So you've watched all the battle rap videos on Youtube. You've picked your favorites, and you feel like you could probably step up and start battling yourself. But how do you go about getting good? What do you need to do to become one of the battle rap stars of this generation? And how different is battle rap from normal rap?
The thing is, even if you're a good general rapper, that doesn't automatically mean you'll be good at battle rap. While there are some similarities, battle rap requires different skills and a different mindset. Simply turn up with your normal lyrics you've spat over beats, and chances are they won't get you very far.
With that in mind, today I'm kicking off the first in a series of step by step guides on how to battle rap and win. This guide is a general overview of the process, while in future weeks I'll be writing guides on each below point, talking more specifically about how to improve in each given area.
So be sure to bookmark this guide for future reference, and share it with anyone else looking to become a battle rap star.
Why Become A Battle Rapper? Pros And Cons
Before anything else, I want to look at why you may or may not want to become a battle rapper. While I could nit pick and look at various reasons why you should or shouldn't do it, there is one main argument for and one main argument against getting into this field:
Pro: It Can Get You Huge Exposure Fast
If you've been rapping for a while and are finding it difficult to get people to listen to your music, this might be the answer. By simply having a clash on one of the established battle rap channels (most of which are situated on Youtube) you're going to get in front of thousands of rap fans easily.
Many of these battle leagues have hundreds of thousands of subscribers on their Youtube channel, meaning that as soon as they publish a video, they get thousands of views in a day or two. Even if you're previously unknown in this scene, you will get people watching your video. And if you happen to battle a known name in the industry, your video views could spike up into the hundreds of thousands!
This is one of the main reasons you might consider beginning to battle rap; instant exposure to a very large and targeted audience. It's definitely a faster path than most mainstream rap musicians go through.
Con: It's Not For The Easily Offended Or Intimidated
So while the instant exposure is one of the main drawing points to begin battle rapping, there is something else you need to think about. If you're easily offended, easily intimidated or have a short temper, battle rap might not be for you.
Due to the nature of battling, your opponent is going to do anything they can to win over you. That includes trying to say things that will offend and humiliate you in front of the crowd.
They might do this by fabricating lies about you and your past, or they might do this by finding real things out about you and exposing the most embarrassing parts of your life to thousands of viewers.
Long story short, it's not going to be an easy ride. You need thick skin, and have to take everything that's said with a pinch of salt. This could be hard though if for example a relative you were close to has recently died, but your opponent brings that up and starts disrespecting them. Or if you're in a relationship with someone and your opponent starts talking about doing things with them or tarnishing their name in other ways.
Remember though, battle rap is entertainment. Everyone is expected to shake hands and congratulate each other at the end of the match. So if you don't think you can do this after they've just said things that made your blood boil, then maybe it's not for you.
So there you have it, one big reason why you might want to join a battle rap league, as well as one big reason why you might not want to. Now you should have a better idea about whether you want to pursue this or not, let's look at how to get good at battle rapping.
Overview: 6 Steps On How To Become A Better Battle Rapper And Win
Remember, the following is just a quick overview of each skill set you need to become a top battle rapper. In future weeks I'll be publishing new guides and greatly elaborating on each of these, but for now here's a quick overview on becoming a top battle rapper. These tips are good for beginner, intermediate and even experienced battle rappers alike.
Tip 1: Get Your Personality Right
The first thing you need to do before ever stepping into a battle rap arena, is decide on your personality. There are three main personally types people usually fall into:
- The funny battle rapper.
- The technical battle rapper.
- The gangster battle rapper.
Which one do you want to be seen as? Which one can you do best? Which one does your image suit the most?
I look into each one in more detail in this guide on battle rap personalities, so have a look for tips on which is right for you.
Tip 2: Writing Effective Battle Rap Lyrics
A battle rapper is nothing without good lyrics. If you're going to start battling, you need to make sure you have hard hitting punchlines, say things that get the crowd going, and say things that will have your opponent feeling uncomfortable.
But what makes a good battle rap lyric? Is it what you say or the way you say it? How personal should you get with the rapper you're battling? All is revealed in this guide on writing battle rap lyrics. Having good lyrics is essential to winning a battle rap easily, so be sure to get this part of things right.
Tip 3: Learn To Freestyle And Flip
If you want to stand out as something more than the average battle rapper, it could be a good idea to learn how to freestyle battle rap. This is where you can rap on the spot without using prewritten lyrics.
While initially difficult to master, being able to do this well can give you a definite upper hand. For example, it'll allow you to ‘flip' your opponent’s lyrics. So if in their round they say something you want to pick apart and reverse it back onto them, you can do that, even if you haven't written it before hand. If you can't freestyle and flip, you'll have no choice but to not respond to their comments and use your prewritten bars.
I've a lot of great tips on learning how to freestyle rap so check them out. Remember, if you want to be informed on when all these future guides are out, add your details in our opt in form and I'll be in contact. A must for serious battle rappers and rappers in general.
Tip 4: Getting Your Stage Presence Right
As well as having good on point lyrics that will hurt and humiliate the person you're facing, you'll want to get your stage presence right. The thing is, battle rap is entertainment. In entertainment, you need to know how to command your stage.
If you stand there spitting lyrics looking like a limp biscuit, people will find it hard to take a liking to you. Put on a good show however, and people will want to tune in for your future battles as well.
I've a great system for putting on a good show, so if you're signed up for updates, I'll let you know when these details are up.
Tip 5: Join A Rap Battle League
Once you have your voice, lyrics and stage presence up to scratch, the next step is to join a battle rap league. There are many of them out there which you can join, but I suggest starting with a local one. As your name gets bigger, other leagues all around the world could become willing to fly you out to compete with their big hitters.
There are numerous ways you could go about joining a battle rap league, and as with all the other points I've made in these last few sections, I'll be looking in-depth at each of these in future weeks. I'll be looking at what some of the world's best battle rap leagues are, as well as how to get in an appear on them.
Tip 6: Marketing Yourself As A Battler To Watch
While a lot of these leagues and Youtube channels get a lot of views and exposure for you by themselves, if you want to rise to the top in your respective league, you're going to need to take things that step further and also market yourself.
This is something that a lot of battle rappers seem to overlook, so if you do your own promotion and take full advantage of the platform you're appearing on and the fans you gain off the back of it, the results could be spectacular.
While there are already many guide on marketing yourself as a musician on this site, I'll be looking at how specifically to promote yourself as a battle rapper in a future guide.
How To Battle Rap For Beginners, Conclusion
So there you have it, how to battle rap for beginners, intermediates and beyond. If you want to become a good battle rapper, there's a lot to think about. The above is just the tip of the iceberg, so expect more details on each of these and more in the coming weeks.
So, do you have any additional tips on how to win a rap battle? How to take your opponent out? If so, please leave your views in the comments below. Please refrain from swearing though as comments like those will not be published. We may be covering how to battle rap, but let's keep it respectful.