Most of the time, great rap battles are created by circumstance; friends having a fall out, instigation, egos, etc. Its not often that a random match up with no history behind it is classic on both ends.
The recurring theme amongst battles in the top 10 is that they had history behind them, received a huge amount of exposure from media outlets or help change the culture. Any one of these ten could easily be number one depending on who you are talking to.
Hollow vs Pass is great in the sense that without having any prior knowledge of battle rap or insight into this world, anyone can see this and completely understand what this movement is all about. There were no disrespectful blogs or complicated backstory, no props, the crowd was great, hype men were not ruining the footage - it perfectly highlights the talent, who relied on skill alone to get their point across.
Another thing that makes this match so classic is the back and forth; it is almost impossible for an unbiased viewer to tell who won. In earlier rounds, its easy to pick Pass, but as time rolls on, Hollow’s strengths start to show and one has to rewind the battle to start forming an opinion.
Real Talk, Creativity, Jokes, Delivery, Rebuttals, Name Flips, Freestyle, Bars - anything you can think of is exercised by these two.
Often, people make the mistake of believing the two biggest names in any sport clashing is equivalent to the best mast. In reality, its those great performances that give us the defining moments. Hollow didn’t have to do this battle - he was already popular. I remember him saying that he wanted to give back to the culture and give someone else a chance to put their name on the map. Pass rising to the occasion made the moment that much better.
For the most part, hip hop is a culture that gives its “legends” preference over any new comers. For instance, its blasphemy to say that J Cole is better that Big L - people aren’t going for that. The beautiful part of battle rap is that people recognize growth and have no problem saying a legend may have to prove themselves in the ring with a newcomer. At one point, that constant need to prove yourself against healthy competition is what made battle rap one of the best outlets for aspiring emcees to prove and test their skills. Hopefully, the full force of that feeling comes back soon.
Memorable Moment - The whole battle was great, ill just leave you with some quotes:
“How is New York a stand up division when their foundation is Hollow” - Pass
“The last I heard he was a wack nerd that aint been seen since chaps shirts/
I’m like thats normal - y’all ain’t supposed to see him ... he’s a Password” - Hollow
The whole thing was quotable.
See you at the end of the year when I update the list.