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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.
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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.