Two MCs battling on Grind Time.

A rap battle, also known as an MC battle, is a set up competition commonly held in leagues such as King of the Dot and Ultimate Rap League, in which two rappers either improvise lyrics or have written lyrics to insult the other rapper.

Style and performanceEdit

Rap battles includes a lot of braggadocio (bragging and boasting) content "combined with put-downs, insults, and disses. Battle raps are often written solely for the purpose of impressing people with technically inventive rapping[1], and knowing a wide variety of rapping styles and a wide range of MCs is recommended[2]. Some MCs started out writing mostly battle raps and battling other MCs before they began making records[3].


Battling is generally believed to have originated in the East Coast hip hop scene in the late 1970sTemplate:Citation needed. One of the earliest and most famous battles was in December 1982 when Kool Moe Dee challenged Busy Bee Starski[4] - Busy Bee Starski's defeat by the more complex raps of Kool Moe Dee meant that "no longer was an MC just a crowd-pleasing comedian with a slick tongue; he was a commentator and a storyteller"[4], which KRS-One also credits as creating a shift in rapping in the documentary Beef[5].

In the 1980s, battle raps were a popular form of rapping - Big Daddy Kane in the book How to Rap says, "as an MC from the '80s, really your mentality is battle format... your focus was to have a hot rhyme in case you gotta battle someone... not really making a rhyme for a song"[6]. Battle rapping is still sometimes closely associated with old school hip-hop - talking about battle rapping, Esoteric says, "a lot of my stuff stems from old school hip-hop, braggadocio ethic"[7].

Some of the most prominent battle raps that took place on record are listed in the book, ego trip's Book of Rap Lists, and include such battles as the Roxanne Wars (1984–1985), Juice Crew vs. Boogie Down Productions (1986–1988), Kool Moe Dee vs. LL Cool J (1987–1991), MC Serch vs. MC Hammer (1989–1994), Dr. Dre & Snoop Dogg vs. Luke (1992–1993), Common vs. Ice Cube (1994–1996), and LL Cool J vs. Canibus (1997–1998) - all of which include memorable battle rap verses[8].

In 1998, Robo Rob creates the first freestyle and text battle website known as Ell Oh Crew. The following year EOC battlers Axe and Fam Nice branched out to create the modern battle league format. New Jerusalem was the first full fledged battle rap website and resulted in what was the best looking and most modern hip hop website of the early 21st century. Unlike EOC, New Jerusalem (later known as Sacred Society) had interviews, hip hop news, a poets corner, and tournaments with rookie and pro levels. The top ten battlers of New Jeru/Sacred were also ranked every month and the top spot was known as the Supreme Lyricist. However, the award most highly sought out by battlers was the Esco Award  for the emcee with the grimiest, darkest content and style.

Rap battling in the mainstreamEdit

There are a number of mainstream rappers and underground rappers who base there careers on rap battling at points. Mickey Factz started his career in Sacred Society Battle League and has also coordinated and hosted many Ultimate Rap League (Smack/URL) events. Rapper Eminem, who battled constantly in the film 8 Mile is seen on several YouTube videos battling other mainstream and underground MCs.

Some of the most recognized battle leagues include Ultimate Rap League, Grind Time Now, King Of The Dot, Don't Flop, Queen of the Ring, and Flip Top.

Some of the most heralded battle rappers today are Iron Solomon, Math Hoffa, Truth, Envy, Dert Mobz, Aye-verb, Hitman Holla, Midwest Miles, Yung Ill, DNA, Cortez, X-factor, Tsunami Surf, Tech N9ne, Goodz, MC Larry, Shotgun Suge, Calicoe, Big T, Tiger Ty, K-shine, T-Rex, Rich Dolarz, Tay Rock, Illmaculate, Dumbfounded, Dirtbag Dan, Kid Twist, Dizaster, Jay Kastro, Madness, Organik (Host of King of the Dot),Don The Great, Justice, Charron, Knamelis, Nocando, Real Deal, NYG (New York Giant), Eurgh, 360, Hollow Da Don, V-money, The Saurus, Loaded Lux, Murda Mook, Soul Khan, Swave Sevah, Johnny Storm, Ness Lee, Rone, PumpkinHead, Uncle NeeNee, Kid Caustic, Frank Stacks, Mac Lethal, Hollohan, Loe Pesci, Pat Stay, Conceited, Paranormal Ezac, the kid Jay Trash, Bender and Jin.

Battle rap in popular cultureEdit

  • In 1998, Robo Rob creates the first text battle website known as Ell Oh Crew Freestyle and Battle Board.
  • Axe and Fam Nice are founders of the first battle rap leagues called New Jerusalem (later known as Sacred Society Battle League) and The Chamber.
  • The popular film 8 Mile starring Eminem is about rap battles.
  • Organik and Avi Rex co-own King of the Dot, Canada's first rap battle league.

List of Major Battle Rap Leagues (1990s-present): Edit

*Battle League, Year Founded


  • Ell Oh Crew, 1998
  • New Jerusalem, 1999
  • The Chamber, 2000
  • Ground Zero, 2000
  • Sacred Society, 2001
  • JumpOff TV, 2003
  • Let's Beef, 2005
  • GrindTime Now, 2008
  • Ultimate Rap League, 2008


  • King Of The Dot, 2008
  • Queen Of The Ring, 2010


  • FlipTop

Great Britain:

  • Don't Flop


  • Rap Contenders


  • VBT (VideoBattleTurnier)
  • RBA (Reimliga Battle Arena)
  • JBB (JuliensBlogBattle)
  • RAM (Rap Am Mittwoch)
  • DLTLLY (Don't Let The Label Label You)
  • RoyalBunker Battles
  • Streetfight Battles
  • Splash! Battles
  • BRT (BattleRapTime)
  • TBT (TimshisBattleTurnier)
  • HoS (Hall of Shame)
  • KKT (Kevins Kritisches Turnier)
  • EoR (Evolution of Rap)
  • FüD (Feuer über Deutschland)
  • BLB (BundesländerBattle)


  1. Edwards, Paul, 2009, How to Rap: The Art & Science of the Hip-Hop MC, Chicago Review Press, p. 28.
  2. Edwards, Paul, 2009, How to Rap: The Art & Science of the Hip-Hop MC, Chicago Review Press, p. 28-29.
  3. Edwards, Paul, 2009, How to Rap: The Art & Science of the Hip-Hop MC, Chicago Review Press, p. 29.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Template:Cite web
  5. Beef documentary, 2003, Peter Spirer, Aslan Productions.
  6. Edwards, Paul, 2009, How to Rap: The Art & Science of the Hip-Hop MC, Chicago Review Press, p. 25.
  7. Edwards, Paul, 2009, How to Rap: The Art & Science of the Hip-Hop MC, Chicago Review Press, p. 26.
  8. ego trip, 1999, ego trip's Book of Rap Lists, St. Martin's Press, p. 236-237.


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