Our Hip Hop culture, I’m proud to say thus far, has never given birth to wars. However, since the beginning of its own birth, the standard of excellence was already established through competition. And our Hip Hop culture has provided a lot of battles in its history.
Some battles have become famous; some have become infamous; and then there are the ones which are legendary. Legendary battles such as The Rock Steady Crew vs. The Dynamic Rockers; The New York City Breakers vs. The Rock Steady Crew; Kool Moe Dee vs. Busy Bee; The Fantastic Romantic Five MCs vs. The Cold Crush Brothers; KRS One vs. MC Shan; LL Cool J vs. Kool Moe Dee… and Cap vs. all five boroughs of New York City’s Graff writers.
Ah come on!! To those that remember the last battle I mentioned, you must admit it was kinda funny, don’t you think?
On a serious note, to me a battle is the key nutrient for Hip Hop culture. It’s what keeps it fit. It is iron sharpening iron.
So what should be the basic active ingredients in a Hip-Hop battle? In my opinion, it should be originality, creativity, skill, execution, passion, enjoyment, and style. The most important one to acquire out of all of them is style. It is your signature; your true identity.
I will say it again; style in our Hip Hop culture is the conceptual equivalent to the term DNA. Style is what truly defines all who is involved in our culture. Style is what inspires all of us and draws respect. Even from a battle.
Style can inspire acts of flattery.
If one copy-cats a certain style and acknowledges where he or she got it from, it’s held up to be an honorable act. Although, without endorsing the style’s origin, then one would be violating Hip Hop’s most sacred law, “thou shall not bite;” the street term for steal.
The thing about battles in Hip Hop, which I believe nobody in the 21st century knows, is that at times for the most part they’re spontaneous. Anybody from anywhere at any time could step to you with a challenge. If this ever happens to you, always accept it as an honor and a compliment. You must recognize that whoever challenges you may see themselves a notch below you, or they just respect your skill and style; so they just simply want to take your spot.
Furthermore, the best things that can come out from battles are alliances.
Most of the time when challenges are completed, MCs for instance, would give each other a verbal pat on the back, then walk off comparing notes. Historically, many even befriended each other and became a crew. A couple of well known stories of this happening is when Big Daddy Kane battled Biz Markie [Juice Crew], also when Busta Rhymes battled Charlie Brown [Leaders of the New School]; and when Pete Nice battled MC Serch [3rd Bass.]
Battles can be a blessing in disguise.
Now if a Hip Hop battle is our culture’s key nutrient, then it is safe to say that Hip Hop battles also have their viruses that are contagious. My belief is that these viruses I speak of are pride, ego, anger, ignorance, envy, and presumption. These viruses can potentially kill the Hip Hop culture, if we don’t admit and understand its existence.
If you possess any one of these ills when participating in a battle, more than likely you will lose more than just the battle itself. The saddest example that has ever happened in Hip Hop history is the so called beef between Biggie Smalls and Tupac Shakur. You may wonder why I say the words so called beef, because personally I believe that the media played a huge role for their deaths.
There are a lot of people that are living our culture that take a challenge wwaaaayyy too seriously. I would like to personally say unto them, if you can never accept defeat in a battle (in other words, if you’re a sore loser by nature), then you need to step off from Hip Hop’s lifestyle. Your thin skin will make you a bleeder.
I wish to dedicate this article to all of the global Hip Hop tournaments such as (but not limited to) The DMC World DJ Championship, The World Series of Hip Hop, Battle of The Year, Beat Box Battle World Championship, and Write 4 Gold. Much props to the founders of these tournaments that has upheld the spirit of Hip Hop competition and the art of battling.
They have no idea how important these events are to the Hip Hop culture… or maybe they do!!
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2008 Cyon bboy championship final Rivers vs. JinJo crew
MC J-U-Ice VS Eminem [Scribble Jam '97]