How Media is Reshaping Rap Battle Culture
The year 2022 is just beginning and the battle rap culture already looks set to experience a year to remember. So many new storylines are forming that there hasn’t been a slow news cycle in months. While new platforms are competing for brand visibility with a new wave of talent, some of battle rap’s elite have been flourishing in the mainstream, representing the culture from Wild ‘N Out stages to new films and sitcoms such as Super Turnt and Bel-Air.
The sport of battle rap never stopped evolving. To stay on street corners would have brought slow singing and flower bringing. Instead, it spread over the years like a virus and infected every area of entertainment. Still, it gets no better than rap battles in its purest form, which tens of thousands livestreamed on January 8, 2022, at URLTV’s Super Fight. Time seemed to stop as we watched a classic lyrical war between Tay Roc and Danny Myers. Standing in the ring, circled by fans and peers in a small room venue, Danny Myers ascended to what we call ‘God Tier’. But unlike others celebrated in the spotlight at the peak of their prime, Danny’s legendary performance was almost immediately eclipsed by a new news cycle. Fans have short memories. With new engines such as Twitter Spaces fueling new narratives, the culture’s next battle may be against becoming reality TV’ish on social media platforms.
One of the first big announcements following Roc and Danny’s battle was Midnight Madness, a new venture piloted by a group of today’s most influential rappers lining up judged battles in secret locations. Likened to an underground fight club, and with all the momentum of a snowball rolling down a steep slope, Midnight Madness originated when battle rap legends Aye Verb and Tsu Surf talked themselves into a wager over a battle between Yoshi G and Pristavia. Yoshi G represents Aye Verb’s Island Gang while Pristavia represents Tsu Surf’s Gun Titles.
With these early conversations taking place publicly on Twitter Spaces, it took but a few hours before other competitors requested involvement, leading to what has become known as Midnight Madness. Somehow, conflicts surrounding logistics, belts and what not arose, and Aye Verb pulled his team, creating a seemingly serious riff between Tsu Surf and Aye Verb that produced a month-long war of scathing exchanges online. Despite this beef, the first installment of Midnight Madness is set for January 28, 2022, in an unnamed city and location.
Battle rap also has an award season that is growing in popularity and significance each year. Award categories range from battler of the year to sex symbol of the year to Jay Blac’s coveted Champion of the Year. Most recognition is received in a positive light. However, one digital publication’s award nominations seem to stir controversy at the start of each new year―AllHipHop.com Presents Battle Rap Superlatives: The Best of 2021.
Most of the top media brands in the battle rap culture were nominated for the Top Battle Rap Media of the Year award. However, that didn’t stop persons such as Norbes (of Norbes It All Podcast) and Piperboy Williams from launching complaints at the list curator and attempting to impeach the credibility of the list. This author personally wants to see all of battle rap media succeed. Collectively, we are here to make the culture better, not make lists, so we need to focus on the job at hand.
With so much happening in the world of battle rap, it’s not hard to lose focus of Danny Myers and Tay Roc’s classic battle. Furthermore, with battle rap media showing more concern with getting recognition than giving it, this author has personally decided to write this piece to ensure history celebrates this bout. Danny Myers versus Tay Roc was one of those battles that if you caught it live you probably felt like you were in the room experiencing the moment in person. Imagine a warrior who, in front of everyone to see, climbs a mountain to slay the dragon and marry the princess. But somehow, everyone ignores the clashing and screaming and carnage. So, our hero decides to climb another mountain to face an even bigger and badder dragon. And he keeps climbing bigger mountains to face bigger monsters; until finally you have no choice but to watch.
This analogy is perhaps the best way to describe Danny Myer’s career leading up to URLTv’s Super Fight against Tay Roc. From his fearless stare down during the faceoff to the “almost fight” outside, Danny was in rare form. The battle started with Tay Roc being so good that we may take it for granted; he’s just that consistent in delivering amazing rounds to set the tone. Once Danny Myers rapped his first round, there was an obvious difference in missions. Roc came to win the battle. Danny game to win the war.
Danny Myers landed bomb after bomb after bomb; in between he did pushups while the crowd went wild; he asked SMACK for more paper; he warned rockstar battle rapper Tsu Surf, “Don’t look so startled…”
Danny’s first round even had a viral moment with a “Hammer Time” line so impactful that MC Hammer actually retweeted a clip of the video on Twitter. While the rest of the battle was just as amazing, and being heavily debated round for round, Danny’s first was a moment in and of itself and that put the culture on notice. During an interview with D.I. Da HennyMan on the URL recap show, Danny was asked if he felt like this was his official, “Welcome to God Tier”. And the always Humble Danny replied, “I’ve Always Been God Tier” 🎯 🎯 💯