In the years of the World Rap Championships (AKA the mid-2000s), 2-on-2 battle rap was arguably at its peak. The most important battle tournament at the time being a team-vs.-team event elevated the status of freestyled doubles matches. The format has made a return to prominence again in 2015-2016, although this new version is different. Long gone are the days of relying on freestyles, as 2-on-2 battles have become intricately written and highly performative, to the point where battlers choreograph synchronized hand movements and bring high-concept gimmicks.
This week’s throwback battle is one of the best 2-on-2s of the written era, Bender and Loe Pesci vs. Kid Twist and poRICH from KOTD's Montreal division in 2010. This battle is actually a solid microcosm of the transition between freestyle and written — with Twist and Rich representing the freestyle era, and Bender and Pesci representing the transition into the written format that remains dominant to this day.
Twist and Rich had a ton of experience as a team, and it shows here. They go back and forth attacking their opponents, Rich with his trademark aggression, and Twist with his more reserved, humor-based style. The contrast between them may actually be their greatest strength in the battle, as it allows for greater versatility.
At the time of this battle, Bender was thought to be an unstoppable force, rolling through everyone and about to take the KOTD chain. Unlike some ideas that seem crazy in retrospect, this fact remains completely accurate. This is Bender in his prime, showing his skills as one of the best writers in the scene. If I wrote out the entire Robert Oppenheimer scheme he uses in this battle I’d likely go over my word limit, so suffice it to say, it’s one of the more impressive multis that Bender has ever said.
Pesci in this battle shows why it is that he was (and by many, still is) so respected. His writing and delivery are both top notch here, and he avoids his Achilles heel of chokes and/or stumbles. This is Bender and Pesci at their best, both as individuals, and as a pair (although they only teamed up again once after this). It would be nice to see Pesci make his battle return, but even if not, at least he did leave us with many strong performances.
This battle could be considered a changing of the guard in doubles battles. Sure, it was contested between four Canadians, but Rich and Twist were arguably the best team from Canada during the freestyle era, and they were seen by many as taking the L here. This was a time when freestyling was considered a key ability for a battler, and Bender and Pesci’s performance was enough to make even the most hardcore freestyle fan take notice that things were changing. Five years later, freestyle 2-on-2s are (mostly) a relic of the past, and URL is bringing the latest style of doubles matches to a new audience with "Double Impact."
Don't miss our brief history of 2-on-2 battles.
Every Thursday, BattleRap.com posts a classic battle that you should know about, or at least be reminded of occasionally. See them all here.