Battle rap is an important aspect of hip hop's subculture but it's never really broken through to the mainstream beyond Eminem's success. So it makes sense that Eminem is leading the charge to build a rap battle league called "Total Slaughter." Previously announced in January, Shady Films and WatchLOUD.com recently shared details of upcoming events. But the question remains, will a reality show leading to a rap battle with high production values expand battle rap's audience or simply feed the faithful?
The thing about battle rap is that it's basically a glorified diss contest. You mostly say mean things in rhyme and, if you're good, you say really clever mean things in rhyme. Sometimes a winner is clear from audience response, sometimes not. Sometimes there are judges, other times there are not.
Eminem's been the one mc that rose through battle rhyme settings and took his skills all the way to the major labels and "8 Mile." Yet, though Eminem went mainstream, battle rapping did not. The perfect and even lyrical rhymes of "8 Mile" were too good to be true and the reality of battle rapping is that it often brings out the worst sides of hip hop culture in the form of sexist, racist and mysogynistic lyrics.
But if anyone's going to mainstream the sport, it could well be Eminem.
"Two highly anticipated battles are set to headline the first official Total Slaughter event this summer. One showdown will be a long-awaited rematch—more than 10 years in the making—as two all-time greats, Loaded Lux and Murda Mook, settle some unfinished business from their one and only prior matchup, a historic battle back in 2003."
"The other will be a face-off between Shady Records' own platinum-selling artist Joe Budden of Slaughterhouse and Hollow Da Don, considered by many to be one of the most dangerous MCs around."
"Leading into the live event, WatchLOUD.com will release a four-part reality series called Road to Total Slaughter, which will feature eight of the hungriest battle MCs in the country living together and competing for the right to face-off on the undercard of Total Slaughter. Filmed earlier this year in Brooklyn, Road to Total Slaughter will be featured on WatchLOUD in June."
WatchLOUD also introduced the judges and contestants that will take the "Road to Total Slaughter."
But the question remains, is this just feeding the battle rap faithful or can it take battle rap to the mainstream?
I think a lot will depend on the production values of both the reality series and the main show. Everything else seems pretty status quo suggesting that this is not an attempt to reach the mainstream and that even asking that question is beside the point.
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Hypebot Senior Contributor Clyde Smith (@fluxresearch) posts music crowdfunding news @CrowdfundingM. To suggest topics about music tech, DIY music biz or music marketing for Hypebot, contact: clyde(at)fluxresearch(dot)com.