With YouTube recently rolling out its Red platform, forcing all of its partners to upgrade their channels to a new format, it’s easy to forget that there was once a time of watching rap battles online before the ubiquitous video platform. From tape-trading VHS videocassettes to downloading grainy clips off of Kazaa and Limewire, YouTube made things much, much easier. Before the YouTube era, the last major spot for battles was JumpOff.TV with their ahead-of-its-time battle league that boasted the 2006 World Rap Championships.
For those unfamiliar, the WRCs were a league that attempted a hybrid-style of battling in the mid-2000s looking to bridge the gap between the SMACK DVD street-styles and the Scribble Jam freestyle-style. Judges awarded points based on punchlines, and separate leagues, all consisting of 2-vs.-2 teams, were set up in America and London to determine two division champions. These two victors would meet in the finals at the happiest place on Earth — Las Vegas — for one ultimate showdown to determine the 2006 World Rap Champions.
JumpOff.TV’s website had its own built-on video player, which is retrospect is pretty ambitious and revolutionary unto itself. A new battle would be posted every day in the qualifying rounds, making for several weeks of fans worldwide tuning in to see what new battle would go up. At a time when a YouTube search for “rap battle” would net maybe five pages of results, battles had never arrived in such volume.
After weeks and weeks (all pre-recorded on the same day as a staggering endurance test), finally the two teams of finalists were going to face off. They were America’s The Saurus and Illmaculate, and London’s Whashisface and Possessed.
There were three battles, but the first is, perhaps unsurprisingly, the best. Both teams wanted to make a statement and neither faced the fatigue of repeating opponents.
These finals were also historically significant as technically, this was the first iPPV (internet Pay-Per-View) rap battle with JumpOff asking for somewhere in the $2-3 range the day of for fans to witness the showdown. With fan response to the sudden surge in pricing (from “free” to more than twice as much — meaning actually asking for money) largely negative, JumpOff quickly removed the pay requirements and let fans watch this battle and the other two finals for free.
Every Thursday, BattleRap.com posts a classic battle that you should know about, or at least be reminded of occasionally. See them all here.