The Top 10 Rap Battles From May

With selections from URL, KOTD, Don't Flop, RBE, Bullpen, iBattle and The Trap NY.

May was mostly dominated by one battle: Pat Stay vs. Hollow Da Don at KOTD's "Massacre 2." Between the lead-up, the battle itself, its rapid release to YouTube and the reaction from battlers and fans, the match made a ton of noise.

That's not to say that there weren't dope battles from other platforms though.

Here are our picks for the month's best battles. Let us know your favorites from May in the comments below.

Hollow Da Don vs. Pat Stay

Who: Hollow Da Don (Queens, N.Y.) vs. Pat Stay (Dartmouth, Canada)
Where: King Of The Dot's "Massacre 2" in Cambridge, Mass.
When: May 15, 2016

I question what you’re doing with your life if you haven’t seen this one yet, but fear not: you can check out my thorough breakdown of the battle here.

Soul vs. Raptor

Who: Soul (Dunfermline, Scotland) vs. Raptor (Manchester, England)
Where: Don't Flop's "Checkpoint 3" in London, England
When: April 23, 2015

One-sided title matches typically aren’t the best, but sometimes replay value thrives off the strength of one performance. Reigning champ Soul is a force of nature here, and it’s hard to imagine what it would have taken to overshadow his rounds. It’s not like Raptor shit the bed though, and his solid performance should serve as a cautionary tale to future challengers.

With this battle, you can watch a pretty typical story unfold: a newcomer quickly rises to the top of his scene and takes on the champion, only to get clobbered in every round. To say Raptor didn’t deserve the title shot would be ridiculous though, and his first round was looking tough to beat … until Soul outdid it on every level. Raptor is always good for dense patterns and grimey one-liners (e.g. “I can end up behind bars way quicker than you can write them”), but the range of Soul’s performance made those appear like the extent of his capability.

In a disgruntled opening scheme, Soul made it clear that he was probably not going to slip up and certainly not about to lose to a relative newcomer. The breadth of his content — from intensely personal angles to the state of battle rap/the world — makes Raptor’s material seem truly inconsequential. Soul has always been versatile, but in terms of fluidity, this is probably his best performance yet.

Daylyt vs. The Saurus

Who: The Saurus (Las Vegas, Nev.) vs. Daylyt (Los Angeles, Calif.)
Where: KOTD's "Back To Basics 4" in Los Angeles, Calif.
When: April 16, 2016

I’ve already written about this battle at length in our recap of KOTD’s “Back to Basics 4,” but definitely don’t miss this one. 100% effort and typically absurd writing from Daylyt combined with The Saurus’ more personal material make this a highly replayable and debatable back-and-forth.

Chess & Steams vs. Marv Won & Quest Mcody

Who: Chess (Bronx, N.Y.) & Steams (Brooklyn, N.Y.) vs. Marv Won (Detroit, Mich.) & Quest Mcody (Detroit, Mich.)
Where: URL's "Double Impact" in Manhattan, N.Y.
When: March 26, 2016

URL’s “Double Impact” was good for at least two things: (1) Gun Titles and (2) reminding everyone that Marv Won and Quest Mcody are two veteran names not to be toyed with on any stage. Chess and Steams are actually great as a team, but what were they to do against a seasoned Detroit powerhouse with a point to prove?

Given the circumstances, Chess and Steams’ chemistry and material are pretty impressive. Steams is way sharper this time around and once again alley oops Chess to some room-shaking haymakers. But the problem for them really was that simple: what the hell were they going to say to Marv and Quest?

Conversely, Marv and Quest had a LOT to say to Chess and Steams, not to mention the URL crowd and staff. Why do you youngsters rely on theatrics? Why do you all cheer for generic wordplay? Why do you not book us? It’s all extremely compelling, and their almost unparalleled chemistry definitely doesn’t hurt. Just as the 2-on-2 wave seemed on the verge of fizzling out once again, performances like this and Gun Titles' keep the demand high.

Kush Cloud vs. Anubis

Who: Anubis (Flint, Mich.) vs. Kush Cloud (Buffalo, N.Y.)
Where: The Trap NY's "Death is in the Air" in New York, N.Y.
When: April 17, 2016

Small league bar-fests have a way of inevitably making their way into these monthly lists, and Kush Cloud and Anubis definitely earned their spot. Yes, the crowd goes crazy a bit too often and the rounds are pretty long, but you'd be doing yourself a disservice to skip this.

