As weird as it seems now when looking at me, I came up battle rapping in the late 90’s / early 00’s and was weirdly able to turn a radio contest, where I faced different MCs everyday, into a lucrative record deal at Interscope Records when I was 20 years old. When I was young and hungry, nothing could stop me. I was basically a machine, able to freestyle at any moment and break my opponent into pieces. I was heralded as the city’s best for a few years and my throne was uncontested, at least for a moment. I practiced everyday and it showed. But that was then, and this is now.
Battle rapping has taken on a whole new life. With competitions like King of the Dot and Grind Time invading YouTube, it’s turned the lyrical sport, once confined to high school quads and local record stores, into something that can be seen and captured at anytime via the web. They now battle a cappella, so every word can be understood, and it’s mostly written in advance now. We could hide under a beat, but we also had to come up with everything off the top of your head, or you basically lost. And Los Angeles may have thought I was a beast at one time, but in 2013, not only wouldn’t I have gotten a record deal off my battle skills, I may have lost the first one and took up piano.
There are a bunch of incredible current battle rappers you should research, like Dizaster, Aye Verb, Arcane and Pat Stay - but I when I think about the modern day rap battle, I think of the one above. It’s from a competition in the UK called “Don’t Flop,” and I’ve cued it up for you to just hear the last round from an American rapper named Caustic. They’ve already went back and forth twice and now this would be his final word, the knock out blow. And boy, was it.
At the start of his round, it seemed like Caustic apologized to his opponent, the home towner, Jefferson Price and we found out that was for a good reason. I won’t spoil anything, but I’ll just give you a quick intro on it.
The prior day, it seems Jefferson caught wind of what Caustic was going to say (someone he rehearsed to snitched), called him and asked him to take it easy on the attacks re: his personal life. They came to an agreement that he wouldn’t mention names (he didn’t say anything about others saying them) and he would think (THINK) about not bringing up Jefferson’s relationship with his fiancé at all. Well, you can see how that turned out. Keep in mind, his fiancé was there at the battle.
I see this and want to hide under a rock. I’m so happy I don’t have to battle in this era. It’s insane. I couldn’t imagine being humiliated and destroyed in front of, what is now on YouTube, millions of people by people who’ve just evolved into the best battlers of all-time. Then you have to shake your opponent’s hand when you finish. UGH. I know it’s all part of the tradition (even the fat stuff, that’s part of the agreement you make when battling) and I said insanely mean things to opponents, and opponents said insanely mean things to me, but good God - this is next level.
Respect to everybody out there doing this bloodsport and I’m proud to say I turned this hobby into a million dollars, even if now I couldn’t hold a candle to the champions. Good luck and don’t take it personal (P.S. YOU HAVE TO TAKE IT PERSONAL. DON’T BE A WEIRDO).