an unknown Indigenous emcee who had seemingly come out of nowhere. Zone Doubt, who had stepped in for a rapper who had pulled out, was introduced with somewhat inaccurate hyperbole as “the world’s first Indigenous battle rapper”. He proceeded to pull Kerser apart.
Three years on and 2300 kilometres away, Zone Doubt sits on a park bench at the other end of Australia and reflects back on that fateful day battling Kerser in Melbourne. “I’ll be honest,” he tells Green Left on a warm winter’s day in his tropical hometown of Cairns. “He’s garbage. He, as a person, is garbage.”
Zone Doubt’s accent pours like thick molasses squeezed from Queensland cane. As he speaks, rays from the mid-afternoon sun cut through the branches of a giant fig tree and glint gold off his wraparound shades. A week-long growth of beard curls up against their frames.
“When you’re expressing in the battle rap, it puts you on the spot more than any other form of lyrical expression,” he says. “You can stand there and say ‘your mama’ jokes all day or you can HURT that man, by saying certain things. Honestly, I don’t think he had any content on me at all, and the moment he started talking about family, that’s disrespect. That’s not battle rapping to me. It was just race jokes. It was just inappropriate.”