Hey you, on the screen, Reading this. If you’re wanting to up your rap battle game, then welcome to paradise.
Battle Rap, The art of lyrical Assassination. Battle rap is a very competitive art and like Karate, Boxing, or Wrestling, it requires an immense amount of training. There are many forms, styles, and techniques of battle rapping that take time and practice to master, but once you master it, you will be dangerous in the rap battle scene. Welcome to “How to Rap Battle, The Masterclass”. Enjoy.
What is Rap Battling?
Picture this, KOTD battle round, a group of rowdy hip hop heads standing around cheering as 2 of the league's finest rappers stand at arms length apart or closer. The referee calls for the first opponent to begin, and he starts to rap, acapella, to the crowd's wild cheers. That is battle rap. On Rappad, it may look more like votes pouring in and Frat promoting the battle and comment after comment, until...Someone wins and everyone else wants to battle them now. Rap battling is a complex art of insulting your opponent while making yourself look good. Learning your opponent and then using it in a battle to expose them, getting the crowd hyped with a line and then dropping a bomb on them. I feel that I am preaching to the choir, because I am on a rap website, so That is all I will say about what rap battling is.
Rap Battling: A brief history
Rap battling is rumored to have started in the East Coast area around the 1980’s. One of the earliest well known battles to happen was in December 1982 when Kool Moe Dee challenged Busy Bee Starski. The result was a victory by Kool Moe Dee. But we can see references of a sort of older version of rap battles in history, all the way back to the 30’s. What I'm referencing is a game called “Dozens.” This game was played more so among African American males of that time period. The game was used to test mental stamina, quick thinking and good delivery. 2 players would stand faced off and spew insults at each other, usually while an excited crowd cheered. Insults would get more graphic as the game progressed. These are some examples of both rhyming and non rhyming insults used in Dozens:
Participant 1: "I hear your mother plays third base for the Phillies."
Participant 2: "Your mother is a bricklayer and stronger than your father."
Participant 1: "Your mother eats shit."
Participant 2: "Your mother eats shit and mustard."
If you wanna play the Dozens Play them fast. I'll tell you how many bull-dogs Your mammy had. She didn't have one; She didn't have two; She had nine damned dozens And then she had you
Other examples include witty one-liners such as these:
Yo mom so stupid it takes her an hour to cook Minute Rice I saw yo mom kicking a can down the street and asked her what she was doing, she said movin'! Yo mom so fat she wears a phone booth for a beeper! Yo mom so fat she bleeds gravy! Yo momma so fat the restaurant in her town have a sign: "Occupancy of this room limited to 120 persons—OR YO MOMMA
This game of “Dozens” may be one of the earliest forms of Rap Battle.
The building blocks of Rap battling: Study, Compose, Practice, Deliver
Now that we are out of the boring part, we can talk about what everybody wants to know. How to rap battle. Rap battling is not just about what you do during the battle, though that is a big part of it, it’s also about the prep work leading up to the battle. Thus we have our building blocks.
Study: Before you can even think about writing rap lyrics for a battle, it’s probably a good idea to learn about your opponent. Get to know who they are, what sort of things they have done, who they’ve beefed with, who won battles, their battling record, listen to their music to get a feel for what they are capable of. In physical battles such as with KOTD or URL, rappers will watch their opponents previous battles and learn as much as they can about them. When I was set to battle SkinWalker(Though I had to cancel), I talked to people on Rappad that knew him, and they pointed me toward his rap battle content on other rap websites, so I built my material around what I had learned about him. So, before you even put pen to paper, watch their battles, or listen to them, study them, and then take notes.
Compose: Once you have studied your opponent and taken notes and learned about them, it’s time to compose your material. When building your material, build it around what you know about them, for example: PsychoPuppet knows that I formed my own battle league because BYOB went to discord, so he might say something like this in a battle: “JM formed the powerpuff girls, True Queens, cuz BYOB Discorded his spine after that last tourney/” PsychoPuppet did not actually say this, it is just an example and I threw it together pretty quick and not in his style, so excuse the shittyness, but that’s beside the point. My point is this, you know of something someone did, use it. Use it as ammo and build content. There are techniques to building good content as well. If you watch KOTD, the rapper Conceited uses tension and word break downs to diss someone. This is an example of that:
“This cypher will be passing shots spilling in your crewneck/ SLOW IT DOWN I JUST DISSED YOU!! I Said this cypher will passing SHOTS SPILLING IN YOUR CREWS NECKS/” - Conceited, KOTD Battle
So, when composing, use what you learned and then set up your lines to use tension and even use word break downs. Now this is not an absolute, there are other ways to compose good battle lyrics. Some ways are to use schemes, such as this one from one of my notebooks:
“Like Arnold, I guess I’m a cop for these pre-school kids/ Im the party pooper, it’s not a tumor but you know that my flow is deathly ill/” - "JMdaMizfit, “Arnold"
These lines have a common theme, Arnold Schwarzenegger. I made a rhyme scheme using references to his movies, while using it to compliment myself and show off my lyrical punchline abilities. That is another way to set up good lines. There are other ways to set up lines such as name flips and the like, but for times sake, if you want to know the science exactly behind setting up lines and want me to go deeper into the composition of rap battle lyrics, hit me up, if enough of you are interested, I might try to do another blog post on said topic.
Practice: It’s exactly what it says. Practice, Practice, Practice, and then Practice some more. You can never have too much practice. Practice like you are doing the actual battle. My old basketball coach told me to practice like I was in a game, give 110% because then when it really counted, I would give 110%. So do that. Practice. Take recordings of yourself rapping, and see what you think sounds good, show others and get their advice and opinion. If you're competing in a physical rap battle, listen to yourself rapping on your phone, even when you're going to sleep, to get it in your head. If you’re rapping on Rappad or Discord, then work on flow, delivery, cadence, and any other aspect you want to, but don’t over focus. Over focusing on minuscule details can take away from practice from the main thing you want to accomplish, having polished, solid, good quality bars and delivery. Practice, I cannot say it enough. Practice.
Deliver: Now, at this point, you will have studied, composed your material and practiced. Now it’s time for the battle. How are you going to deliver your verse to the audience. Delivery, or presentation, is one of the most deciding aspects of a rap battle. You can have good content and punches, but if you have a shitty delivery, you will lose. So, what do we do to fix that? When you practiced, you had to work on flow and delivery, so you should have your bars pretty solid for your performance, but sometimes, you may need to re-adjust your delivery on the fly. Say, you have a bar that was supposed to sound aggressive, but your opponent is acting a certain way and the crowd is acting a certain way or even if the way you rehearsed it doesn’t sound like it fits the situation, if you feel that it is the best way to do it, maybe you will decide to say the line more jokingly or clowning than you originally planned. So make sure you have a versatile delivery and can adapt when needed. On Rappad, you can just record your takes until you get one you like. All I will say on this topic is, don’t have a siri flow. You’re not a damn robot, have some life in your delivery and it makes your diss 100x better.
Wrap Up on how to Battle Rap
I won’t lie to you and say Battle rap is easy. Battle rap is complicated. All of the things I went over are somewhat complicated, but if you understand what it is and you practice, with time, it becomes easier. Time, practice, and effort are the keys to success. Talk to other battle rappers if you can, learn from them and their mistakes, take their advice and never stop trying to improve. In fact, make it a goal to improve with every song you do. If you really want to, it will happen. Success is 10% Inspiration and 90% Perspiration. Thanks y’all, and I hope you enjoyed this blog on How to rap. Can’t wait to see what you bring to the battle scene.
Written by: JMdaMizfit
Battle Rap here: Battle