I oftentimes ponder where battle rap is headed and what the future holds for the culture. After much thought, the only truth that I have found is that it is a very difficult question to answer. The 2016 season was different from any before it and may turn out being a pivotal turning point in the business. The big leagues dominated 2016 as they did all previous years, but the lack of minor league projects we saw through the year was a major difference. We have seen the slow demise of smaller leagues since 2014. We don’t see quality minor leagues like: Schemestreet, Spitdatheat, Voicebox, NOBL or EDT just to name a few. In fact, some of those leagues don’t even exist anymore. There was a time where one could focus completely on up and coming talent; it was truly a viable niche. But those days are long gone.
2016 has pounded the final nail into the coffin of the minor league dreams world wide. What can a fledgling battle league hope to accomplish in the culture, but to be a feeding source for the major leagues? Constantly developing talent that is inevitably snatched up by those who can offer more lucrative opportunities, is an exhausting task. But this is the role of minor league no matter how they try to market themselves.
Sadly most leagues aren’t aware of this. We only have to think back to old Spitdatheat intros that showcased SMACK shouting out the developing league while heading into a venue of some sort. Spitdatheat made enough noise to get the attention of URL and they attempted to market that relationship. But as we can all see, it was really nothing at all and Spitdatheat is on life support, if alive at all.
So as of now, the state of battle rap is: URL. It’s all about the Ultimate Rap League. No other league has offered competition on any level and that includes KOTD. It was as if URL set out on a mission to let the Canadians know that battle rap and rap for that matter are American past times and only Americans can do it the best. We had many more quality battles from SMACK this year, so many so that it’s not worth mentioning specific ones in this article. Look it up yourself. Check out the 2016 battles for each league and you will quickly see there is no cause for debate on this issue.
As far as KOTD goes, there future is looking shaky. Consider their up and coming talent. Can anyone beside Gjonaj (who arguably isn’t up and coming) be considered a threat inside of their new talent pool? I think not. The GZ’s are pretty much a joke in contrast to the PG’s. No one takes these battles serious at all and the talent is sub par at best. You literally click at your own risk. So where will KOTD be in two years? Not so well off based on their talent pool at the moment. There is no development happening in regards to new blood. Fans get tired of the same old match ups. Without new, entertaining talent, even the best of leagues can die.
That’s my one cent on the State of Battle Rap. Take it or leave it, but thanks for reading.