After much discussion, debate and deliberation, our panel of experts has settled on a list of the Top 10 battlers for the first six months of the year. The final order was compiled by averaging out six separate Top 10's from some of BattleRap.com's editorialists and a couple of other experts in the scene. Make sure you read the Top 5, and our full breakdown, individual lists and methodology.
Despite only battling twice, Brooklyn’s Conceited managed to keep himself at the top of the game through various media avenues, and was one part of the only million-view battle of the year so far (which incidentally has now passed two million). His match-up against a returning Dumbfoundead was Con at his animated best, trading playful jabs and clever punchlines in front of Drake and the rest of the "Blackout 5" audience.
The footage would have done great numbers regardless, but the fact that the clash lived up to the hype and was easily comprehended by a mainstream audience pushed it into the next level of battles that will garner massive numbers for years to come, especially since it features two guys whose stars are still rising.
On the entertainment side, Conceited kept up his momentum in pop culture as new episodes of MTV2’s Wild ‘N Out started airing. This was his third season on the improvisational hip-hop/comedy show, and he has become a fan favorite. Just ask his 1.5 million Facebook followers.
How many battlers could walk out of a battle during their first round and still be considered as having a tame year? How many battlers would do six battles in six months and not be considered particularly active? There are ways we judge all battle rappers and ways we judge Daylyt, and so, to put things into perspective, let’s look at what Daylyt has done in the first half of 2015.
At "Blackout 5," he had one of the best performances of the event against recording artist Madchild and provided the biggest line of the event (“I’m a little teapot”). In 413 Battle League he put on an entertaining, light-hearted battle with Uno Lavoz. Against Ooops, he was part of one of the most poignant and talked-about battles of the year. He had a Quiet Room battle versus Chef Trez and Ah Di Boom. At "Back To Basics 2," he headlined against Danja Zone.
Outside of just his battles, he has been instrumental in the formation of Writers Bloque, a collective trying to raise the level of writing in the scene. Oh, and he was recently invited on stage to rap with Lupe Fiasco and regularly catches the attention of mainstream media.
By the standards of Daylyt, 2015 has been a slow year. For almost anyone else, these six months would be seen as the best year they could ever expect to have.
8. B MAGIC
By taking fewer match-ups this year, Magic has reminded us that he’s one of the best in the world when he’s on his game.
A lot of emcees get by on personality alone, using their charisma and stage presence to win in the building and then relying on their online followings to back those wins up once the footage drops. B Magic is not one of those guys. It's the quality of his content that wins him battles.
His NOME 5 match-up with Ty Law was the best from that weekend and he followed it up weeks later with another strong showing at Spit Dat Heat against Chef Trez, both contenders for Battle Of The Year.
With his match-up with Pass getting bumped for Mistah FAB’s birthday party at "Battle Of The Bay 7," it’s hard to know whether he would have won or lost that battle, but since he dropped the verse we know that he didn’t slack with his writing at all.
Normally we’d wonder how this style would fare on the big stage, but Magic already proved how well he translates in his battle with Conceited last year.
7. DANJA ZONE
2015 has been coming up all Danja Zone so far. The man has not lost, and he’s done the impossible in shedding the “cornball” stigma that befell him after getting mercilessly clowned by Goodz in a one-rounder last year.
Saying he hasn’t lost actually doesn’t go far enough. What he did to Lotta Zay is unspeakable, and it caused Lotta to literally throw in the towel during the battle. One might argue that beating Verb in a one-rounder marked the true beginning of the turn away from that fateful day versus Goodz, but it’s a relatively mild entry compared to his more recent showings. Who knows where this new confidence came from, but to go from having your footwear roasted on a “What are thooooose!?” level of ridicule to swagging on opponents is really something to see.
Although he publicly mourned battle rap’s departure from its lyrical roots versus Lotta, Danja Zone is a lot more versatile than you might think. As you’ll see in his Daylyt battle, he now has jokes, rebuttals, and charisma. With all the ingredients of a top tier battler, it may be just a matter of time until he gets his due.
Soul didn’t let a little thing like a Don't Flop title shot against a well-rested opponent get in the way of a world battle tour. He was incredibly active in the first six months of 2015 and never let his quality slip — killing it in Toronto, Calgary, Atlanta, London and Johannesburg so far this year — all technically away games for the Scot.
He may also be the most impressive all-around emcee on this list. His jokes are funny, his wordplay is clever, his concepts are fresh, his reference game is deep, his multi-syllabics are complex and his angles are usually bodybag material. Like many of the best in the scene, he seems kind of annoyed by battle rap as a whole, which provides extra venom when he's breaking down his opponents.
If you're unfamiliar with his work, here's a solid primer:
Soul also reached the pinnacle of the U.K. scene, bringing home the title against Cee Major in one of the year’s best battles. Tony D was smart to get out of his way.
Now read the Top 5, and check the honorable mentions and a full breakdown of the awards. Or read our picks for the top breakout battlers of the year so far.
Thoughts on the list? Let us know in the comments below.