Category Archives: battle rap

Styles P and Dave East Discuss Rap Beef, Battles and The Rules Of The Hip-Hop Lyrical Warfare

“The rules of fair play do not apply in love and war.”

A 14th century poet named John Lyly made this statement over 400 years ago.  Never in his wildest dreams would he have expected these sage words to eclipse generations and culture, to finds themselves in the bedrock of rap music. When it comes down to rhyming… battling… lyrical warfare… there is no such thing as fair play.

At least that is what many of the most elite battlers believe…     whether we talking commercial industry or underground battle rap movement. 

This sport (or verbal exchange of combat) not only deals with bars, but often times personal shots. Busy Bee and Kool Moe Dee, Roxanne Shanté and UTFO or LL Cool J (and anyone that even acted like they wanted to get it) are great starting points to see customized lyricism aimed at your opponent can do when it unfolds. And while we can trace over the 45 years of Hip-Hop and see the roots of this, this form of “get at ‘em” is still in full effect.

Just this year alone, Drake and Pusha-T went at it.

The two of them produced not just piercing personal tracks that stung and offended, but made sure everyone really know that the beef was real. Better still, the songs actually were bangers that people want to hear and party to.  Pusha-T’s album, Daytona, lead off with a song called “Infared” that blazed Drake for having a ghostwriter. Drake immediately responded with “Duppy Freestyle.” Sooner than anyone could memorize the hook and it could turn into a “Back To Back,” Pusha-T hit us with the shut down winning blow entitled, “The Story of Adidon.” What made “Adidon” so power-packed? The track exposed Drake as a father and kind of made him look like a sambo.

Drake addressed “The Story of Adidon” on Lebron James’ new series on HBO The Shop.  He said,

“People love to say, like rap purists and people who just love confrontation, they love to say, ‘Aye there’s no rules in this shit.’ But there are fucking rules in this shit,” he said. “And I’m gonna tell you something: It’s like, I knew something was gonna come up about my kid. They had to add the deadbeat thing to make it more appealing, which is fine. I understand that. Even that, I was like, OK. The mom and dad thing, whatever. You don’t even know my family. But I’mma tell you, wishing death on my friend that has MS… I study rap battles for a living. Now when you mention defenseless people who are sick in the hospital, that passed away, that really sent me to a place where I just believed then, and believe now, that there’s just a price that you have to pay for that. It’s over. You’re gonna get… someone’s gonna fucking punch you in the fucking face. The shit’s done, the event’s over. I wanted to do other things. I didn’t wanna further your reputation or your career by rapping back at you and having this exchange. And that was it for me.”

When asked by Lebron James about the battle and why he chose not to continue the war, Drake replied

“This is not even a place that I necessarily want to go. And to all the people who enjoy that, I tip my hat to you… Back against the wall. I either go all the way filthy or I fall back and I have this sort of chink in my armor for the rest of time to a rap purist. Which is fine, I can live with that. I would much rather live with that than the things that I was about to… the research I did, the things that I was gonna say, and the places that I was gonna go.”

That sounds good, Drizzy. As a rap god, you are on a level where you can choose to respond or not.  But can you say that there are rules about battling? Styles P says “Nah, B.”

Radio host Ebro read a statement that Styles wrote on Instagram, “Nothing is wrong with not engaging in actual warfare. It is actually the wisest thing to do. But never engage or expect rules. That’s with rap or the street.”

On Hot97’s Ebro hit show, Ebro In The Morning, SP broke down what he meant. “

You can’t expect rules in any type of warfare, not just rap… ain’t no rules. You have to go into it thinking that anything can happen. That’s why your best bet is to not engage.”

He further said, “We are beginning to forget a lot of rules in this culture because of stars.”

He is absolutely right. Hollywood’s influence (and perhaps even the ability to hide behind a social media platform) has put a battery in many a rapper’s back. Saying whatever to get the W in one of those rules.

Momma used to say, “If you don’t like the heat, stay out the damn kitchen!”

Styles P and Dave East were on the show to promote their new album, Beloved.  All the parties in the room agreed that there is no-holds-barred when it come to battling on wax –especially now when there are no censors on the prowl like back in the day— but Drake should have known better since he does watch battle rap.

