Battle rappers are the modern day virtuosos of the urban music scene. These highly skilled artists captivate audiences with their lyrical prowess and sharp wit.
Deep rooted in hip-hop culture, rap battlers fuse dynamic artistic expression and fiercely competitive spirit to enthral their audiences.
Whether verbally jousting on street corners, or hyping things up on the stage, rap battlers continue to push the boundaries of hip-hop, mesmerising listeners with their vocal versatility and skill.
Let’s find out about some of the best battle rappers of all time.
10. Pat Stay
Canadian battle rapper Pat Stay has appeared in the Ultimate Rap League, King of the Dot and Rare Breed Entertainment. He was once the longest reigning Canadian KOTD champion and successfully defended his title three times.
Black Entertainment Television also included Stay in their list of top 50 battle rappers, writing that he was “one of the coolest personas in the battle rap space.”
Tragically, in September 2022, whilst attending a wedding in Canada, the rapper was found stabbed and despite being taken to hospital, later died of his injuries.
Tsu-Surf is a highly respected battle rapper from New Jersey. His ability to paint vivid pictures through his lyrics and connect with audiences sets him ahead of many other rappers within the genre.
Alongside his battle performances, Tsu-Surf has also released eight albums including debut record Tsu Me in 2013.
In a career spanning over a decade, Tsu Surf has built up a loyal fanbase and has since become a mainstay of the battle rap scene. He is famed for an aggressive demeanour along with clever punchlines and powerful stage presence.
American Rapper Bachir “Kirā” Yagami is also known by stage name Dizaster. His career began in 2012 and is now among the most viewed battle rappers on the internet with over a century of battles to his name.
Some of Dizaster’s past competitors include DNA, T.Rex and Swave Sevah.
Alongside his well-documented skillset in the rap game, Dizaster also moved into film and has proven to be a more than capable actor. He played Megaton in the movie Bodied which was produced by Eminem.
Dizaster remains undoubtedly one of the best battle rappers in the business with his millions upon millions of online views.
7. Hitman Holla
Hitman Holla rap battles on the SMACK/URL circuit and is a recurring contestant on Wild ‘N Out. He has an estimated net worth of around $3million with his rap battles gaining millions of views on YouTube.
Hitman Holla released his debut single ‘Ball Game’ in 2013 followed by ‘Diddy Dum Dum’ three years later.
Some of Hitman Holla’s most famous tracks include ‘Let Em Know’ and ‘Hitman.’ Battle rapping runs in his family with younger brother Showout also part of the scene. Hitman Holla has ventured into acting having appeared in the 2020 film She Ball.
Harlem born rapper K-Shine has built a reputation as one of the most electrifying performers in the battle rap arena.
Known for his high-energy delivery and rapid-fire flow, K-Shine commands the stage with an almost unrivalled intensity. His versatile displays and stage presence have earned him an ever increasing and devoted fan base.
K-Shine’s aggressive style often overwhelms opponents as he delivers hard-hitting punchlines and intricate wordplay.
Some of his tracks outside of rap battle include 2018’s ‘New Crib,’ ‘Word To The Block’ and ‘Harlem Is The World.’
5. Tay Roc
Known for his street-oriented style, battle rapper Tay Roc was born and raised in Baltimore. He has over forty battles posted online which have accumulated approximately eighty million views overall.
Some of his most famous records outside of his rap battle material include 2015’s Aroma Therapy and Transylvania Tape in 2020.
Tay Roc is a truly respected lyricist in the battle rap community and has been part of intense matchups against some of the biggest names in the industry such as Charlie Clips and Conceited.
Arsonal fearlessly tackles controversial topics and engages in intense verbal sparring with his opponents.
Both a battle rapper and recording artist, Arsonal hails from Newark in New Jersey and has undoubtedly left a lasting impact on the scene.
His confrontational style and ability to adapt across different battle formats has earned him a reputation as an incredibly formidable stage opponent. Arsonal’s most significant record away from the rap battle scene is 2005’s Training Day…In The Gardens.
3. Charlie Clips
Charlie Clips has a noteworthy freestyle ability to rap about all topics in various tones or moods. He has larger-than-life stage presence and charismatic personality, beating most of the URL rappers he’s faced during his battle career to date.
Clips’ face-off responses are well thought out, intelligently constructed and also contain elements of comedic flair.
His two most notable albums include 2009’s Stop and I Show You How And with his earliest recording being the EP From The Fight Club To The Yacht Club.
2. Hollow Da Don
Hollow da Don’s career took off with the birth of new-gen battle rap leagues where MCs could blend their freestyle raps with written rhymes.
He debuted on SMACK/URL against Chicago’s Big T in 2010. Hollow da Don has been consistently celebrated as one of the best battle rappers across fan communities.
He was named as part of 106 & Park’s Freestyle Friday Hall of Fame in 2006. Hollow da Don made his debut at NYC’s Fight Klub in 2008, displaying a freestyle ability that was coupled with rhyme schemes and punchlines that defeated the competition.
He won ten straight battles before finally falling to New Jersey’s Arsonal in a controversial matchup. His two studio records include The Only Thing Good in 2020 and We All Hypocrites released in the same year.
1. Loaded Lux
Legendary battle rapper and recording artist Loaded Lux was born and bred in Harlem, New York.
He is widely regarded as one of the most skilled lyricists in the history of battle rap and has delivered iconic performances. Loaded Lux has consistently proven his ability in crafting complex stories and delivering impactful punchlines.
He is often seen as an innovator within the battle rap scene. Loaded Lux’s two most recognised records to date are Beloved 2 from 2015 and Talk Dirty 2.
He will undoubtedly be remembered amongst the greatest battle rappers in the genre’s history.
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