Battle rap is a decades-old tradition of the hip-hop scene involving two artists going head to head in a war of words. Two parties step into the proverbial ring to duke it out using the best bars they can muster, but only one can emerge victorious. Over the years, there have been enough epic rap battles to fill out an impressive fight card.
Read on for a rundown of some of the most infamous rap battles of all time: the who, when, and why.
1. 2Pac vs Biggie
It’s no surprise that one of the most notorious rap rivalries of all time features on this list. Biggie was well established in the art of rap battles, having cut his teeth on the streets of Brooklyn. 2Pac was and is still known today for being a thoughtful lyricist.
Although these two never engaged in a one-on-one battle, per se, they certainly exchanged barbs. Between the aggressive bars over the equally aggressive rap beat of 2Pac’s Hit ’emUp and Biggie’s taunting Who Shot Ya, we’ll have to call this one a tie.
2. Lady Luck vs Remy Ma
Lady Luck and Remy Ma were two prominent early 2000s female rappers who, at a certain point in time, found themselves on the outs with one another. When the animosity came to a head in 2004, an epic rap battle ensued, and the whole thing was caught on camera. Although there was a respectable effort on both sides, it’s accepted that Remy Ma was the real winner of this battle.
3. Kool Moe Dee vs Busy Bee
The iconic face-off between Kool Moe Dee and Busy Bee in the early 1980s is regarded as being the first version of what we know today as a rap battle. The battle happened spontaneously after Busy Bee called out Kool Moe Dee during a regular performance. Kool Moe Dee hopped on stage after he was finished and went on to eviscerate his unwitting opponent with some quick-witted quips.
4. Eminem at the Rap Olympics
As is well documented in the autobiographical film 8 Mile, Eminem came up through the world of battle rap. It was through this very medium that he was discovered and able to rise to the prominence he did in the early 2000s. The fact that the identity of Eminem’s opponent is hardly mentioned in retellings of this story shows well enough exactly who won this particular battle.
5. Dipset vs The LOX
The pandemic has caused a lot of pain and suffering around the world. But one good thing that came from it was the regularly scheduled Versuz battles broadcast on YouTube first conceived by Timbaland and Swizz beats. One of the most recent battles saw Dipset take on The Lox and the performance by The Lox frontmanJadakiss caused such a stir it even had people advocating for him to become mayor of New York.
Epic Rap Battles for the Ages
Of course, this is only a small selection of the most memorable and influential rap battles ever recorded. Thankfully, battle rap is an art form that is not showing any signs of dying out any time soon. If you’ve enjoyed this countdown, check out the rest of some of our best-of lists.