The Top 10 Rap Battles From January

Our picks for top battles of January featuring battles from URL, KOTD, Don't Flop, BeastMODE and Colosseum Battle League.

In terms of today's battle rap climate, January was about as light as a month can get in terms for notable releases. That said, there's never any shortage of battles these days, and this month's list features hits from both major and minor leagues with a particular focus on the small-room environment.

Cortez vs. B Dot

Who: Cortez (Brooklyn, N.Y.) vs. B Dot (San Fernando Valley, Calif.)
Where: KOTD's "Battles At The Bunker" in Los Angeles, Calif.
When: Dec. 10, 2016

If you like battle rap strictly for the double entendres and movie references, this battle is probably not for you. But Cortez and B Dot are both known for their layered writing, and if you can appreciate well-constructed personal attacks, this clash will not disappoint. Although it's stylistically perfect, the match-up is an odd one in that Cor has been consistent for years while arguably not being awarded enough credit, whereas B Dot has skyrocketed in popularity with only a handful of battles.

He's most known for his wordplay (to a meme-producing extent), but Cor can talk that real shit with the best of them as well. He does just that in this battle, questioning B Dot's basis for talking down to his opponents, and it's a hugely effective strategy. Depending upon your preference, it may even be enough for Cor to edge this 2-1. That said, B Dot heats up over the course of the battle, saving his best material for Round 3 where he picks Cor's "Spanish" identity apart, whereas Cor delivers arguably the round of the battle with his first before significantly cooling off. Round 2 is a tossup, though, and it's admittedly far from perfect on either side. Still, the other rounds make up for it, and this battle is worth watching for sheer competitiveness alone.

For even more on this battle, check out this recap.

Soul vs. Quill

What: Soul (Fife, Scotland) vs. Quill (London, England)
Where: Don't Flop's "8th Birthday Weekend" in Leeds, England
When: Nov 19, 2016

One-round battles don't normally make the monthly list, but it's pretty clear why this one does. Despite a flawless performance from Quill, who recently became something of a fan favorite in the U.K., Soul reminds everyone exactly why he's the reigning Don't Flop champ (this is a promo battle, not a title match, by the way). It's hard to say how it would have looked if Soul had gone first, but the overwhelming effect of his round after Quill's is something to see.

Soul seems to be telegraphing his moves for 2017 in this battle, calling out Shox The Rebel and Tony D. He recently faced Real Deal at a DF event in Scotland too, which is pretty much guaranteed a spot on one of our future BOTM lists.

Rum Nitty vs. Tay Roc

Who: Rum Nitty (Phoenix, Ariz.) vs. Tay Roc (Baltimore, Md.)
Where: URL's "Night of Main Events 6" in New York, N.Y.
When: Nov 20, 2016

It's far from the classic it should be, but this clash makes the list off the strength of its "grudge match" atmosphere and debatability. In the building, it was a clear 2-1 for Roc after Nitty edged the first round, which disappointed some people considering Nitty's quick and exciting ascent on URL following his "gun line king" claims to Roc's throne.

Now though, plenty of fans are giving Nitty the battle due to what they see as stronger writing. Although Nitty undoubtedly made some mistakes in Round 3 by departing from his normal strategy, the battle is still fairly debatable and definitely worth a watch. Unfortunately, some brief but disruptive scuffles spoil some of the energy by making things unnecessarily tense, but hey —  maybe that's what you watch battles for.

For more on this battle,  revisit our recap of URL's "NOME 6."

Dunsh vs. Minnix

Who: Dunsh (Queens, New York) vs. Minnix (Roanoke, Va.)
Where: Beastmode NY's "Sneak Into This Event 3" in Staten Island, N.Y.
When: January 7, 2017

Featuring two of Beastmode NY's top names in a style clash, this is a low-key classic with an unforgettable second round from Dunsh. Beastmode NY is now defunct — although the Toronto division is still up and running — as the division's former head Lexx Luthor has moved on to revive iBattle, where both Dunsh and Minnix will undoubtedly pop up again.

Dunsh mentioned before the battle that he was going out on a limb with his second round, but even knowing that, the absurdity of Round 2 will probably still surprise you. The round is 100% centered on the moles on Minnix's shaved head (which aren't even that prominent, making the whole tangent even more hilarious) and the concept just keeps going further and further long after you're sure there's no way it can possibly continue. You might hate it, but it's worth the gamble, and Dunsh has a lot more going on in the other rounds. And don't sleep on Minnix, who tends to fly under the radar even though his punchline game is ridiculous.

Carter Deems vs. The Saurus

Who: The Saurus (Las Vegas, Nev.) vs. Carter Deems (Atlanta, Ga.)
Where: King Of The Dot's "Team Ganik vs. Team Gully" in Toronto, Canada.
When: Nov 12, 2016

The Carter Deems phenomenon has reached a strange point — one where he's beginning to clearly beat veterans of the scene even without drastically distorting the nature of the battle with his bizarre approach (like he famously did versus Illmaculate, who actually adapted far better than most of Carter's other opponents). Here, although The Saurus puts on a solid showing as usual, there's really no taking the W from Carter, whose only missteps are a couple of slight stumbles that frankly fit right in with his unconventional delivery.

