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I’ve written for a couple mainstream outlets about battle rap and it’s safe to say that it’s tough to communicate to people why battling is popping right now. Usually they’re still thinking 8 Mile, or at best their thinking Grind Time, but like any artistic movement in a renaissance, battling is changing and evolving with each passing year. That’s not to say that it gets bettereach year. Check out my Top 10 list from last year, if you compare this year’s top 3 to last year’s, it’s give or take. But now, having had a month to think it over, 2014 is looking pretty clear in retrospect. Many of the events that were supposed to be the best weren’t. Many of this year’s best battles came from the smaller leagues. On the other hand, there were far too many battles this year that just happened for the sake of happening. The biggest thing missing in battle rap right now is logic, narrative. Yes, Charron should battle Pat Stay because they match up in terms of skill and there’s history, and sure, Carter Deems should battle Head Ice, because it’s fuckin’ wild to even consider. Charlie Clips vs Hollow is the kind of battle you can advertise 6 months before it happens, because it makes logical sense. But a lot of battles happened this year seemingly just because they hadn’t already. Nonetheless it was a great year, thanks to some of the accepted top tier like Clips, Daylyt, and now Bigg K, and also thanks to some up and comers. Here’s the best battles of 2014, and some superlatives.
This is the first of two editor's lsits. Stay tuned for D-Rects. Hit me on twitter @jonreiss if you want to transfer some hate into my checking account
Bigg K may have had a metoric rise this year, but does he have 2 microwaves? Last year, I put Shuffle T and Marlo on my best of the year list for the same reason I’m putting this battle on this year’s list, it brings something wholly new to the game. Carter Deems' character has proven to be more dimensional that anyone would have expected and this match provides the best example of that character so far. Meanwhile, Knox put up a strong fight, by not really fighting but rather by being himself as well.
I was hesitant to put such a clear body on the list, but damn, this was just too good of a performance from Jaz not to make the top ten. By that criteria however, Clips’s performance vs Rex should also be strongly considered.
In this battle Suge showed up and performed with that aggression that is nearly un-matched in battling right now. Charron on the other hand showed that he is one of the only battlers that can go to any league, in any place, and get the entire crowd on his side. Style clashes really are fun to watch, as was proved by last year’s best of battle of the year, Illmaculate vs Bigg K. This battle will go down as one of the great style clashes in battle rap.
An excellent example of why URL is still the league that attracts the most eyes and the most respect. Holla remains the best pure performer in battle rap. Surf is eclectic in his delivery and unique stlyistically. This was a battle that deserved to be a Summer Madness Battle.
Pat Stay when he’s focused has that intangible thing that makes a great battle rapper. It can’t be taught or learned. He’s also entirely unique, unflappable, and good at controlling a crowd. I believe this is his best performance thus far. Dizaster performed extremely well also, but it was clear that Pat won this one pretty much from minute one.
The Whitney Houston and Bobby Brown of battle rap before they had a chance to go all Thelma and Louise with one another. Both of them showed why people find them so frustrating- both have so much talent that goes untapped most of the time, and yet both wield skills that are more or less diametrically oppsed. As such this was a style clash for the ages.
I have to think that anyone who just doesn’t really like Myers, still has to admit how talented he is. He has had one of the best trajectories in battle rap, from $200 and a backpack, to a lima bean in a time machine, to Aye Verb giving him props as the best of the new breed. Brixx Belvedere’s most famous battle is a clear loss. It’s pretty strange, but that he’s been incredible in nearly every battle since then. He’s one of the few battlers save for Hollow, Dose, Rone and few others that really incorporates flow and musicality in their rounds in a way that wins battles. This was easily among the year’s best.
3. TIE: Bigg K vs Danny Myers/ Bigg K vs Bigg Kannon
It’s really hard to choose which Bigg K battle was this year’s best. I watched Bigg K vs. Myers, Conceited, Magic, Thesaraus and Kannon twice over to pick which was best and ultimately couldn’t decide between these two. As far a battle that doesn’t dip or get boring at any point, this is the perfect example.
