How To Rap Battle And Win - Full Guide
How To Battle Rap Guide
I should probably start this by saying that I have been in 16 King of the dot battles on YouTube. And amassed over 200,000 views from my battles. It’s not a lot but I just want you to know that i’ve gained some experience from doing them. Good and bad haha. ALOT of bad. But I learned some things. So that’s why I feel confident in writing this guide and that you will get a little bit out of it.
Here is a battle from almost 10 years ago when I was just a young, tiny, confused, suburbanite in the rap battle scene.
Rap is usually written in bars/lines. Two bars together in a rap battle can usually be broken down into Setup bar/Punchline. So the first bar is the setup for the punchline. Just like a comedian telling a joke.
The difference is you need to include rhyme scheme and rap flow in it as well to make it interesting.
The best punchlines in rap battles almost ALWAYS have some sort of wordplay included. And much of the time it includes double meanings words to create this wordplay.
Examples of double meaning words are:
Ball/Ball - Like ball as in round object or ball as in a ball for dancing.
Or words that sound the same but are spelled differently and have different meanings:
The key is to take these simple words and put them into different sayings or combinations with those words.
So if you take Plane/plain for example.
There are many resources online to give you lists of these types of words.
BUT that being said, we can take it to another level by breaking down larger words or phrases into smaller chunks to get new double meanings.
Gladiator/glad he ate her
blanket/ blank it
Coriander son/ cory anderson
anatomy/ a nad to me
OR phrases that could have two meanings:
Over the net - Tennis OR sending something over the web
Start looking for double meanings. The best way to find the relevant ones to your opponent are to brain dump like I will show you below. Write down random thoughts and impressions about your opponent and skim through for cool double meaning options.
What is funny?
You must violate people’s expectation of how the world works.
Has to not be too serious.
Violating people’s expectations can be done in a variety of ways. Turn small to big. Turn big to small.
People generally like puns/double meanings because they play on the misuse of the english language (violating expectations) and using that in tandem with other violations like light racism, sexual preference and other things that we generally should NOT talk about or support.
Can you find a way to say something that is clearly WRONG and socially unacceptable in a lighter and funnier way?
Brain dump everything in a random Google doc
Just start writing everything you think of. Doesn't have to be rhymes.
The goal of battle rap is to tear someone down verbally by being dope yourself.
The best way to sound dope.
I mean let's get real. We're trying to demoralize this human. Nothing about them is off the table. And I mean NOTHING.
Now you brain dump insults, things that are funny about them, things that stand out, behaviours, the weird quirks you notice right away. Write it all down because you're going to go back to it and find your angles and pull wordplay possibilities. And craft bars around those ideas and find creative ways to make the crowd react to those ideas.
First of all, a lot of people are judging off their first impression. Most of the crowd is too, they potentially don’t really know your opponent.
**For the sake of this article/guide on how to battle rap, we’re talking in context of knowing who your opponent is going to be and writing bars to memorize. The majority of battles are done this way now, though you can use some of these concepts for freestyle battles as well.
So let’s choose an opponent so we can go through from start to finish. Everyone is different obviously. And I definitely was not the best battle rapper, but I got some reactions. I did about 16 or so battles with 200k views on Youtube over the last 10 years.
Either way, just know i’ve spent hours and hours discussing battle rap. Writing hundreds of jokes, bars, flows, patterns. I’ve choked so many goddamn times, it would be impossible for me not to learn something from it. Let’s see if I can get across some cool concepts to you in this guide.
Brain Dump / Research
How To Rap Battle Guide Start To Finish
This is actually most of what writing battle raps is. Writing down a whole bunch of bullshit and then tweaking it. But let’s pick our opponent at random, so we have a starting point. This is one of the first people that showed up in a Google Search. And I picked a super generic looking guy for a reason. It’s not as easy to make fun of someone generic.
Insert random dudes picture:
Let’s say we were battling this guy. We don’t know a lot about him but let’s use some creativity to tear down his appearance.
Usually you’ll have Facebook or other battles on youtube to watch of your opponent so that is the research process. Flip through the photos and music and videos and just start writing your first impressions of funny things about them or weird quirks. But if you’re freestyling battling this dude, then you are going to have to come up with some quick jokes immediately in your head.
Super generic guy
hair parted in the middle - like hes in the 90’s still
Kind of seems pussyish?
Lives with Mom
Jerks off 3x a day alone in his bedroom
Chubby little cheeks lol
Looks like he could be in the age range of 17-35. How is that possible?
Kind of a mullet haircut
Install your cable and internet
Looks like he rides a moped
Now what I do is scan these concepts for potential wordplayability or some dope patterns or rhyme schemes.