It's a jarring moment when you realize Carter Deems is actually a cruel son of a bitch, and you'll likely experience that here if you haven't yet. He's still very much in his usual, oddly self-deprecating bag, but there are clear flashes of flat-out hate for Saurus' style, and they hit. Although Saurus clearly "gets it" more than most battle rappers do, like so many of Carter's opponents, he seems slightly unsure of just what to do with him. His material is hilariously aggressive, but not with the same wit as Carter's jabs, and the foil just doesn't quite work.

If Carter can keep confusing the shit out of his opponents like this, with the continued backing of KOTD, it will be fascinating to see where his seemingly idiosyncratic career takes him.

Bangz vs. WhoSane

Who: Whosane (Bronx, N.Y.) vs. Bangz (New Haven, Conn.)
Where: Colosseum Battle League's "The New Era" in New York, N.Y.
When: Nov 20, 2016

You might only know him for his train-wreck of a performance versus DNA, but Bangz at the top of his game is truly something to behold. The extent to which he thrives in a small room is borderline disturbing, and that trait is in full effect here, which will frequently have you confused as to whether his lines are amazingly written or simply delivered perfectly. WhoSane is generally consistent, but this performance features less energy from him than usual and is far from his best showing. Still, he doesn't totally drop the ball, and this battle is quite frankly worth the price of admission for Bangz alone.

Chilla Jones vs. Charron

What: Chilla Jones (Boston, Mass.) vs. Charron (Ottawa, Canada)
Where: Don't Flop's "8th Birthday Weekend" in Leeds, England
When: Nov 19, 2016

The uncharacteristically slow-to-react and disruptive crowd could have been better, but this is still a solid style clash with clean performances from both Chilla and Charron, who have actually been tossing around the idea of battling for a couple years now. The result is largely what you'd expect: sharper writing from Chilla but bigger moments from Charron, and it certainly has its moments overall.

If you give him the benefit of the doubt with debatables, Charron's list of "Smack rappers he's killed" is getting pretty damn long. You might argue he's only boxed himself in with the "Smack killer" persona, but then again, the big names keep coming.

Similarly, despite the accusations early on that Chilla was a one trick pony who could never adapt to a big stage, he has proven time and time again to be versatile and able to put his brand of lyricism to work against just about anyone. His material admittedly lags a bit in this battle, particularly in Round 1, but his determination to adapt to both the league and the opponent is nevertheless obvious. Charron clearly took the room, but check this out to see which style you prefer.

Arsonal vs. Brizz Rawsteen

Who: Arsonal (Newark, N.J.) vs. Brizz Rawsteen (Raleigh, N.C.)
Where: URL's "Night of Main Events 6" in New York, N.Y.
When: Nov 20, 2016

This is far from Arsonal's best showing — in fact, it's close to his worst — but of course that doesn't stop it from reaching nearly 900,000 views in less than a month. To be clear though, this battle is all about Brizz, who basically wipes the floor with Ars after a debatable first round, dispelling once and for all the myth that he doesn't belong on the big stage.

As we noted in our NOME 6 recap that discusses this battle in more detail, Brizz has faced almost unprecedented doubts from fans considering his stacked resume. Now, the tide finally seems to be turning following arguable 3-0's over both Pass and Ars, two vets — if not legends — of the scene. Brizz' style has stood out from day one, and now that he seems to have all the tools to win a battle against tough competition, it seems reasonable to assume he'll only continue to solidify himself as a URL gunner.

Illipsis vs. E. Farrell

Who: Illipsis (Vancouver, Canada) vs. E. Farrell (Manchester, Conn.)
Where: King Of The Dot's "Surprise Party 2" in Vancouver, Canada
When: Nov 26, 2016

Here it is: the battle for the best delivery in battle rap. In all seriousness, E. Farrell continues to craft some of the culture's hottest punchlines despite his unusual cadence ("I'm Pat Stay; only not taken serious 'cause of my voice,") and Illipsis is very much in the same vein, although he admittedly still needs more work in both areas. It's no surprise, then, that this battle is packed to the brim with soft-spoken quotables.

The end of 2015 into the beginning of 2016 was huge for Farrell, but things have been a bit quieter for him since then following some health problems that hit him just as he was reaching his prime. He's back in the game now though, though his headline battle versus B-Magic on No Coast was postponed.

As for Illipsis, his first order of business should be containing his joy after a punch lands, but his potential is unmistakable.

Glueazy vs. Bedaffi Green

Who: Bedaffi Green (Long Island, N.Y.) vs. Glueazy (Winston-Salem, N.C.)
Where: URL's "Born Legacy 3" in Brooklyn, N.Y.
When: Aug. 28, 2016

Glueazy already went on to battle new crowd favorite Nu Jerzy Twork at URL's "Born Legacy 4" off the strength of this showing, which probably says something about the rate that URL uploads battles, but it more importantly speaks to Glu's obvious strengths. He's a natural born puncher, and that tactic proves just a bit too much for Bedaffi Green here, whose most memorable material ironically mocks Glu's one-note style.

It's hard to say what to do with someone like Bedaffi Green at this point. He's clearly talented, but there are so many young gunners hungry for any shot on URL at the moment that the league can be just about as picky as it wants. Still, one can only hope Bedaffi presses on and continues to get bigger looks. Twork also just edged Glu at BL4 due to a surprising slip from Glu, but it's safe to say Glu has made enough of an impression to be back on URL soon enough. This is a prime showing from him and a great place to get familiar if you're not already.

What were your picks for the month? Let us know in the comments below.