Last week we published our list of the Top 10 Battle Rappers of the first six months of 2015. Reaction to it was ... spirited. It seemed like everyone had some issue with it, although those issues were completely different across the battle rap fan bases.
Some fans thought Danja Zone should've been at the top of the list. Others wanted to see Soul there. Many had never heard of Soul. Some asked why The Saurus, Caustic, Bigg K and Illmaculate were left off. Or Tay Roc and Tsu Surf. Or O'fficial.
I'm not going to address each one of these complaints individually, but will instead attempt to shed some light on our process.
People often think that because there’s consensus in their own online community that that is reality. It's only part of reality. Communities form because people have similar world views, and different communities reach different consensuses.
When looking at battle rap, you have to take all perspectives into account. The live crowd. The PPV audience. YouTube. Journalists. Bloggers. Message boards. Twitter. Reddit. Unbias. Talkback. Viewpoint. PLG. The Nu Filez. Angryfan. Da Batcave. A dozen more. Each one of these communities views the culture differently.
According to Versetracker, there are 30,000 battles between 15,000 battlers across 500 leagues. Add in the unending stream of events, interviews, blogs, tweets, Facebook group debate and forum discussion and it becomes impossible to engage with all of it.
Think of battle rap as a puzzle with an infinite number of pieces. Every time one of us interacts with any aspect of the culture, we pick up one of those puzzle pieces and add it to the picture of what we understand battle rap to be. Some of us have been building our pictures longer, others add pieces more frequently. But, depending on our preferences, we all end up with a different picture. Sometimes drastically different.
Keep in mind too that there are different ways to interpret battles. What's most important to you? Performance? Pen game? Popularity? Platform? Some other thing that starts with the letter P? How about authenticity, aggression, impact, flow, creativity, entertainment value, consistency, buzz, W/L record, level of competition or views? Do you watch the battles live or on YouTube? Do you watch them on your phone or a big screen? Did you watch every battle we mentioned on the list? Or just the ones from the battlers you already like?
The list isn’t just 10 names we riffed off the top of our heads. Every single name that made it (and several more that didn't) was debated over and over again for weeks with many close observers of the culture.
The panelists I selected are the editorialists for this site and/or people who I respect as deep thinkers and passionate fans: Jackson, Jason, Frankie, Adam, me and P from The War Report. Their six lists are below, without authorship. Anyone who can guess the author of each of the six gets 100 points. You might not agree with all of them, but if you agree with one, then we have accomplished our goal of finding a cross-section of opinions.
We all live in our own universes of experience. Sometimes battle rap fans forget that. Different people like different things, and that’s ok.
A #1 vote got the emcee 10 points, #2 got 9, #3 got 8 and so on. Here are the final point tallies.
Interestingly, Rone got the top spot (beating Chilla Jones by one point) without anyone actually having him as their #1 pick. He was just high enough on every list to cumulatively get the win. He and Chilla were the only two to make every list. Hollow Da Don, K-Shine and Pat Stay made five lists. Soul, Danja Zone and B Magic made four. Daylyt and Conceited made three. That's also the order of the final Top 10 list, which shows that the most important asset a battler could have here is cross-market appeal.
On this site we try to take a universal approach to battle rap, and our list shows the battlers who have made their mark across several different fan types.
There was a problem with the panel though. There were no women on it — not that anyone called us out for it. We’ll try to address that next time.
We want to know your list though. Fill out this survey and we'll release the fan Top 10 once we tally it up.
Also, congratulations on making it to the end of this article! We are in fact looking for a few more writers for the site. If you're interested, please send a "What To Expect" style writing sample for any match-up currently on the horizon to [email protected] We're looking for insight, writing ability and personality. Read the site for the overall tone. No longer than 500 words. Thanks!
Thoughts? Suggestions on ways to improve the methodology? Let us know in the comments below.