RBE leaped out in front of the pack this year as far as the tersiary leagues. Between the Lift His Soul Event and Blood Sweat and Tiers events, they proved that they are as capable of holding professionally run events with solid matchups as even the big three leagues. ARP acts and carries himself professionally and doesn’t bite off more than he can chew. He also throws battles that others wouldn’t and he seems to book battles more from a place of passion and less based on demographics or politics- often the result is battles like Bigg K vs Bigg Kannon. This battle is one that really holds up the metaphor of battles as actual battles. It felt like two people slugging eachother on stage, just trying to hold on and deliver that knockout punch. This is what happens when rappers try and it makes for a much better battle than when they don’t and say afterwards it didn’t count.
I realize that Chilla vs Daylyt would probably occupies most people’s top 5 for this year but in my mind, this battle, along with Daylyt’s battle vs Aye Verb were far better, both for Daylyt and his opponents. In fact, I’d call this Day’s best battle. His first round was so good, and so unique that people will be copying it for years to come. Charlie Clips of course proved why he simply has to be considered when deciding who is the Jordan of battle rap.
The battle was hyped to be legendary and it delivered. History was being made and the feeling was palpable. Both rappers then went on to take battles that denigrated the value of how good this battle was. Both rappers have rounds you can listen to over and over again. Both rappers delivered bars that sounded fresh. You could feel the ground breaking. Without a doubt this was 2014’s best battle.
After having last year’s best battle, Bigg K used that momentum to establish himself amongst the best in the game. Considering he’s still a somewhat new face, it’s a really impressive feat. Why is Bigg K great? Creativity and conviction. He’s also one of the few battlers that regularly rebuttals. He takes himself really seriously and thus the conviction but he still manages not to let that conviction hinder his ability to emote and perform.
Runners Up: Charlie Clips, Danny Myers
Best Event: Vendetta 2
Suprisingly none of the V2R battles were on this list, but at the same time none of them were bad and a few of them were great. That plus a relaxed venue, Lush and Aspect keeping things moving, a strong vibe as well as not too many battles made for a great event.
Runners Up: BO4, High Stakes, SM4
BO4 had a great vibe but the no shows hurt it. High Stakes had great batltes but the production (aside from actual video and audio quality) was off putting. Summer Madness was a really strong event, save for some audio and venue issues.
Best PG Battler: T-Top
Only a few wise fans saw T-Tops reign of the PG’s coming. He came through and utterly destroyed the UFF. It would be hard to imagine him not battling top tier opponents by the end of 2015.
Runners Up:Brizz Rawstein, Xcel, Prez Mafia
For UFF, the smart money was on Brizz, but surprisingly he fell flat during the last match. Otherwise, he’s likely to come out as one of the greats from this particular PG class. Prez is precedes that class but he’s one of the most memorable cats to come out of the PG’s in a long while. In fact, for all the hate Norbes gets, you have to hand it to him that he continues to find such a high caliber of talent.
Most Up and Down: Dizaster
I don’t care what people say, I’m a big Dizaster fan and there’s pretty much nothing he could do to change that. That said, him losing so clearly to Cassidy was a harder blow than tI could have imagined.
Runner Up:Qleen Paper
After no-showing for three battles, all of which probably would have been great battles, it’s almost easy to forget that he had to of his best performances this year.
Most Underrated: Brixx Belvedere
Didn’t have to think twice about this one. Brixx is innovative and intentional. If I had to pick a ghost writer, it would be him.
Runners Up:Lotta Zay, M.Ciddy
What happened with Lotta Zay? He was one of the best up and comers in URL then he suddenly disappeared from the big stage? He’s been great on KOTD, but deserves better battles. He’s a great mix of aggression and complexity.
I don’t understand why, but it’s easy to forget M.Ciddy, and yet every time I watch him battle, I think, “He’s the most underrated battler out there.” Without a doubt he’s among the most underrated and his recent battle with DNA proves it.
Illmaculate is always raising the bar with his music videos, and this week’s latest release with OnlyOne is no exception. Click below to watch the cinematic video for “Anonymous”, and subscribe to his channel by clicking here.
