Battle Rap

Jay z Nas

What Is Battle Rap?

Hip-hop is a competitive sport. The concept of battle rap emerged from this competitive spirit. Simply put, battle rap is a style of hip-hop that stems from the quest to be competitive within the culture.

A battle verse may be aimed at a known enemy, unnamed detractors or an entire group of foes. No matter the tactic in use, the objective the same: to assert dominance and authority over your opponent.

Rappers battle each other as a way to stay sharp. Battler rappers help sharpen other people's lyrical swords. Battles are also commonly used to call out detractors, from fellow artists to journalists.

Elements & Style

If you're into being modest, battling is no place for you. The key element in any battler is basically the ability to brag about your "superpowers." Battling is all might and muscle. Braggadocio.

Battle emcees focus on boastful lines and self-glorifying rhymes about one's proficiency or level of success, accompanied by verbal insults hurled at the other party directly or subliminally.

Some battle rappers often go as far as researching the dirty past of an opponent in order to dig up some self-injuring facts. These are then incorporated into the rhymes to downgrade the opposing party.

Types of Battling

There are different types of battling. 

Wax Battling
This is where rappers call out other rappers or respond to challengers.

Wax battles take the form of songs. For instance, Drake's "Back to Back" was a diss to Meek Mill. Jay Z's "Takeover" was a response record to Nas' "Ether" in what was arguably the greatest rap battle of all time.

Freestyle Battling
Freestyle battling is directly influenced by the ancient insult games.

Freestyle battlers face off against one another in a series of insults. It has evolved drastically over the years. Today, freestyle battles are more sophisticated, better researched, and more profitable as a business. The best battle rappers create rhymes that are both entertaining and witty enough to win the crowd's oohs and aahhs.

Key Battle Rappers:

Top Battle Songs:

  • Ether - Nas 
  • Takeover - Jay-Z 
  • Kick In The Door - The Notorious B.I.G. 
  • Hit ‘Em Up - 2Pac 
  • 2nd Round Knockout - Canibus 

Key Hip-Hop Battles:

  • Death Row Vs. Bad Boy Records
  • Nas Vs. Jay-Z
  • LL Cool J Vs. Canibus
  • Common Vs. Ice Cube
  • Busy Bee Vs. Kool Moe Dee