Tips For Rap Battles
So you want to step into the arena?! You want to throw down your sick rhymes and roast others? There are some things you should know and work on. First off, when you start out you are going to lose some! Learn from them. Understand why you lost. It may be a freestyle battle but don’t think for a second that any of these players came unprepared. If you know who you are going against do some planning! Have some material ready. Here are some tips from RapTV:
There are thousands of rap battles to watch online. Listen to them and learn. Watch Artists perform. Do they have different rhythm structures you like? Do you like their flow? Take notes and take ideas? Be careful not to plagiarize! Go to some rap battles in person. See what you like and what relates you to you? Are you a funny man? A technical rapper? A tough guy? Which persona fits you best? Don’t be afraid to mix and match. Show your versatility! But its a good idea to know what works best for you.
Write, write write! Carry a pocket notebook with you. Write down your lyrics as they come to your mind. They don’t always need to come together right away. Keep them in your piggy bank and bring them back out when you are ready. Get a rhyme dictionary. Maybe try brainstorming in categories such as:
- King of the castle/ Lord of the Rink
- Historical including famous leaders, war heroes, outlaws and criminals
- Literature i.e. The art of War, Shakespeare,
- War references
- Hero analogies including fiction and movies
- Greek Mythology i.e. Zeus and his Thunder. Achilles heel and Atlas hold the heavens.
- Mainstream pop culture i.e. Movies, Cardi B and her heel, George Floyd, Politics
- Your life, your hardships
Practice at home
Get yourself in the right headspace. Play some music to get psyched up. Get dressed to go out. Take out a picture of someone and focus on it. Put on some background beats and go! Practice freestyling. Try out different things and see what flows.
Have a plan
Just Like a boxer, you look for your opponent’s strengths and flaws. This is a smack-talking championship. Come with some game! Prepare your digs!. Do you have some obvious flaws? Sometimes being self-deprecating first can take away the opponent’s opportunity to strike first. What is your opponent’s style? Can you riff on that? Remember it’s a fight but keep it above the belt. Forget the sexist, racial, homophobic cheap slurs. Though it should be obvious, here’s a reminder why not:
- It’s just plain wrong
- It’s low grade material
- This is the social media age and these things stay around forever
- You can be better than that
Great Humor can be a game-changer! Use it to break your opponent’s confidence and get in their head. If you can make your challenger laugh and the audience sees it you are already winning! Quick ripping lines and mic dropping slams are the way to turn the tide and keep the advantage. Listen to your opponent so you can respond but also work in your head on what you want to say next and refute it. Take the time in between turns to know your next move and take the win!
Put on a show
Don’t just stand there! Put energy into the performance! Move around. Does your opponent walk funny? Imitate them while dropping some sick jokes. Look at the crowd and involve them but focus on the person you are going head to head with. Are there anythings in the room you can use as props or something you can bring in your pocket to pull out at the right moment to get the laugh or the shock and awe? Bring your A-game!
The Crowd Decides
As Proximo said ‘Win the crowd Maximus!’ Ultimately the crowd decides who wins. Learn to read the crowd. Do they want to laugh? Do they want to see hard disses?