With so many battles coming out every day, it's easy to miss out on good ones, especially when they're from local leagues that don't get much national attention. Here's our list of the most underrated battles from 2014, all of which had under 40,000 views at the end of the year. Stay tuned for our upcoming lists of top battles from URL, KOTD, DF and more.
Fliiko L vs. Chef Trez
Who: Two of Spit Dat Heat’s youngest up-and-comers, Chef Trez (Lawrenceville, Ga.) and Fliiko L (Atlanta, Ga.)
Where: Spit Dat Heat’s "No More Talk Vol. 2" event in Atlanta, Ga.
When: Aug. 17, 2014
Views in 2014: 15,100 since Oct. 13
Why you should watch it: Fliiko L sets off the battle with a next level performance, spitting back-to-back punchlines just inches from his opponent’s face and showing off an air of ferocity seldom seen by newcomers. His word play is fresh too: “How you gonna hang with a pro? / Nigga, you’re a noose since (nuisance) I can show you the ropes.”
Chef Trez matches his energy, catering to the crowd with his outstanding performance. Trez couples his stellar delivery with his outstandingly clever pen game, landing increasingly complex punches as the battle progresses. “Big machine fuckin the city up, Transformer kick / Clappin everybody up at the end; good sportsmanship.”
Megadef vs. A-Class
Who: Ground Zero emcees Megadef (Hollywood, Cailf.) and A-Class (Baltimore, Md.)
Where: A random spot that the Fresh Coast GZ’s The Rebirth event got relocated to in Fresno, Calif.
When: Oct. 18, 2014
Views in 2014: 7,719 since Nov. 29
Why you should watch it: Megadef comes out of the gate swinging with a barrage of disrespect and bold-faced racial angles coupled with a nearly flawless delivery, weaving between sheer rage and a calm disposition: “I’ll take a toke of your spliff / And let this shotty slide this gook’s body across the road; that’s a Tokyo Drift”.
A-Class shows his versatility by starting his round with a couple of genius flips. He matches Mega’s intensity with an extremely creative pen game, executing concepts and angles with extreme efficiency and often ending his schemes with brilliant haymakers: “You say you chill with Russians drinkin vodka heavy / They pour it (poet) with a fake Def (death) like Machiavelli."
Reverse Live vs. Madflex
Who: Up-and-comer and favorite among die-hard fans Madflex (Richmond, Calif.) battles Fresh Coast veteran Reverse Live (Hollister, Calif.)
Where: Power and Respect’s "P&R 831" event in Santa Cruz, Calif.
When: April 12, 2014
Views in 2014: 2,805 since April 14
Why you should watch it: Reverse is in top form here, spitting a hail of ill multi-syllabics and just generally rhyming his ass off. His writing relies heavily on the use of assonance and internal rhyme, making his verses sound superb in terms of flow and rhythm. He does all this while setting the bar very high with his lyrical content as well: “This supreme being crush the Pantheon, laugh at gods / I’m an atom bomb that was thrown amongst you cannon balls."
Madflex uses his off-kilter stop-and-start flow for his outstanding comedic timing, often rushing through a long rhyme scheme only to end with a hilarious joke that breaks the tension. He brings a refreshing blend of seriousness and comedy, which harmonize perfectly despite the contrast in tone and delivery. “I got news for you; Lush in Time Cop … your favorite form of exercise is iHop.”
Syd Vicious vs. Isaac Knox
Who: Hometown favorite Isaac Knox (Orlando, Fla.) takes on seasoned heavyweight Syd Vicious (Atlanta, Ga.)
Where: Season 1 Episode 3 of Grind Time Now’s "Just Battle" event in Orlando, Fla.
When: July 5th, 2014
Views in 2014: 5,875 since Aug. 26
Why you should watch it: Isaac shows his improvisational skills almost immediately in his first round, warming up to the crowd with an observational freestyle about Syd’s shirt, and manages to land with another freestyled flip in the second round. He fully displays his writing ability in this battle, bringing razor sharp schemes with brain busting complexity. “If your boy caught (boycott) on the bus, even if your people white / I’ll left jab him to the back then give him equal rights.”