I start looking for cool multi’s that relate to the impressions I wrote down. Just writing whatever garbage comes in my brain so I have something to work with and make better.
Brain dump everything now. Sometimes it will be good, but most of the time it will be the most god awful, not funny, stupid things. BUT that’s what we use to filter and then pick out the ideas to tweak and make better.
Awkward to handle / proctor and gamble / xbox handle
I look at “plays Wow” and i’ll try and think of some wordplay surrounding that. I’m trying to find ways to manipulate the word “wow” into the sentence into a double meaning that will make him seem like less of a person than me.
And trust me, almost every battler starts off writing stuff down just like this wonderful mess below.
It’s also kind of funny that the words MOM and WOW flipped are the same. Lives with MoM and plays WoW. Might be a cool angle. I’ll move on for now.
Mullet - He’ll wanna mull it over
Uglier than Mark Zuckerberg without the smarts card shuffler
Not talking gun racks but you give tech support
You look like you long board to work - the plane was long boarding
Your favorite sports like fortnite
You need ativan but if we add a van to a picture of you / met kids at a van
His greatest achievements in life are measured in gamer score
Nineties sitcom - saved by the bell
You look like hip hops jizz sock
Receding hairline like medusa cause its a five head
Your pornhubs like your moped. You do 40 clicks an hour. (clicks is short form for kilometers in Canada haha)
Multi’s and Set up Bars
If you need a more comprehensive guide on multi syllabic rhyming then go here. I already wrote up a huge guide on how to rhyme multi’s here.
Set up bars are essentially everything that leads up to the punchline. You are creating the landscape in which you can deliver your punchline so it actually makes sense. Most of the time when writing battle raps, bars come in the form of 2, 4 or 8. That will complete the idea and the scheme and the punchline will come at the end. Depending on your style you can vary between these ideas. Keep in mind you only get a certain amount of time to deliver your bars. So if you drag on a setup for 8 bars the crowd will likely get bored and you won’t get as much insults in at your opponent.
2 or 4 bar schemes are usually best. Let’s look at some of these ideas and punchlines from above and start to formulate set up bars around those concepts.
I would definitely use:
You look like hip hops jizz sock.
That’s just funny. And it happens to rhyme well.
But you need some sort of connector or bar for this. This to me. Seems like an opportunity to use this line as a setup bar and also get a punch in at the same time.
I would say “You like hip hop’s jizz sock” (Pause) and then continue with the next bar which will be a bigger punch.
First things first. We need to find rhymes for jizz sock. Lol. And a fast way to do this is to just jot down everything you can think of for jizz sock. Or go to rhymezone.com and type it in and filter for near rhymes.
Okay, that’s a good list to start off with. Then you go through and formulate a funny, mean, or super intelligent line to make him feel bad about himself. And to get the crowd roaring. The more it makes sense with as many rhymes as possible, the better.
You’re like hip hop’s jizz sock/
Put you on ice like Wim Hoff
Something like that. And maybe expand even more with this one if it has potential. Say it out loud, like you would. For some reason it doesn’t quite have that umph factor. So I need to take this one back to the chalkboard. But you can see how the bars start to develop.
Delivery And Performance
This is a super important piece of battle rap. Sometimes it is the decider for who is better right off the bat. If one guy is super confident and loud, and has great cadence. And the other guy is shy and quiet. The louder guy will almost always win.
The best way to get confident with your bars is to say them out loud hundreds of times over and over and over again.
This is also where you will be making some more tweaks to your bars to allow for breath control and space in between for cadence. Adding different pitches and different flows in here and there when you feel like it’s getting boring.
Make sure you adjust your pitch as well. If you just use the same pitch throughout your whole verse then it will be boring and hard to listen to. Like listening to a text-to-speech app is less easy to listen to an actual person reading it with voice inflections and various pauses and adjustments in tone.
The stat is pretty crazy. It’s like almost 80% of how humans communicate is non-verbal. Which means by our body language and how our thoughts and actions with our physical movement portray our character.
This is why some people are labeled as inauthentic or weird or creepy. Because their words don’t match their movements and what their facial expressions and body language say.
In battle rap, or any type of performance. This is crucial. This is how so many people are judging you right off the bat. So many times, i’ve gone into a battle where hundreds of people are looking at you and you just feel so fucking nervous and don’t want to fuck up.
That first impression you leave means that people are automatically wondering why the hell you’re so nervous. And when you come with bars that are like. I’m the best, and i’m so dope, it doesn’t resonate with the crowd because your body language isn’t congruent.