Battle Rap And Its Culture

Written By @MDizzle9000 

When I was asked to write a piece on battle rap I was a little overwhelmed. Where do I start the conversation when we're talking about something I love so much? I guess I'll start there, by telling you I love battle rap. I love hip hop. Hip hop separates itself from other genre's of music with its competitive nature. You can't have a bluegrass battle, it would suck ass. Battle rap is the heart of hip hop. Two emcees face to face, using their skill and wit to attack each other lyrically. Proving themselves to anyone watching or listening. A gladiator fight with words...a true sport in itself.

Going back to the beginnings of hip hop, battling has always been there. Anyone who raps wants to prove they're the best. From Kool Moe Dee vs Busy Bee in 81 to Hollow Da Don vs Joe Budden in 2014, it's always been fascinating. We as fans love watching beefs and battles play out. We take side's like we root for our favorite teams(battle rap should be on ESPN, shit, poker is). It's 2014 and we still talk abou Jay-Z vs Nas, hell we still talk about Pac and Big! We talk about these verses like we talk about Jordan hitting shots in the finals. It's serious competition and on top of that, it's entertaining.

I hate to be the "i liked it before it was cool" guy, so I won't put down anybody who recently got into battle rap. Ever since the infamous Loaded Lux vs. Calicoe battle(murder) battle rap has been getting heavier attention and I'm grateful for that. Coming up in NY in the early 2000s I was blessed to be around Smack DVDs. Seeing dudes like Mook and Lux back then just rapping without all the money and politics was involved was special. 106 and park in the AJ and Free days used to hold it down too with Freestyle Friday, when it was relevant and they actually had some talent show up. Around that same time when 8 mile came out, everyone wanted to battle. Seeing that happen was dope although too many Eminem clones started popping up. Shit was big back then, record labels started having battle rap tournaments for deals(and not actually giving said deals. Remember Wreckonize? Of course you dont) and we were seeing it on tv. Since then it had died down in the mainstream eye, along with good hip hop, but that's another story for a different blog. 

The new craze over battle rap reminds me of the early 2000s but stronger and more genuine. This time we didn't need an Eminem movie to make it popular. Instead the battles themselves got so good that they couldn't be ignored. The Ultimate Rap League or URL and it's pool of talent is mostly responsible for this(not forgetting Lionz Den or Grindtime, but those leagues never blew up like URL has) Headed by Smack, who did the Smack DVDs back in the day, URL has grown into the closest thing to a professional league that battle rap has. Do a YouTube search and watch some classic URL battles like Math Hoffa vs T-Rex or Goodz vs Conceited. This is what all the new battle rappers are emulating while coming with their own steez. The various styles and originality is near infinite now, every battle rapper has their own signature flows and angles and even personal slogans! This is why superstar athletes like Kevin Durant show up to battles and why big names like P Diddy and Drake are sponsoring events. This is why 106 and park got smack to revamp freestyle Fridays, and battle rap has its own reality show on the Fuse network. This is why signed artists like Joe Budden feel the need to step into the ring.

Battle rap is bigger and better than its ever been. The punchlines and schemes are more advanced. The performance factor is bigger than ever with rappers like Hitman Holla and Daylyt taking stage presence to new levels. The market for battle rap is bigger too, that's why the names I mentioned above are bringing themselves into it. These battle rappers aren't battling for deals anymore and not only because the record industry is a graveyard now but because they're getting PAID good money now just to battle. They deserve the money too. It's beautiful seeing lyricism being rewarded somewhere, since mainstream hip hop has steered away from rappers who actually know how to rap. The contracts, regulations and new competitive battle leagues all have the potential to help or hurt the culture in many ways, but this is always the story when an artform grows beyond its native scene. Only time will tell if the mainstream will elevate battling or corrupt it. 

I think all my fellow hip hop heads should get into battle rap. I wrote this to pay homage to the culture and to spread the word. Go watch those classics with Loaded Lux, Murda Mook and Serius Jones. Watch the emcees that were a part of the resurgence, like Charlie Clips, DNA, Aye Verb, Arsonal and alot of other acts that the newbies got their style from. Watch the new guys too, check out B Magic, Chilla Jones, Danny Myers and anyone else up and coming into this playing field. If you love hip hop and love lyricism this might become your new favorite thing. Keep it alive.



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