Since the early 2000’s, a whole sub-culture of emceeing has made its way into the hearts of Hip-Hoppers that value raw lyricism over pop rhyming. People around the world have taken to YouTube with excitement (and before then SMACK DVDs, Lionz Den or MTV2’s Fight Klub), to catch their favorite stars spar in this the underground battle rap world. Street emcees have found their niche and the culture has not only developed into a premier genre of music, but as its own industry. Many attribute this business model to SMACK/URL, but quite honestly leagues from all over have turned lyrical combat bouts into serious money… building up their own set celebrities for fans to follow.
The Source is always in the midst of cultural revolutions. And with the help of the battle rap community (league owners, bloggers, artists & fans), we’ve curated a list of the Top 20 Battle Rappers of 2017. Topping the list are millennial fiyyah-spitters that prove that that this ancient rap art form (one that sparked the careers of early rap legends like LL Cool J, Roxanne Shante and Eminem) is still alive and well. If anyone thought that battling was dead, Remy Ma vs. Nikki Minaj and Murder Ma$e vs. Killa Cam put that notion all the way to rest in 2017. In fact, Ma$e has even reached out to SMACK/URL to start discussions about getting on the stage with some of the new cats (some of which are on this list).
The list is as followed:
1. TayRoc (Baltimore, MD)
2. T-Top (Fuquay-Varina, NC)
3. Brizz Rawsteen (Raleigh, NC by way of Wilmington, DE)
4. JC (Pontiac, MI)
5. Nu Jersey Tw0rk (Trenton, NJ)
6. O-Red (Newark, NJ)
7. DNA (Queens, NY)
8. Rum Nitty (Phoenix, AZ)
9. Cortez (Brooklyn, NY)
10. B-Dot (Pacoima, CA)
11. Loso (Tampa, FL)
12. Iron Solomon (Brooklyn, NY)
13. Ave (Norfolk, VA)
14. Geechie Gotti (Compton, CA)
15. Chef Trez (Atlanta, GA)
16. Goodz (Bronx, NY)
17. Shotgun Suge (Newark, NJ)
18. Ill Will (Pontiac, MI)
19. Arsonal (Newark, NJ)
20. Mike P (Long Island, NY)
What does this list show?
Pioneers of the genre such as : O-Red, Cortez, Iron Solomon, Goodz and Arsonal have shown they can still compete against the new and emerging talent of battle rap’s next generation. Vets such as Tay Roc, Shotgun Suge and DNA continue to prove why they command respect in every battle. Noticeably missing are female emcees. Though they did not make the list, femcees such as 40 Barrs, Shooney Da Rapper, E-Hart and Official were mentioned as contenders.
What probably jumps out most on this list is that about 90% of this new class of battle rap champions are not from New York, which has traditionally been the Mecca of the genre. It seems that genre has reached across the country- even out into the world with leagues like King Of The Dot (Canada), Real Talk Battle League (Australia) and Don’t Flop (England) begging to book these domestic artists at top dollar. Let’s see if next year is just as exciting.
Honorable mentions include K-Shine, Dizaster, Jimz and Charlie Clips.