Syd flips Isaac’s freestyle from the first round, displaying impressive freestyle skills as well. Syd also comes with a resoundingly loud delivery, making his opponent look small off the strength of his voice. He builds up momentum perfectly in these rounds and finishes very strong in all three. “I could draw the K or let the DE spray / or give both them ratchets a ring, nigga; Stevie J”
J Murda vs. True Maserati
Who: Two fast-rising up-and-comers from New York, J Murda (Brooklyn, N.Y.) and True Maserati (Brooklyn, N.Y.)
Where: Traphouse’s "All Out War" event, New York City, N.Y.
When: Oct. 11-12, 2014
Views in 2014: 11,118 since Oct. 26
Why you should watch it: This may be one of the most authentically “New York” battles in recent memory. J Murda has a top tier delivery, no question. He absolutely spazzes in this performance, giving 100% on every line until he's red in the face. His lyrical content matches his delivery with respect to absolute ruthlessness and intensity, peppered with threats of violence and tough bravado: “See I’m mad you’re comparing Air Max 95s to Uptowns, that’s why I’m upset with ya / Cause yeah he might bubble a bit, but I’ma leave with my checks (cheques) bigger!”
True Maserati showcases a very flashy pen game in this match, frequently astonishing the small room with his cleverness and back-to-back, rapidfire punches: “I need a shoulder strap to carry the llama / I air it out, put it down, reload, and bring it back up like ‘That’s a reminder!’”
Tumi vs. Ness Lee
Who: Former Grindtime and current King of the Dot competitor Ness Lee (Atlanta, Ga.) takes on established and reputed South African/Tanzanian emcee Tumi (Soweto, South Africa)
Where: Scrambles 4 Money's "Talk Is Cheap 2" event in Johannesburg.
When: April 26, 2014
Views in 2014: 37,654 since May 6
Why you should watch it: Tumi is a relatively well known hip hop artist in his home of South Africa. Immediately in this battle you can tell his presence demands a certain respect from people in his scene. Regardless of his clear advantage in terms of location and reputation, Tumi’s performance is excellent and extremely unique. His style is abstract, with a random placement of unexpected haymakers he seems to almost grab out of thin air. His crowd control is next level, allowing him to hold the crowd’s attention only to make them erupt seconds later with an abrupt, show-stopping punchline: “Nigga, you still holdin out for Lux? / He couldn’t get Smack if Lamar Odom (owed him) bucks”
Ness Lee starts off his first round with two absolutely crazy rebuttals, flexing his freestyle ability immediately. His performance is commanding, but at the same time he exudes nonchalance and effortlessness only seen among the most comfortable of veterans. Lee’s written material is dense as ever, overdosing on internal rhyme and intricate punchlines: “Battle rap? I really do that fam / as far as him? Wolverine, just a huge act, man (Hugh Jackman).”
PoRich vs. Ape Yola
Who: Former King of the Dot Champion PoRich (Whitby, Canada) takes on Ground Zero favorite Ape Yola (Vancouver, Canada)
Where: King of the Dot’s "Gastown" in Vancouver, Canada
When: Feb. 22, 2014
Views in 2014: 10,400 since March 12
Why you should watch it: PoRich takes a very personal approach in this battle, hitting his opponent with a range of scathing insults in his signature bellow. This performance is vintage Rich: loud, disrespectful and very Canadian. He receives boos and jeers from Vancouver’s crowd for his insults directed toward the local battle scene, but gets them right back on his side seconds later with his undeniably dope material: “Second verse, it's already getting worse / I got this bitch on red alert like a Ukraine rebel weapons search.”
