David Dallas has been spent much of 2016 in the shadows, remaining relatively quiet as he readies a new album.
But he's finished the year by firing an impressive warning shot that reminds why he remains among the country's best MCs.
It comes in the form of 64 Bars, an ongoing collaboration of live videos curated by Dallas in conjunction with Red Bull that showcases the skills of local rappers.
Watch David Dallas in 64 Bars:
Dallas says 64 Bars, named after the number of lines rappers are expected to spit in one take across hip-hop instrumentals, is the ultimate test for an MC.
"For the most part, people maybe write two or three 16-bar verses (for a song). Writing 64 bars is like writing four verses. Without a chorus to make it interesting, it's all on the rapper to make it worth listening to - your flow, your sense of rhythm, your lyrics," he says.
"64 Bars is a different sport ... the craft of rapping. It's like the difference between jogging and sprinting," he says.
Dallas has been producing the series for two rounds now, handpicking his favourite local rappers - promising names like INF, Dirty, Abdul Kay and Raiza Biza - to take part.
While rap has always been competitive, Dallas says that's taken to an extreme on 64 Bars, with each participant wanting to raise the bar.
"Everyone's like, 'Yeah, cool, (I'll do it) but I don't want to be wack. People really are trying to bring their A-game because the standard's been set. They don't want to participate unless they progress it forward."
And Dallas is always impressed by what he sees unfold in Red Bull's Grey Lynn studio.
"Some of these guys come in with laugh-out-loud punchlines, for others it's more of a technical thing. They'll amaze you with the speed with which they can rap."
Released last month, Dallas' own addition to the series is set across a soul-laced loop and showcases his smooth, understated flow.
It includes impressive lines like: "I let it all hang out on these tracks / You're a nip slip," and, "You didn't know I've still got the hardest flow? Question marks over me disappear like a Mario."
It might be the best instalment of 64 Bars yet, and it's a taste of the 34-year-old's upcoming new album, the follow-up to 2013's Falling Into Place and one he says will be more hard-hitting in the style of his fiery 2015 single Don't Rate That.
"In context of the rest of the record, Don't Rate That seems logical. But the last thing (fans) heard was Runnin', then they heard Don't Rate That, they were like, 'Woah, what's going on here?' It's a bigger surprise to everyone else than me. It's just where I was at.
"The rest of the album's not as abrasive as Don't Rate That in terms of aggressiveness, but there are hints of that sort of content throughout the record," he says.
Dallas will release his as-yet untitled new album in 2017.