Ebro reminded us that maybe Drake, since he does follow battle rap, should have reflected on what really goes down when battling goes too far.  He said, “There is beef and then there is battle rap. Some people ain’t good in that space. Drake watches The UFC things [editor’s note: Ebro means URL] and there have been people shout to Math Hoffa (my boy), but he been up there a couple of times and he thought they crossed him too close. He took off on people.”

Dave East interjected, “But that’s that world. In the industry, you say you will do that. But if you see people…”

Math Hoffa, was not on the show but still weighed in, said

“Battle rap has no boundaries as far as content written against your opponent but when it comes to respect, I try to stay within the realms of my morality. I’m not gonna talk about someone’s dead homies or children. Some battlers cross these boundaries with no remorse… Depending on who you are in battle rap anything can be brought up, and you have to be prepared for it. One of my latest battles someone brought out and old fling. I had to be prepared to battle her too. Battle rap is exciting because it unpredictable and spontaneous at times but all in all its entertainment and should remain non-violent.”

Styles continued to spit knowledge.

“Pusha-T dropped an album. And then he [Drake] dropped the diss, the next day and mentioned his wife. He could have not done a record and straight up punched Drake in the face when he seen him because that’s a violation… and then you asking him to follow a guideline. That’s out of the question and something else he is asking is for him [Pusha T] to not follow tradition.”

Is it really tradition?

Absolutely, but it depends on which arena you are in to determine perimeters. Female battle rappers tend to be the most vulgar. In the tradition of Roxanne Shanté, these ladies go for the jugular. Queen of The Ring battler, 40B.A.R.R.S. concedes that she wishes everyone respected the way she battles and throws darts. “My only rule is keep the personal sh*t in a professional setting. You can say what you like in a battle, but outside of the ring is a different story.”

But Rare Breed Entertainment favorite, Qleen Paper buckles down and says, “Ain’t no rules in no type of beef or war. War is War. You win, how you win.”  URL champion Tay Roc also agreed, “Battle rap is no place for the weak hearted and rules go out the door when it comes down to defeating your opponent.”

But there are rules. League owner Eric Beasley (URL) understands how these boundaries have to be set up early on during negotiations, with the threat of financial reprimand as the ultimate insurer that no one violates. Beasley says, “Generally, artists let us know what is off limits for them. We do whatever we can to make sure that both parties have an opportunity to put everything on the table. We set conference calls up with our staff and both competitors to express their concerns and boundaries, and we move forward from there. However, if something offensive is said that was not discussed, then we just hope that the artists are professional enough to not take it from the battle rap stage to a physical confrontation.”

Physical confrontation does happen. Think about Math Hoffa, who years prior had a reputation of wilding on opponents that slick talked. Earlier this year another vet, Goodz Da Animal popped off on his opponent for what he asserts was a wisecrack about his daughter.  There really is a thin line that one walks on when battling. And fights in the battle world can not only cost money to the artists, but to the league owners and limit future opportunities for the emerging industry. It seems despite what the artists say, on a certain level, rules have to be set up.

Perhaps Drake is right. New Jersey’s Shotgun Suge is adamant, “There should never be rules about rap beef or battles. If it were rules, I would break them anyway.”

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Pat Stay to Battle Tay Roc on URL’s Summer Madness 8 in London

Canada’s talented and imposing yet hilarious Pat Stay is set to battle URL’s top gunner, Tay Roc on SMACK/ URL’s Summer Madness 8. This card will be the league’s first ever abroad event held in London on Saturday, November 10th. Since the Don’t Flop (UK’s most dominant battle rap platform) hit a low a couple of years ago, leaving the British battle climate ripe to have other platforms emerge. One example is Canadian league King Of The Dot (KOTD), who has teamed up with Chalked Out to fill this gap. You know who is else looking to at least test the waters? SMACK/URL, the #1 English speaking league in the world.

Pat Stay ascension to the URL has been a long, patient road. Many believe it is overdue because he has put the work in. Stay has had classic battles on KOTD with many of the top battlers in the culture: Arsonal, Hollow Da Don, Dizaster, Head I.C.E, Math Hoffa, Charlie Clips, Daylyt, Bigg K, Serius Jones and a heated encounter with Calicoe. He has battled DNA on UDUBB, Aye Verb and Danny Myers on RBE, and both  John John Da Don and Tony D on the UK’s Don’t Flop. Battling artists that have been known to win on URL should give him insight on what to expect that Summer Madness stage (albeit a different dynamic as no one knows if the URL European fanbase differs across the pond).

