Recently, a video hit YouTube showing a rap battle in Compton, California. During the battle, one rapper pulls out a syringe and injects a liquid assumed to be heroin. Nearly half the audience members in the video raised their phones and began recording. Some cheered. Others shouted, “That’s ratchet,” or “That’s gangsta.” When the video surfaced, it immediately started making rounds on the Internet.

For L.A.-based battle rapper Cadalack Ron, a.k.a. Robert Paulson, hard drugs are nothing new. He goes by aliases such as The Methadone Don and Black Tar Rock Star and he’s commented throughout his battle career on a life of hard drug use. Yet, there’s something about a man taking out a syringe in a room full of spectators and shooting up that’s startling—even in battle rap, where startling is the norm.

Lately, the niche of battle rap has been garnering more attention thanks to a forthcoming Eminem-produced reality show. Antics, stunts, and spectacles have pervaded the sport. One of battling’s most viral videos, the famous Math Vs. Dose battle, consists of a punch thrown mid-round followed by a melee. Battle rapper Daylyt has made his initial mark on the battle scene almost exclusively via spectacle. Memorable Daylyt stunts include wearing masks, dressing as Batman, and stripping naked.

In battle rap anything you say or do can and will be used against you. Rappers create personae and characters to carry the flack they absorb in their battles. Usually these characters are infallible: They deal drugs, have guns bigger than yours, and all of them have slept with a woman you love. Cadalack Ron has taken a different approach. His character is a white-trash junkie who’s done every drug in the book. For Ron, airing these shameful truths acts as a kind of shield. It’s a risky strategy, and it doesn't always work.

Cadalack Ron’s next record, Krokodil Dundee (named after the especially pernicious opiate derivative that rots the skin of its users), will be released on Full Psycho Records. I caught up with him to find out exactly what happened in the now infamous heroin video. According to Cadalack Ron, he wasn’t so much showing a moment of weakness, as making a point. Click through for the interview.

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