Don’t Flop Chats to… Callum From The Forum

Photo by Myles Burrell
Photo taken by Myles Burrell

As I waited for Callum Martin to arrive at Seven in Brixton, I wasnt sure what to expect. I had met Callum several times at various different Dont Flop events, he was always friendly and welcoming but he possessed a frantic edge to him. You would never get a decent conversation or face time with former forum nerd turned Dont Flop staff member because he was always off greeting the next battler to walk past.

I was surprised when we sat down to talk. Callum was engaging and open, he was talkative and honest, straight off the bat you could see that his friendly demeanour at events was no facade – he really is just that excited to see everyone.

Callum stumbled into the world of battling after some lads a few years ahead of him in secondary school started to make a name for themselves on Dont Flop. One was Ceezlin, the other was Rizzle of Rizzle Kicks fame.

Thats pretty much how I got into it and then I started watching YouTube, looking at Jump Off, WRC, stuff like that, and didnt really watch it as much as I do now. It was a bit more like, oh, lets watch a rap battlewhereas now its bit more, well, what battle havent I watched yet?.

But this was just the start of the interest. Soon Callum transitioned from fan to staff member. Originally, former Dont Flop digital chief, Sam Ridgway, asked Callum if hed like to be a forum moderator

And after that I got promoted to web staff which is like Extended Family – thats what we call it – which includes stewards, resident DJs, all that jazz.

When Ridgway left the team, Eurgh was quick to get in touch with Callum to discuss a promotion. It struck some fans as an unusual decision. Callum, known to many as Corny, was somewhat maligned by Dont Flop fans for his outspoken manner – and Callum knows it.

I was young and snappy on the forum, reacted to things I shouldnt have, trolled people, got trolled, you know, thats how it ended and thats how it got started really. But I kind of grew out of that.

Photo taken by Myles Burrell
Photo taken by Myles Burrell

Whatever snappinessCallum employs in his moderation of ViewPoint is very clearly counter-balanced by a genuine humility that not everybody gets a chance to see.

Its hilarious, really. Its odd. I went from being on the sidelines to being Sleepy Gees mate to being the guy that puts things on the website to being Callum From The Forum. Which is why Im called that, because thats how people know me, and I dont want to take it all too seriously. Because it is hilarious.

But it can work negatively and things can go horribly for you. You see some battle fans get trolled, and some battlers to the point that they leave. But generally, its cool, its fun.

Callum knows what hes talking about. Unlike most, he has a unique insight into battle – as a fan, as a staff member and most recentlyAs a battle rapper. Hes enjoying his latest role in the culture.

What made me want to do it again is the adrenaline. You say one thing and the crowd go crazy.

Is there a burgeoning desire to be in the limelight?

Nah, not at all, its just a fun thing to do once in awhile – to spice things up. Being behind the computer all day, you just get a bit of an itch, you see battles, you see tryouts and some of them are just a bit lacklustre. And you just get that itch, the competitive side of you comes out. I could do better than that person.

Hearing these words straight from the horses mouth, I believe him. I dont see that drive in his eyes to want to do this more. After all, he is hyper-aware of battlings pitfalls.

When I prepare for a battle, I expect the worst. Well, I dunno. Ive only had one battle. But people could go through Facebook and the forum and find 50 Shades of Shit on me.

Photo taken by Darren Johnson
Photo taken by Darren Johnson

Its that 50 Shades of Shit that is the interesting part because weve seen Callum in the past get heated when people have brought up personal information about him as a means to attack him.

In a battle, you go there expecting to be insulted. But if its on a forum and people are doing things like posting pictures of family members, its so out of line. But in a battle environment its like a gladiators colosseum.

Generally it depends how creatively they use the angle. The thing with Caustic, it wasnt creative but it worked. It made Jefferson Price quit. It got under peoples skin, like Souls skin, but some people take personal angles and just dont use them well.

Callum does not shy away from sharing his opinions on the state of UK battle rap, and where the culture is headed.

Dont Flop is still very young. Battle rap in the UK is very young. Its infantile. Its so accepted in the UK to be one of two types of battler. You’re either a jokes battler or a bar battler. 

Encouragingly, Callum can all speak fluently about battle raps teething problems – homophobia, misogyny, racism – worrying, as most fans do, that these issues will mean that battling will never branch out into the mainstream, and forever remain a subculture.

I think there will always be battlers who do that for shock factor. People in battle rap always want to see how far they can go. But this past year, its not quite been exterminated, but its been almost pushed out. People dont go crazy for it, they just kind of groan.

Its a subject that I feel strongly on, and Callum speaks with real knowledge about it. He references a Soul Khan interview where some of his homophobic bars impacted a gay fan negatively. Theres always got to be a lineis Callums view, finding that line is where the challenge arises.

With Callum, as with battle rap itself, it is easy to judge a book by its cover. But if my time with him has taught me anything its that this is never a reasonable thing to do. Here is a young man with a passion for battle rap that is working hard to get direction and success into his life, he talks openly about his aspirations to go to university to ultimately pursue a desire to become a writer. One thing is clear, Callum From The Forum may just be a persona, but Dont Flop is lucky to have Callum Martin.


Follow on Twitter at @marcus_bernard

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