If Pat Stay is able to have a strong performance versus Tay Roc next month, the demand for him to make his URL debut in America will be hard to ignore. And perhaps, we could expect to see him on a URL New York stage early next year. Pat Stay’s comedic ability is likely to play in his favor in England, but if Roc is able to get in his bag and rebuttal with unexpected jokes of his own it could hit twice as hard and turn the battle around possibly.

Anything can happen with these two.

While Tay Roc has proven over the years to be nearly unbeatable on URL in New York (having battled nearly every top name), some would say he has been less convincing on the road. His battle against Dizaster in LA was not his best performance. Also, despite being booed by an attentive and at times hostile Houston crowd when he battled Goodz, he still took away a 2-1 debatable win. Those domestic battles have done little to alter how anyone looks at Roc as a champion. But his battle against the Canadian born, Charron is one that people are pointing to as caution for The Gun Bar King. Tay Roc had a very difficult battle versus the KOTD/Wild ’N Out’s star on UDUBB.  Fans will look at Pat Stay and Charron as similar types of opponents. That would be pedestrian, as both emcees bring entirely different swag to the table. The only things that are similar is that they are funny, white and from Canada.

Another thing to note is that this will be his first ever international battle for Roc. And to go against the seasoned traveler Pat Stay will prove to be a difficult match-up, particularly in front of the much more neutral London crowd.

Salute to Tay Roc for taking a challenging and possibly awkward battle here. Roc has been developing his pen and pushing himself to be more than just the Gun Bar King. This battle represents a real opportunity for Roc to showcase the creative writing ability and personality.  Real Talk: despite his age, Roc is a bonafide vet, seasoned over the last 14+ years. Fans and critics need to remember that, as Roc’s superpower tends to make people cast him as the underdog. If Tay Roc is able to overcome what he has called himself his “biggest challenge yet” in a multi-faceted and adaptable Pat Stay in London, the case for Roc to be etched on Battle Rap’s Mt. Rushmore increases.

The announcement comes on the back of the Battle of Da Don’s headliner for Summer Madness 8, with Hollow Da Don set to face his name-sake nemesis in John John Da Don in what is sure to be a heated encounter and is long awaited. With only two battles announced to date for SM8, the card is already looking fire and has sent battle rap fans into a frenzy. It will be interesting to see how all the battle emcees adapt to an away URL crowd in London – now a long, long way away from New York’s home.

London fans, tickets available now from here to support the culture and allow battle rap to continue to develop. The Pay Per View is available as usual from

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Drake Comments On NJ Twork’s Most Disrespectful Rap Battle

Drake seems to pay close attention to things outside of mainstream music charts, competition and currency. Back in 2015, Murda Mook taunted hip-hop’s biggest superstar to step into the world of battle rap. Drake made a cameo on SMACK URL’s “Night of Main Events 5 in 2015 to address the possible Murda Mook battle. When asked about the battle, Drake threw some shade on the New York battle rep veteran.  “You gotta beat Surf first before you get to me,” said the “In My Feelings” artist.

Aside from the possibility of his battle with Murda Mook that never happened, the 6 God keeps tabs on what’s going on in the underground world of battle rap.  In the world of battle rap, lines are crossed and girlfriends mothers and other close relatives may get mentioned. And it may not be in the most respectful manner. In a recent battle between Nu Jerzey Twork and Eazy Da Block Captain, things got heated once Twork decided to get personal and mention Eazy’s girlfriend. She happened to be standing right next to him. Twork starts by sayings, “Me and shorty you cuffing are great friends… he’s a f*****g replacement…. you remember them long night of me f******g your face in.” Peep the vulgar statement at 4:30.

Well, this line caught the attention of Drizzy at 5:41.

“Hahahahahahah this guy really sent it. Nah I would have been heated if my ting never told me that. Oh my God.” One can assume that Drake usually has his eyes on the battle rap ring, although it is pretty sure that he will never enter the ring itself. He can’t risk the corporate ties. That wouldn’t be a good ting.

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