What Happened to Battle Rap?

This time last year the battle rap scene was bubbling over! Mook went crazy on the BET Awards. Joe Budden and Cassidy participated in two of the biggest celebrity battles of the year. Fredro Starr and Keith Murray were even scheduled to battle each other! Battle rap was being pushed so hard last year and now it’s like nothing ever happened. Battle rap went back underground faster than the light that shined on the scene at the time. Everybody thought the battle rap scene was about to blow up but it didn’t. Battle rap went right back underground to the depths of Hip Hop Culture. Rappers who’ve started out as battle rappers have had longevity in their careers. Redman was a battle rapper with Biz Markie. KRS-One of course is known as the ultimate battle rapper.

The come up of battle rap was letting mainstream rappers know that they could rhyme miles around any of them despite not being in the public eye. It reminded people that all in all Rap music is about the lyrics! There was mounting pressure for a lot of mainstream rappers that can’t rap at all. All you heard were crickets from a lot of mainstreamers. Then all of a sudden there was nothing; silence. Battle rap had went back underground. Partly because most of the battle rap emcees won’t sign with a major for sensible reasons. They know how to read so they read that contract and because they’re already getting money from battles they are in a position to decline. Most mainstream artists are young and broke so they’re coaxed, pressured, or desperate so they sign their publishing, merchandise, and name away to the machine of a major label. Next thing you know they’re at home or in jail with no label support. The labels were unable to figure out how to make money off of rap battles especially since battle rappers know their worth. They aren’t willing to pay because they want their money.

So the labels pull the camera off the battle rap scene because they can’t make money off of it. That’s the usual. Now pair that with this new instant gratification our youth are on because of technology. The best battle rappers don’t battle all the time. Some battlers only battle a few times a year. So in this world of “I gotta have it now” or “I don’t want to wait” that’s not going to work. Consumers have no patience. Especially when you have to wait for the video to come out days after the actual battle goes down. As all things that get the “Hollywood divorce” battle rap went right back underground. Remember when Three 6 Mafia won that Oscar? Immediately the group went back underground as if they never left. If battle rap would have made it would it have made it through the commerciality that plagues mainstream rap music? I don’t want to see a battle rap turn into a shell of itself like the parody below. A bunch of wack Dr. Seuss lines with an overreacting crowd.

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