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.
Honorable mention: CRUGER VS CONCEITED
This battle feels like the moment when the U.K. finally earned its stripes from American battle fans on some “Organik vs Dizaster at Battle of the Bay 5” shit. Cruger has always been one of the U.K.’s best and now a new audience is taking notice. When B-Magic and Hitman Holla are talking about your battle, you know you’re doing something right.
5. OGMIOS VS REAL DEAL
This last-minute addition to our list dropped December 28 and was the reason we held off before publishing. We knew that if both these MCs were at their best they would be able to put on one of the league’s finest battles of the year. They didn’t disappoint. As always, both MCs bring creative angles, and switch between comedy and coldness with ease.
4. UNANYMOUS VS ARKAIC
Unanymous catches a lot of flak from fans for being all bluster with no substance, but what most people forget is that the kid is only 21. The biggest accomplishment most people have by that age is graduating high school.
In this battle, he is an absolute force of nature, demonstrating an aggressive swagger far beyond his years. He stands toe-to-toe with DF veteran Arkaic, who loses despite having better bars, being more direct and performing expertly. That’s not a dig at Unan or the judges. That he still won when Ark was near-perfect just shows how much of a steamroller this performance was.
3. MARLO/SHUFFLE-T VS BIG J/LEFTY
They may have gotten more attention for their “Bad Bars Battle,” but Shuffle-T and Marlo are just as entertaining here in the compliment format. That both battles were recorded the same day just adds to their legend.
Here, Marlo and Shuffle-T set themselves as the current torchbearers of a style pioneered by fellow Brits Deffinition and Oshea: silliness. It’s not a word that’s often associated with battle rap, but being silly in a culture that takes itself so seriously is one of the bravest things you can do.
Big J and Lefty are good for a whole lot of chuckles too, but clearly realize what they’re up against when they insist on going first.
This is the kind of content that Don’t Flop does better than anyone else – funny, clever, likeable and accessible.
2. MOS PROB VS SOUL
Both of these Don’t Flop MCs dig deep into battle rap culture and the pop/literary canon, referencing: Andy Murray, Loaded Lux, manna from heaven, the Shroud of Turin, Tolstoy, Game of Thrones’ house sigils, Tay Roc and Mike Tyson (and that’s just for starters) – all while being funny, cutting and direct. Hell, Prob even tears Soul up for making obscure references. And his “Loch Ness Lee” line is an easy nominee for Rebuttal of the Year. Watch this battle. You might just learn something.
1. MARLO VS SHUFFLE-T
For the last three years, Don’t Flop has been putting on some of the most innovative concept battles at their April Fool’s Day events. Literal mirror matches, three-way battles and now: the Bad Bars Battle. As relatively unknown newcomers, Shuffle-T and Marlo battled each other and ended up bodying all of battle rap, launching their names to global recognition at the same time.
If you’re not already a hardcore fan of DF or battle rap in general, you won’t get all the references and tropes they’re satirizing, but trust us, it’s hilarious.