Nine years ago, before YouTube became the go-to format for releasing rap battles, the tape-trading era came to an end with innovative hip-hop website JumpOff.TV. In 2005/2006 the London-based platform brought its dance battles and reporting on hip-hop culture to the U.S. with a few street battles shot with local talent including Iron Solomon, Nems and Syanide. Given how well these clips did, the then niche-battle audience thirsted for more, leading to the realization of the World Rap Championships.
The doubles teams were put into exhibition battles online, and the duos with the least number of downvotes (a bizarre way to determine the most popular) were granted entry into the playoffs. There were two divisions, one in London that U.K. fans had become very familiar with through JumpOff’s presence in the area, and one in New York. The two divisions consisted of six teams, with the playoffs all shot in one day. With at least three one-minute rounds each battle, a schedule that had each team battling each other twice (!), and the winner to be determined by round robin rules, it made for perhaps the most grueling day of battling one could ever take part in.
One of the best videos from this era came in the form of the ninth consecutive battle filmed that day, Madd Illz and Parable vs. Hommy Hom and Piff James. Walking the line between freestyle battles and street battles at a time when these circuits seldom overlapped, the stamina both teams showed brought the already-worn out warehouse crowd back to life.
It’s a unique set of circumstances for a battle that was duplicated the following year at the far more ambitious six-league 2007 championships, but the day-long endurance test is a model that has otherwise fallen by the wayside. Still, seeing both teams dig deep at the first signs of fatigue here shows exactly why they were amongst the best in the world at that time.
Every Thursday, BattleRap.com posts a classic battle that you should know about, or at least be reminded of occasionally. See them all here.