A new year, a new decade and for The Source that means a few new lists.
As we prepare for another year of outstanding coverage of battle rap culture, we pause to salute those who have made an exceptional mark throughout last year. But before we get into all of that… before the culture gets mad because their favorite emcee was left off the list… before people accuse us of being biased and not knowing what we are talking about… before battle rap outlets throw shots because we are treading in their territory… we have painstakingly created five superlative lists tipping our hats to those emcees that have invested their blood, sweat, and tears into the culture, making at least our staff and readers actually want to tune in.
This time it’s not just the “Top 20 Battle Rappers of the Year” and the “Top Battle Rap Events,” but it is also the “Top 10 Impact Makers in Battle Rap,” the “Top 5 Battle Rap Media Outlets” and those that we consider “Catalyst Superstars: Top 20 Battle Rappers of The Decade.”
TOP 20 BATTLE RAPPERS OF THE YEAR
(1) Geechi Gotti
(2) Ill Will
(3) Rum Nitty
(7) Nu Jerzey Twork
(8) Th3 Saga
(9) Danny Myers
(11) Aye Verb
(12) John John
(13) Chef Trez
(15) Shotgun Suge
(18) Tay Roc
(19) Math Hoffa
(20) Ms. Fit
Honorable Mentions: Bill Collector, Ace Amin, Dre Dennis, Don Morino, O-Red, Shooney da Rapper (again), Swamp and Mike P.
TOP BATTLE RAP EVENTS
(1) NOME 9
(2) Summer Impact
(3) Volume 5
(5) Pearly Gates 3
Honorable Mentions: Born Legacy 8, Ladies and Gents, Town Business 2, Banned Legacy 1 and Respect the Shooter.
TOP 10 IMPACT MAKERS IN BATTLE RAP
(1) Cassidy: The way he impacted the cultured with his promotion and sheer presence.
(2) John John Da Don: “Go Get It!” Showed that just because you tell us you are ready, doesn’t mean you are (no matter how much they push you to the front.)
(3) Ms. Fit: Arguably body of the year; made everyone pay attention to female battle rap again… Also history-making battle (fastest to hit 1M on QOTR YouTube channel). Debo send her some flowers and an additional check.
(4) Goodz: Broke Cassidy’s undefeated record. STATEMENT MADE TO INDUSTRY RAPPERS: Just because you think you can come into the battle rap arena you can’t. This is a whole different ballgame.
(5) DNA: Won 25K on Live on BET, showing the industry the slickness of modern-day emcee battle culture.
(6) Tsu Surf: Being battle rap’s biggest superstar/ mogul. Books (House in Virginia made Amazon Urban AA Lit #1, Seven25 charting record with single “What Changed” on radio mid-level HOT 97 rotation, Blood Cuzzins over 5 Million Streams on YouTube, Spotify and Apple in 3 weeks and still most sought after battler in the industry.
(7) Chess: After Tsu Surf got locked up and Tay Roc was in need of a partner, with less than two weeks prep stepped in and redeemed himself fully by slaying two dragons. No one remembers that he used to throw-up during battles now… all we remember is them damn shell cases and how he put fear in the eyes of two bonafide Mt. Rushmore candidates.
(8) URL APP: Game Changer having all other leagues doing power meetings and going back to the drawing board. The move made them free and independent from YouTube and allowing them to monetize fully their brand through what appears to be a network producing original programming, high impact battles and giving real estate to smaller leagues. The trues GOATs of the industry.
(9) My Expert Opinion: Math Hoffa shows that a battle rapper can transition out of the performance space and find a comfortable seat as a host on the premiere battle rap talk show. Takes a page from NORE’s Drink Champs and Joe Budden’s self-titled podcast, he, HipHopIsReal’s Knowledge tha God and Ms. Fit produces a weekly show with celebrity guests to talk everything from battle rap to politics, relationships and pop culture.
(10) Summer Impact Reloaded: Biggest conversation in battle rap, making everyone concerned about the violent state of culture. Hindered the most anticipated return off Murda Mook and potentially stopped SMACK/URL from doing business in New York ever again.
TOP 5 BATTLE RAP MEDIA OUTLETS
(1) Champion (Jay Blac, Drie, Anwar, Reda, Mark Jamgochian and Debo)
(2) HipHopIsReal (Knowledge tha God, Noo Barzz, Tr4 French, Eelite and Shoota da God)
(3) 15MOFE (Unkle Ra and Nikki Knowledge)
(4) My Expert Opinion (Math Hoffa, Ms. Fit, Knowledge tha God, and Space Ghost)
(5) Vada Fly (Vada Fly and ShoTime SP, the Nobody that Knows Bodies)
Honorable Mentions: BattleRapTrap, Angry Fans (get better), PSAHipHOP, RapMatic, Let’s Talk Battle Rap, Versetracker and Battle Rap Stats.
CATALYST SUPERSTARS: TOP 20 BATTLE RAPPER OF THE DECADE
(3) Tay Roc
(5) Hitman Holla
(6) Tsu Surf
(7) Charlie Clips
(10) Jaz the Rapper
(11) Loaded Lux
(12) Murda Mook
(13) Hollow Da Don
(14) Aye Verb
(16) Head Ice
(17) Pat Stay
(18) Ms. Hustle
Honorable Mentions: Math Hoffa, Ill Mac, E Hart, Calicoe, QB Diamond, John John, Iron Solomon, 40 B.A.R.R.S.
These lists are incredibly subjective, but we did comb over votes from fans, battlers, league owners, media outlets and other execs. The lists are also intended to promote conversation and to put a fire under people’s asses. Can’t wait to see what the next year will bring, and we are grateful for a full year of flame worthy battles. It is important to note further, that many other leagues and individuals could have made the list this year but there are just not enough spaces 1- 5, 1 – 10 or 1 -20 to put everyone in. In fact, just consider folk like Math, Ill Will, and Saga who had poor showings on last year’s list, but are basking in the glow of victory this year. It’s more than The Source’s lists… it is all of your lists. You all have the same opportunities to add to the numbers as our staff.
Let’s see how everyone steps their game up in 2020.