It’s been another busy year for battling. Almost every major league has had a few high profile events and smaller leagues seem to be booking bigger names with greater frequency. The scene moves very quickly and the narrative shifts drastically with every new event, both for MCs and for leagues. With the ongoing success of our now out-of-date Top 10 battlers list from 2013, we thought we’d offer some new picks.
As before, the criteria we used to make our choices include: quality, consistency, impact, achievement, frequency of battle, and difficulty of opponent. We tried to come up with a final order using a few different methodologies, but ultimately decided to go purely on gut feeling. As with all lists, there will be readers who think their own is superior to ours, so hit us up on Twitter and let’s debate.
5. CHILLA JONES
Say what you will about Chilla Jones, but he always puts in effort. Whether he’s performing in URL or iBattle, Chilla brings bars and tries to produce a watchable battle for his fan base. It’s no wonder 2014 has been a good year for Chilla thus far. The standout battle, of course, is his tilt with Daylyt at Vendetta 2.
In many ways, it felt like an unofficial title for Best Writer, with each MC trying to outwrite his opponent, rather than break down his character. The result was exceptional, and many are calling it the battle of the year — even ahead of Lux vs Hollow. At the very least, it might be KOTD’s best battle of 2014 thus far.
Chilla has also turned in great performances versus Blackheart Adonis and Real Deal, and according to him, beat an ailing Charlie Clips in an unreleased battle. We expect to see more great things from Chilla in the second half of 2014.
4. BIGG K
Prior to his clash last year with Illmaculate, Bigg K wasn’t taking battling all that seriously. Now he is, and he looks nearly unbeatable. So far this year, the Virginia native has battled twice, against The Saurus and Danny Myers. He won both battles easily. As always, Bigg K’s writing is stripped down to its essentials, never reaching for something that isn’t there. He’s capable of shutting down a venue — figuratively, of course — with a single haymaker. What’s truly scary is that Bigg K is now throwing rebuttals into his rounds. Big Kannon and B Magic face him later this year. Good luck guys.
3. HOLLOW DA DON
Despite only battling once this year (so far), Hollow is still deserving of a spot in the Top 5. His battle versus Loaded Lux was easily the most hyped of the written era — and it somehow exceeded expectations. Hollow was the slight underdog in that matchup given Lux’s god-like status after his evisceration of Calicoe. And yet Hollow was able to reduce Lux to a judgmental, hypocritical prick with his terribly clever angles. And he forced Lux to remove his leather jacket after a joke. And he bounced back from a subpar performance versus Tsu Surf. And he dragged out Calicoe’s dad for some modicum of redemption. And for those who think Lux beat Hollow, consider this: which of the two is battling an industry rapper this month? Exactly.
Somehow, Daylyt continues to be the most fascinating person in a culture full of characters. The difference is that now, Daylyt has evolved from a talented oddity with a legion of haters to a compelling performer who’s almost universally loved. It certainly helps when he’s consistently putting out classics.
We’ve already talked about his battle versus Chilla Jones, arguably the best KOTD release of the year thus far. He’s also been part of outstanding battles versus Charlie Clips, B Magic, 40 B.A.R.R.S, industry rapper Ab-Soul and others. And of course, he’ll soon face T-Rex in the Total Slaughter tourney championship, having already vanquished Arsonal and Dizaster. It’s remarkable that Daylyt, perhaps the strangest and least predictable MC in battle culture, is knocking on the door of mainstream stardom.
1. CHARLIE CLIPS
Clips is still on a hot streak that started last year. The Harlem-based MC consistently puts out good to great battles, and he wins all of them, either arguably or emphatically. His year started with a dominant performance against Conceited at Blackout 4, followed by a watchable clash with Hitman Holla, then a much-hyped rematch with Tay Roc, which resulted in URL’s first classic in ages. Most recently, he faced Daylyt in what felt like an unofficial No. 1 contenders’ match for the KOTD chain. (We felt Clips edged the battle, which is part of the reason why he’s No. 1 on this list.)
The only blemish on his record is a January tilt versus Chilla Jones, in which Clips apparently delivered only two rounds of material before bowing out due to illness. Given that the footage hasn’t been released, it’s tough for us to hold that battle against him. Regardless, Clips is a masterful performer, and he continues to be one of the finest MCs in the game.
Want more? Check out our Best of 2013 section for more lists.
Also have a look at our response to Dizaster punching Math Hoffa.