Ape Yola responds dramatically, making the crowd go crazy by rebuttaling Rich’s personal angle at the beginning of his second round. His comedic timing is precise and he consistently has the crowd laughing at jokes about Rich’s height, hometown, and past matches. He also snaps into moments of seriousness, bewildering people in attendance with his rapping ability, then bringing them back into fits of laughter by ending the scheme with a joke, “How you gonna do harm with those two arms? / My hands are the same size as your shoes are and your shirt size is a youth large.”
This battle was unfortunately affected by camera issues, so the angles are not the best but the battle itself is definitely worth the watch.
Jonny Storm vs. Cortez
Who: Grindtime veteran Jonny Storm (Orlando, Fla.) takes on Total Slaughter contestant Cortez (Brooklyn, N.Y.)
Where: HomeGrown Battleground’s "World War Z" event in Norwich, Conn.
When: March 22, 2014
Views in 2014: 28,783 since March 31
Why you should watch it: Cortez is absolutely fluid here, and he makes it clear from his first round that his goal is to outrap his opponent. His style is polished and his hardened rapping skills are on full display. Cortez weaves in a variety of dope punchlines and insults while executing his patented flow and style perfectly: “Your music less than great, it's second rate / You wouldn’t get a check out the booth on election day.”
Jonny Storm comes with squeaky clean four-bar schemes that consistently end on a huge punchline. Steady haymakers land throughout his rounds and his blunt, plainspoken style provides a great contrast to Cortez stylistically: “I'ma slaughter this retard / All it takes is one four to put Cort in the ER / that’s one fourth, a quarter, Cort, ER?”
Carter Deems vs. Lex D
Who: Hilarious rapper and very nice person Carter Deems (Atlanta, Ga.) goes up against fellow comedian Lex D (Inland Empire, Calif.)
Where: Ground Zero’s "Counterpoint" in Tracy, Calif.
When: Jan. 18, 2014
Views in 2014: 15,241 since June 3
Why you should watch it: Lex D warms up the crowd first with an extremely enthusiastic performance, connecting together amusing one-liners and entertaining the crowd with his sense of humor. He blesses the venue with his signature arrow bars and moves through a wide range of topics from Carter’s obsession with cats and his nerdiness: “You’re like the kid from Breaking Bad with Cerebral Palsy / Except the kid has a lot less Cerebral Palsy.”
Carter starts off with a priceless introduction before the battle even starts. It becomes apparent he is too wholesome and friendly to directly make fun of his opponent, and he instead launches into a tirade of compliments and very revealing facts about himself. Carter truly kills this battle with kindness: “I woulda came here with no shirt on, hair flowin, ridin on horseback / But me and my Dad got in an argument and he won't give me my horse back”
N Pose vs. Bulle
Who: Ground Zero favorite N-Pose (Detroit, Mich.) takes on Toronto GZ and BeastMODE vet Bulle.
Where: Beastmode’s "Volume 30" event in Toronto, Canada
When: March 1-2, 2014
Views in 2014: 1,150 since March 26
Why you should watch it: Bulle’s specialty is punchlines. He hits with a barrage of similes here, connecting harder with every one as the battle progresses. His style is frank and beautifully simple, but not to a fault, as all his lines land and he manages to pull off a really dope performance here: “I could say fuck this rap shit and kick his teeth out / but I prefer battle rap cause the shit is legal.”
N-Pose is unexpectedly funny here, taking a whole round to clown on Bulle about his weight. He looks extremely comfortable in this room and executes some next-level crowd control, laughing at his own jokes and getting involved with the audience. N-Pose’s boldness and confidence goes the extra mile to sell his already dope written material: “Just cause I'm fuckin you up right now, don’t mean that we beefin / and Bulle, just cause it fits in the microwave my nigga, it don’t mean you can eat it.”
For more info on any of the battlers, follow their tags below or check the rest of our year in review content.
What other slept-on battles did we sleep on? Remember, it has to be under 40,000 views. Post links and descriptions in the comment section below.