An Introduction to Rap Battles: Pretty Much Pop: A Culture Podcast #71

Pret­ty Much Pop hosts Mark Lin­sen­may­er, Eri­ca Spyres, and Bri­an Hirt are rejoined by our audio edi­tor and res­i­dent rap­per Tyler His­lop (rap name: “Sac­ri­fice”) to dis­cuss a form of enter­tain­ment close to his heart: Two peo­ple star­ing each oth­er in the face in front of a crowd and tak­ing lengthy turns insult­ing each oth­er in a loud voice using intri­cate rhymes, ref­er­ences, jokes and even some cul­tur­al com­men­tary and philo­soph­i­cal spit-balling.

So what are the rules? How does mod­ern bat­tle rap com­pare to free-styling, the beefs aired on rap albums, and clas­sic insult com­e­dy? What’s the appeal of this art form? Is it because of or despite the aggres­sion involved? Bat­tle rap is regard­ed as a free speech zone, where any­thing’s fair game, but does that real­ly make sense?

A few rel­e­vant films came up in the dis­cus­sion:

  • Bod­ied (2017), a film writ­ten by Alex Larsen (aka Kid Twist) and pro­duced by Eminem, fea­tur­ing sev­er­al cur­rent bat­tle rap­pers doing their thing along with dis­cus­sion by the char­ac­ters of the eth­i­cal issues involved
  • 8 Mile (2002), a semi-auto­bi­o­graph­i­cal film star­ring Eminem, which dis­plays the old­er, free-styling over a beat type of bat­tle rap­ping
  • Rox­anne Rox­anne (2017) a biopic about Rox­anne Shante depict­ing hip-hop rival­ries of the 1980s.

Here are some match­es Tyler rec­om­mend­ed that also get men­tioned:

More resources:

Hear Tyler talk about his many rap albums on Naked­ly Exam­ined Music #24.

Hear more of this pod­cast at This episode includes bonus dis­cus­sion you can access by sup­port­ing the pod­cast at This pod­cast is part of the Par­tial­ly Exam­ined Life pod­cast net­work.

Pret­ty Much Pop: A Cul­ture Pod­cast is the first pod­cast curat­ed by Open Cul­ture. Browse all Pret­ty Much Pop posts.

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