Two years ago, Drect wrote a blog on his personal blogspot page entitled “Lyrical Ladies: The 2012 Guide to Female Battle Rap.” (Before you jump into this life-altering written masterpiece, you’ll definitely want to read that one first.) The blog had around 15,000 views in a week and he realized he was onto something. Fast forward two years and the landscape of female battle rap has completely changed: the fan base is HUGE, events are packed, the emcees have been featured on tv shows and new woman have emerged as the face of the sport. Everyone from Snoop Dogg to Jill Scott and Remy Ma has admitted to indulging in the female rap battle
A lot of hip hop fans seem to have an obsession with female rappers. There is something about a woman spitting punchlines that makes the lyrical heart go round. If you don't agree, then you were born without a soul.
In the spirit of good ‘ol controversy, the staff here at Rap Grid has decided to shake up the world of female battle rap once more and rank these ladies for 2014.
*CLICK THE PICS & COLORED TEXT FOR LINKS*
Activity - Quantity over quality or the other way around?
Resume - Do the opponents look good on paper? No ducking allowed.
Crossover Appeal - Different crowds and leagues feel differently.
Delivery - Its not what you say, its how you say it.
Bars - Do the rhymes look good on paper? Originality is a plus .
Performance - The art of commanding an audience and controlling a room.
1. Ms. Hustle
The longest and most challenging decision to make at the offices of Rap Grid was between the number one and number two spot on our list, which changed several times. Both number one and number two can make a compelling argument as to how each won their battle against each other at Summer Madness 3 last year. With this being such a close call, we looked at other factors. Ms. Hustle shocked the battle rap world when she choked in the first round against Jaz (one “z”) the Rapper, but the footage dropped and ... what choke? Ms. Hustle went from a Queen of the Ring frequenter to a Cam’ron cosign (along with other hip-hop stars,) BET appearances and the only female battle rapper on two huge URL cards in 2014. At NOME IV she performed her ass off against Gattas in one of the best female battles of the year - Hustle was in rare form. Unlike number two on our list, Hustle’s opponent was at the top of her game during their battle. This makes the match all the more significant, as it leaves no questions or doubts - Ms. Hustle is at the top of the mountain. Add in the classic performance vs Ms.Fit and it becomes a little harder to argue. Hustle is comparable to Mook - no matter how you personally feel about her, she has that top spot until somebody really takes it from her.
2. Jaz The Rapper
Jaz's defining moment was against QB at URL's "Revelations" Event. She put on a crazy performance and kept her composure, while being on the receiving end of a supercharged first round and eventually pulling out a convincing win. This put her on everybody's map and had industry cosigns pouring in. When Jaz vs Hustle was announced for Summer Madness 3 last year, a lot of fans felt as though the winner would be crowned the #1 female battle rapper. After a slightly underwhelming battle, there wasn't enough evidence of a convincing win for us to change the rankings. This past summer, fans were seemingly robbed of a classic as Jaz completely destroyed a very unprepared 40 B.A.R.R.S at Queen of the Ring's "No Holds Barred" event. With a better performance from 40 or a clear win against Ms. Hustle, Jaz might just have our top spot.
For years, Gattas has been heralded as the best female battle rapper in the world by many leagues abroad. When Queen of the Ring started to pick up its pace and the new generation of females started making noise, fans began to question Gattas' resume and challenged her to battle other top names in the sport. Shortly after, Gattas and Bonnie Godiva were recruited by Drake and Organik for King of the Dot's World Domination 4 event in Canada, where they both put on a show. Bonnie Godiva's stock shot up and fans were reminded of Gattas' place amongst the top females. Two weeks later, Gattas debuted on QOTR for another classic battle against Chayna Ashley that had fans arguing for months. The icing on the cake was a monstrous performance against Ms. Hustle at NOME4, which proved to be battle of the night and one of the top female battles of all time. The only blemish on Gattas' record was her battle against E-Hart, in which she had a sloppy performance and forgot her rhymes in the 3rd round. Without that blemish, the argument for the #1 spot on our list would have been that much more difficult, but hey, 3 classics out of 4 battles in a year isn't too shabby.
4. 40 B.A.R.R.S
With undoubtedly the widest vocabulary on this list, 40 seemed to earn the title of QUEEN OF THE RING after her crazy performance streak against Tori Doe, Phara Funeral, Bonnie Godiva and Daylyt. Her momentum halted as she seemingly had a fall from grace when she took the humbling 3-0 loss from Jaz. An asterisk will forever be placed by Jaz’s victory due to the fact that 40 did not come prepared and fans weren’t able to see what could have went down as one of the best battles in history. As of late, 40 has had a slew of great battles against many male and female opponents, including a great performance against URL’s Cortez. Failing to put her name amongst the top female battle rappers is a foolish mistake.
