The Secret to Battle Rap Longevity: What battle rappers must do
The upcoming Summer Madness 11 (SM 11) card presented by Ultimate Rap League (URL) has received a mixed reaction across social media. However, it’s not as if these vets haven’t earned their shot. Can you talk about Murda Mook, for example, without mentioning the SMACK DVD era, and vice versa?
Whether you like it or not, these battle rappers haven’t made it to SM 11 on fame or luck or politics alone. To make it to the Mount Rushmore of battle rap, or simply the big stage this late in your battle rap career, you have to stay consistent and relevant through several different eras of battle rap.
Reaching the highest level, or top tier as we call it, in the battle rap world is a very rare accomplishment considering the tens of thousands of battlers around the world. Maintaining that level of respect is an even more respectable feat. Here are 7 things battlers need to reach and maintain top tier status in battle rap.
Whether through merch, music or simply a cool nickname for your followers (e.g., “the trappers”), creating a strong brand is important in battle rap. It makes your supporters feel like they are a part of something. The battlers on Mount Rushmore give the people something to hold onto outside of the ring.
It is nearly impossible to reach the top of the game without a high level of consistency. And once you’ve reached the top, it is imperative that you continue to do with what got you there. Some battlers develop a signature style, energetic performance or magnetic aura. In any case, the moment you start to change too much or don’t meet the standard set by yourself, criticism is sure to follow.
Being enigmatic is very similar to branding, but more personal. The Mount Rushmore of battle rap are approachable but not easily accessible. In battle rap, like many other arenas of celebrity, people don’t like battlers who are too cool to talk to them. On the other hand, if just anyone can talk to you whenever they want, it lowers the value of their experience having a conversation with you.
In battle rap, you want to choose your opponent carefully. However, you don’t want to be the guy/gal who is “scared to come outside”, either. The best of the best pick opponents that will advance their career by way of status or skill. The moment you become solidified as a top tier, you want to shake the culture every time your name is announced.
Avoiding over saturation is a key to battle rap longevity. While picking the right opponents is extremely important, you also want to make sure you aren’t taking too many matches in a short period of time. No one, for example, likes to see their favorite top tier on a small league’s stage a week before Summer Madness. There’s a stark difference between coming outside and jeopardizing your reputation.
Murda Mook and Reed Dollaz are two perfect examples of keeping up with the times. Staying relevant may be the most important step to achieving battle rap longevity. In many ways, we see art imitates life from the perspective that battle rap is constantly evolving. Over the years, all attributes show advancement as the culture grows. The greats avoid being left behind by staying in tune with what’s happening now. They never stop being a fan and student of the culture they love.
No one battler is bigger than the culture, which is why the greats always show appreciation. They always acknowledge those who helped them become who they are, because they are usually the same faces they will see on their fall from grace [if they allow it to happen].
Summer Madness 11 is right around the corner. Many of our favorite top tiers are on the card. If they follow these steps, we’ll see many more classics in our future.