Midway through the recent “Unfinished Business 2” event diehard fans might have thought, “dang, battle rap has had its day.” Then rappers Tay Roc and Tsu Surf‘s third round begins, and the battle rap community breathes a collective sigh of relief.
We’ve all seen K Shine, DNA, Tay Roc and Surf involved in classic battles as individuals—battles with well over a million views on YouTube. Battle one of this saga was headed to legendary status before K Shine got a little too physical on stage, breaking contract, resulting in a stoppage of the battle. Battle two, not so classic, and this will probably raise awareness on what Smack can do to better the sport once again.
The art itself isn’t dead. The essence of battle rap will always live, and always be entertaining. Smack/URL proclaims itself the world’s most respected battle league, featuring the world’s best battle rappers, and it’s hard to argue that. However right now the performance level isn’t where it once was. There was a time where you would get chills watching a battle. When Hitman Holla remixed for the first time, you can’t say that you didn’t rewind it on YouTube a million times just yourself. When Charlie Clips wouldn’t let X Factor rap for an entire battle, classic moments. The sport has to get back to those moments. When you see a tweet saying K Shine/DNA vs Tay Roc/Tsu Surf: The Rematch has dropped, that’s Christmas in the battle rap world. Turn the battle on and you’re immediately underwhelmed, and now you’re thinking if the league you love is really dying.
This most recent battle wasn’t a total bust. There were bars exchanged, and Tay Roc/Tsu Surf premiered the new “guess the celebrity” game in the third round which really had the crowd going. But for the most part, it was average. Maybe it’s the tag team matches. Battle rap has always been a solo sport. It’s like, it’s cool to see Venus and Serena Williams play with each other, but it’s nothing like seeing one of them dominate their opponent on their own. Being on that island alone, by yourself, is what makes battle rap so unpredictable. Having someone to lean on is like a cheat code. If you forget your rap, you know your partner has something in the chamber. How many people could have been saved by having a partner there? Could’ve changed the course of some battlers’ careers.
At this point, Smack, owner/founder of The Ultimate Rap League, might need to come back with bars over namecards, because right now the big names aren’t taking the sport as serious as they should. Clips recently lost a big battle to Rum Nitty because he was under prepared. Clips is arguably the #1 ranked battler in the league, and for a string of battles in a row, he’s showed up not ready to fight. This time, it hit him hard, losing to a hungry Nitty. To a guy like Tay Roc, even Surf, this doesn’t apply. They handled their business once again versus Shine and DNA, and individually they’re always ready to go. As leaders of the culture you have to commend both of them for that. It probably won’t be long before Tay Roc is the clear #1 in the sport, and he handles that well. Some of the other big names, just don’t take the sport as serious right now, and it’s probably time for Smack to usher in some new talent to kill off the weak.