Anubis was in need of a strong showing after losing to Saint Mic on URL, and Kush Cloud deserves more attention in general. His delivery could use some work and his rounds tend to drag at times, but I can guarantee he'll surprise you with at least a couple of lines. Even if constant wordplay barrages aren't your thing, there's always something to be said for a positive atmosphere and two sharp performances.

Syah vs. Chef Trez

Who: Syah (Atlanta, Ga.) vs. Chef Trez (Atlanta, Ga.)
Where: Bullpen Battle League's "Southern Crown" in Atlanta, Ga.
When: April 23, 2016

For someone whose name is touted as one of battle rap’s most underrated as often as his is, Syah hasn’t been winning much lately. Although he always performs well, he’s recently lost to Arsonal, DNA, and now Chef Trez. It’s probably not actually what he’s doing wrong, but what he’s doing right, which seems to be bringing the best out of his opponents. As for Trez, we’ve been calling him one of battle rap’s top free agents for a while now, but he seems to have found a home at John John Da Don’s Bullpen Battle League.

I would say this is a preference battle since Syah’s material is fire and probably enough to give him a round, but you’d have to hate constant haymakers not to give Trez the W here. Admittedly, the editing is a bit much at times (the Tom Bombs have been well received until now!), but it’s no wonder the editor got a bit carried away.

QP vs. Bangz

Who: Bangz (New Haven, Conn.) vs. QP (Stockton, Calif.)
Where: iBattle's "Allegiance 4" in New Haven, Conn.
When: May 8, 2016

The fact that QP is one of battle rap’s best writers is old news, but this battle is merely a reminder. The gap in quality between this performance from Bangz compared to his recent KOTD debut versus DNA, however, is staggering. Sure, it’s at least partly because he’s in a small room with home-field advantage, but Bangz definitely thrives in this footage.

If you got into battle rap because you love watching dudes really attack each other on a personal level, this is not for you. If you got into because you like watching dudes say shit you would probably never think of, you'll love every round. QP's wordplay is layered and unpredictable as always, but Bangz' bars get truly bizarre. If you're at all into this sort of thing, definitely don't sleep on this one.

Rosenberg Raw vs. Heavy Half

Who: Rosenberg Raw (Pa.) vs. Heavy Half ()
Where: RBE's "Validation 2" in Queens, N.Y.
When: April 16, 2016

By now, you may have heard about this battle for the wrong reasons, as ARP made the controversial choice of briefly editing Rosenberg Raw’s footage to counter a point Raw was making in his first round (ARP explains everything here). Regardless, this is a surprisingly intense back-and-forth between two starkly different approaches.

He’s still very much an up-and-comer, but you’d be hard pressed to find a bad Heavy Half performance. His pacing needs a bit of work, but his energy is through the roof, and the surprising complexity of his aggressive style has been turning more and more heads. He makes a strong case for victory here if you’re into back-to-back punches, and he’ll surely pick up some more big names at this rate.

With its only downside being a brief slip in Round 3, this is another strong, fact-driven performance from Raw, a lot like his Tink Tha Demon battle. His simpler but frequently harder hitting approach is a solid foil for Heavy’s intensity, and the real talk angles keep things interesting.

T-Rex vs. Caustic

Who: Caustic (Oakland, Calif.) vs. T-Rex (Harlem, N.Y.)
Where: KOTD's "Back To Basics 4" in Los Angeles, Calif.
When: April 16, 2016

Calling it a classic is probably a reach, but this is a much, much better battle than most expected. Caustic’s battles are generally polarizing, and let’s face it: very few fans expected T-Rex to take this clash at all seriously (or attend it, for that matter). Fortunately, Caustic ended up delivering one of his most widely appealing performances to date and Rex performed in vintage fashion. This is the definition of a preference battle, so check it out to see whether you prefer specific, sometimes jokey content or indirect, hugely entertaining aggression.

Big Hann vs. J Murda

Who: Big Hann (Philadelphia, Pa.) vs. J Murda (Brooklyn, N.Y.)
Where: Warm-up of URL's "Born Legacy 2" in Brooklyn, N.Y.
When: March 5, 2016

Big Hann has been finding his way onto more and more radars these days, and J Murda has quickly made up for his disappointing Cortez performance with a string of dope showings. While Big Hann's aggressive, shouty style has been one of his biggest strengths from the beginning, Murda seems to have learned how to lean into his punches while making them more complex and unpredictable.