Constistency, deadly bars, Hulk-like punches that obliterate the competition, aggression, performance and now freestlyes! O’fficial mixes all the ingredients needed to be the perfect female battle rapper seamlessly ... like a perfect cup of gumbo. She arrived on the scene with a 3-0 victory over Unique Barrz that had Chayna Ashley making Jaz faces and Couture lurking in the background as if she knew this would be a future opponent. After ridiculous showings against K. Prophet and Lexx Banko she had one of the best battles of 2014 with C3 and a toe-to-toe battle’s with Couture and Ms. Miami. The icing on the cake was her crazy battle against E-Hart at Snoop Dogg’s Gladiator school. With those skills and resume, what moved her down? One can make a compelling argument that her victories are debatables and or losses. A win over our number 2 would probably make her indisputable the queen of battle rap, but something tells us she will run into number 4 before that happens.
Hart is a pioneer that has done so much for the visibility female battle rap. After her win over Gattas and break down of Chayna Ashley, one could make the argument that she is, in fact, the best female battle rapper on the planet. The only issue is that E-Hart isn’t as active as some of the ladies on this list. A more active 2015 could see her rank higher.
C3 is one of the hardest females to defeat on this list, due to her ferocious freestyle ability and great pen game - the Maya Angelou “And Still I Rise” line was one for the ages. As hard as it is, Tori Doe seemed to have gotten the job done at Queen of the Ring’s NHB event this past summer. C3 has gone up against Lotta Zay, Tori Doe, O’fficial and Ah Di Boom (not out yet) in four amazing matchups. The underwhelming side to her battles is most of them are all debatable. The fans want to see C3 clearly 3-0 an opponent to set herself apart from the competition. Take a look at some of her highlights and you will see that she clearly has the ability to do such.
Couture is the people’s champ of female battle rap. Seriously, if you don’t believe us then go into any battle rap debate group on Facebook and say something negative about Couture. It would resemble dropping a raw steak into the Amazon River filled with piranhas. Mrs Worldstar earned a lot of fame after making Ms. Pak cry in a battle that ended up going viral. She is plagued with reputation of having “antics” or gimmicks in her battles, but the make for a great show. If you watch Couture vs Phara Funeral (not yet released) you will realize that her bars are slept on. The difference between her and a lot of other girls is CLEAR WINS (and one debatable with O’fficial) - she just knows how to get the job done. We almost got a chance to see Couture vs Jaz the Rapper, but it didn't go down and she ended up in the BET cypher instead. At this point we are waiting to see Couture against any of the top 5.
10. Tori Doe
Tori Doe is very fun to watch - her swag and demeanor are unmatched and she always steals the show. Her SUPER performance against C3 is what propelled her into the top 10. Like E-Hart, she isn’t as active as a lot of the girls, but Tori Doe is definitely a budding superstar.
Chayna Ashley - To many, Chayna may be a shoo-in for top 10, but we feel as though her loss against E-Hart set her back. Wait until you see her performance against Ms. Murk at Gladiator School. Its a goodie!
Ms.Fit - She hasn’t been as active and the battle with Bonnie was underwhelming. That performance vs Ms. Hustle was crazy though.
MyVerse - She is a rising superstar with an unorthodox and poetic style. Can’t wait til we see her against a top opponent.
These young ladies make it a point to show their cleverness using wordplay, schemes and most importantly, BARS.
Jaz the Rapper used to lean toward sophisticated set-ups ending in powerful punching bars that were criticized for being a tad too drawn out. Her battle with 40 B.A.R.R.S finally put her one weakness to rest as she came with rapid delivery while keeping the same complexity and power in the punch. Only time will tell if this will be a consistent thing from now on.
40 B.A.R.R.S is one of the best writers PERIOD. Instead of holding on and keeping fans in suspense she attaches syllables together like Grind Time rappers of the past, but she does it with meaning and a street vibe that’s more reminiscent of east coast battle rappers. You are so caught up in her wordplay and disses leading to the end that the finishing bars to each stanza hold the same weight as the beginning. This is a good and bad thing at times as fans want to hear her drop more Earth shattering haymakers.
