It’s no secret that UK battle rap isn’t quite what it used to be. Long gone are the days of Don’t Flop classics pitting the UK’s finest against the finest American talent from “across the pond”. A time that gave us all so many memorable moments and epic clashes including Shotty Horroh vs. Arsonal, Tony D vs. Chilla Jones and Charlie Clips vs. Quill. Needless to say, we are a far-cry from that prodigious time in UK battle rap, but could we finally be witnessing a long-awaited change and resurgence for the scene?
Across the last 24 months, in spite of the Covid-19 pandemic, UK battle rap has seen a drastic change, a revitalisation if you will, with battle rap legends like Tony D and Shotty Horroh exiting retirement and returning to stages across London and Manchester to reintroduce audiences to an unmatched level of quality that has been sorely missed, while newcomers like spoken word artist MOAK and Georgie Roots have taken to the stage and quickly risen up the ranks after several very impressive displays.
In all fairness, it seems more than reasonable to say that the UK battle rap scene is in the best state it’s been in for a very long time, as newer battle rap leagues such as Premier Battles and No Loose Chat have proven over the last year, putting together exciting event after exciting event, reminding fans that it isn’t only the Americans that can wow audiences with mind-bending wordplay and awe-inspiring lyricism, not to mention an aptitude for crafting incredibly layered stories that blur the line between reality and fiction.
And while Smack’s Ultimate Rap League in the United States remains the standard for world battle rap with the absolute best battle rappers on the planet performing under the URL banner, there’s no denying that the resurgence of the UK’s battle rap scene is not only greatly welcomed, it is also incredibly restorative, allowing battle rap fans to once again rejoice over potential international dream matches that have, for so long, seemed impossible.
As we look towards the year 2022, fantasy booking battle match-ups we thought we could only dream of seeing, the UK battle rap scene is unquestionably thriving, generating levels of buzz and anticipation only seen during Don’t Flop’s glory days. So, who knows, maybe this is the year we get to see multi-time Champion of the Year, Geechi Gotti, clash with, arguably, the UK’s greatest battle rapper, Shotty Horroh, or see wordplay enthusiast and lyrical genius Tony D step into the battle rap arena against, quite possibly, the best puncher in the game, Rum Nitty.
Of course, this is indeed wishful thinking on my behalf, as politics have in the past derailed plans for international dream matches on British soil (Shotty Horroh and Tay Roc being a fine example of such unfortunate circumstances), but with UK battle rap exiting obscurity and beginning it’s highly-anticipated ascent towards greatness (again), there’s no telling what the future has in store for this incredible art form.
Written by: Liam Spencer