[UPDATE: We have a new list that reflects what’s been going on throughout the first six months of 2014. Check it here.]
Here it is, our last list of 2013.
It’s an attempt to boil down every aspect of battle rap culture, by looking at every battler in every league, to find the definitive best battlers of 2013. It is an ambitious task, and it wasn’t an easy one. Our final picks come after much debate among the writers at T.O. Battle Blog, as well as a few expert sounding boards.
The criteria we used to make our choices include: quality, consistency, impact, achievement, frequency of battle, and difficulty of opponent.
We broke it down into a ranked Top 5, a “Next 5″ for numbers 6 though 10 (in no particular order), and a few honorable mentions. The last group could’ve included a lot more people (namely J-Pro and Lotta Zay) but we had to draw the line somewhere.
But enough explanations. You’re here to read about 2013′s top battlers.
King of the Dot spent much of 2013 trying to find a balance.
In Toronto, Blackout 3 had the biggest audience a KOTD event had ever seen, but the massive crowd meant that it was difficult to see and hear the battles in the venue. For Vengeance 2, the venue was too big for the smaller crowd and for World Domination 4 the venue was fine but the audio in the footage was hit-or-miss and the crowd was often unruly.
The California division rebuilt the West Coast battle scene to its former glory, providing a platform for both returning legends and a slew of new talent. Each event (Resurgence, Alcatraz and Takeover) showed progression, eventually culminating in the year’s best: Battle of the Bay 6.
Calgary’s Quarantine and Vancouver’s GZGP semi-finals events featured those cities’ best matchups to date and hinted at even bigger things to come.
But as for the battles, KOTD put out more classics than any other league this year. The quality of content from WD4 and BOTB6 was unrivaled and most of the big-name matchups lived up to or exceeded their expectations.
Honestly, picking the 10 best battles from KOTD’s releases this year wasn’t easy, so if your Top 10 list varies from ours, we won’t necessarily say you’re wrong.
KOTD’s Ground Zero league was a lot of fun in 2013.
The Ground Zero Grand Prix (a 32-man tournament with battles in all four of KOTD’s divisions) meant there were events going down almost monthly for a while. And with a $1,500 prize on the line, the MCs were hungry since winning and losing actually meant something.
No clear superstars emerged from the league in 2013, but a lot of guys surprised us by surpassing expectations and a few will fit in on main cards in 2014.
The battles in our Top 5 are all great for different reasons, so we present them in no particular order.
Don’t Flop has had an incredible year. They continued to develop a strong stable of domestic rappers able to compete with international opponents, and built a massive fanbase. Twice they hit mainstream media coverage, first with the Probposal (currently at 1.6 million views and counting) and again with Micky Worthless bodybagging pop idol James Arthur’s career.
They’ve hosted stacks of international battles, featuring some of the biggest names in battle rap, including Math Hoffa, Conceited, Real Deal, The Saurus, Daylyt and about a dozen more. But as you’ll see from our list, most of the best battles came from U.K. on U.K. matchups.
High-visibility disagreements between Eurgh and a variety of North American MCs clouded the league’s shine and left fans wondering if they’d ever see some of their favourites in Don’t Flop again. Still, it could be the impetus to draw fresh international faces in 2014.
It’s been a year of ups and downs for the URL. They took battling to a mainstream audience with their Ultimate Freestyle Friday competition on BET and had a solid crop of talent emerge from their Proving Grounds battles. Their main-stage battles, however, were mostly atrocious. By our count, neither SM3 nor NOME3 produced a single classic and most battles were rendered unwatchable by an unruly crowd, excessive sound effects or weak bars.
The PGs were where it was at, with modest events and crisp, clean footage and some new MCs who showed a lot of potential. Hopefully that’s an indication that URL will be back on its A-game for 2014.
There were a few high-profile, one-sided battles in 2013 – Pass/DNA, O-Red/T-Rex and Shuffle T/Anton Murphy all struck us as clear 3-0s (at least). But decisive wins aren’t enough to make this year’s Biggest Bodybags list. We’re not focusing on how well the winner won, but how badly the loser lost. This list is reserved for performances so dismal that the opposing battler could’ve just stood there laughing and still won. Continue reading →