If you missed O’fficial’s first bar, don’t even worry about it, another one of equal force is coming right behind it, but don’t cheer for that one because it will cost you to miss the next one coming right behind it. This is what you can expect from O’fficial each and every time! It is rare that we see a clever writer with such force and power since force and power is mostly used to mask when an artist doesn’t have bars. Being too consistent does have disadvantages as well. O’fficial comes in a straight line at her opponents the same way each and every time and this allows them to craft rounds more diverse and personal, which gives the audience a nice needed change and in doing so, they are more intrigued by what they hear about O’fficial. C3 was able to use this to perfection in her classic 3rd round versus O’fficial.
BonnieGodiva’s bars show this girl is a skilled writer that never fails to deliver on her punches. She listens to her critics and tries so hard to make her words and inflections believable, yet the emotion doesn’t always match, but punch for punch she can probably beat anyone.
Gattas is the most slept on lyricist on the list. This isn’t from her “lack” of bars, but because she chooses to use humor in her delivery, which goes against the east coast style of packing in the punches. Gattas is so much like another Chicagoan by the name of Ludacris. No one will ever tell you that he isn’t a lyricist. They understand if this was said to him, he would destroy them and could probably destroy their favorite rapper, but because of his humor his name doesn’t get mentioned as much as it should. When Ludacris had his first public war of words with T.I., he let off of the humor pedal and kept his foot on impactful words that invoked so much fear in T.I. that a sit down was arranged instead of a response. If Gattas follows suit and remove the humor at the right appropriate time and go for the kill, more people will respect why we have her on this list.
TOP 5 WITH PRESENCE AND DELIVERY
Gattas – No surprise right? It shouldn’t be! Gattas, when motivated (meaning forget the E Hart battle,) can pretty much guarantee you battle of the night if not battle of the year. In the ring she actually utilizes the squared-circle, which many veteran females have yet to master. From her expressions to involving the crowd, Gattas is going to make you get out of your seat and pay attention to what is going on. We give her the Presence of the Year award!
Tori Doe – You could say a line Tori said and people would look at you as if you were crazy. An example would be her remote control bar she said against C3. It wasn’t so much as to what she said that made it hot, but how she said it. Her tiny frame turns her into The Little Engine That Could. Just as you wanted so badly for that engine to get up that hill, fans want to see what she does in the ring and this anticipation along with her off-beat swag makes her a problem for opponents. Often cool with her movements, when it’s time to finish her set up something only known to Ms. Doe takes over and the force in her voice gives her bars the extra “umpf” needed that the fans love.
Phara Funeral – Remember the old Phara with the red finger waves? She set the gold standard for what delivery should be in female battle rap. The past year she has seemed a little less hungry than she was in the beginning of her career, but it would be a damn shame to not include her on this list. We loved that Phara Funeral vs Ms Murk battle.
Ms. Hustle – In the preview of Hustle vs. Jaz she ended her set-up with “…y’all gone think I’m the teacher’s pet when I leave her apple on the desk!” walked away then looked back at Jaz with a face so evil I thought she was going to cry. She meant that from her soul! Sometimes it’s easier to sell something when you believe it yourself. We compare Ms. Hustle to a method actor. Those are actors that truly believe they are the person they are playing often times staying in character off camera. This will be dented a tad with leaked footage of a fight with another great performer, but I’m sure that will easily blow over soon as the top female on our list graces the stage again for her next battle.
QB – If you didn’t know QB and only saw her in a picture, what would you think? Would you think she’d kill a baby? How about on stage when she raps things to such vile nature? I believe her. She has mastered the art of performance and delivery so much that no one cares about the shallow depth of bars. This is not why you go to a QB battle. You go to watch her disrespect the hell out of her opponent and trash her with perfectly delivered personals. She should invest a tad bit more in the bars in order to move into more categories on this list. QB vs Arsonal has potential to be one of the most entertaining battles in a while.
WAIT ... WHAT ABOUT ______ ?
You may think we forgot your favorite female emcees, but s/o to these ladies for having classics and being consistent over the years