I do not know how often I can say this to express how much I Love Hip Hop. As I have stated in previous articles, I  worry a lot about the future of my favorite genre. With the exception of very few, Hip hop has all but lost its edge. Like a fighter past his prime and showing his age, it’s gotten progressively soft recently. Remember my 25 and ups? Dre vs Eazy? Nas vs Hov? (My personal favorite) 50 vs just about everybody? As hip hop fans, we thrived on the entertainment, the competition. We wanted to see blood. Not in the literal sense, but we loved to see the best clash to see who was better. We could debate for months, even years about who the best rapper was, “Biggie, Jay-z or Nas?” When we were actually treated to a showdown, it was like MVP candidates facing off in the NBA Finals- glorious and intense! But it just faded and nowadays you have to decode sneak disses, and subtweets, while artist laugh it off in interviews. What happened? Where did the willingness to compete go?


If you are missing the boxing portion of hip hop, then maybe you, like me,watch all the battle rap leagues to feed your soul. Most notably the URL with Smmmmaaaccckkk! (Don’t forget to roll your tongue). I’m sure many of you have been hip to it for a while. I became an avid fan within recent years. Remember that hunger your favorite artist once had? These dudes stay hungry to poetically embarrass and damage any man placed in front of them. It’s not just about the money, it’s about who is the best. The respect factor. Who can get the most respek on their name. It’s pure blood sport. Every single bar counts, and it HAS to be dope. It’s lyrical boxing where every punch is a punch line. And every counter is a comeback. If you get caught slipping they show no mercy, neither does the crowd. Battle rap leagues have produced storied rivalries- Shotgun Suge vs Hitman Holla. Classic battles-Hollow da Don vs Charlie Clips. Legends, even-Loaded Lux (You gon get this work!) Some of the names mentioned are the most notable faces (Im a Charlie Clips fan myself.)



There have been times where it has surfaced to mainstream media. The freestyle battles on 106 and Park. Dudes like Conceited and Hitman Holla getting featured on Wild’n Out. Even industry rappers have taken notice. Some even hinted at the possibility of getting in the ring (but we all know Drake doesn’t really want any problems with Murda Mook.) We all know that Eminem, Royce da 5’9” and Cassidy came from those backgrounds. And of course the debacle between Joe Budden and Hollow da Don… Real hip hop fans know what it is. But is mainstream ready? Is the music world as a whole ready? Hip Hop is the only genre that has these types of competitive bouts. You will not see Darius Rucker and Tim McGraw have a cypher. It doesn’t work when Jamal on Empire walks on stage to battle a rapper with singing. Shouts to Charlamagne the God for giving the Empire writers Donkey of the Day for that.



Battle rap is very passionate and witty art form. It’s extremely emotional and filled with drama. It’s damn near a death match. Yes they do get paid. But do you know what means more than getting that “Chicken?” Respect. They do it for respect. Respect of their peers, from the streets, even from mainstream rappers. It’s for the art, the culture, the love. They do it for Hip Hop. Sure, some would like to have a deal and be more than a battle rapper. Who wouldn’t? But people overlook rap battle leagues as if it is the developmental league to rap but it is not. There is so much raw talent yet to be discovered. But people overlook it as if battle rap is not it’s own art form, worthy of respect. Battle rap does not get recognition because it’s not on the radio, or in the club and it’s not in plain-eye view. Real rap fans want hip hop back. Bars, schemes, creativity. We all love diss songs. It’s time to shift our attention to battle rap leagues for a break from the fast food. Hell, they are in each other’s faces! Something you probably will never see Drake and Meek do. Eventually this diamond will be dug from the earth. All I am doing is giving you all forewarning. Get hip man. Get hip.


~Gene Stamper


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