The 50 Greatest Battle Rappers of All Time

In no ranking order, these skillful MCs are not who you want to test on the microphone.

To understand modern battle rap culture is to understand competition, independent entrepreneurship, and the art and sport of MCing. Out of the shadows of commercial hip hop spawned an entirely separate subculture where the power of the pen, performance, and presentation reign, exclusively. No beats are allowed when rocking the crowd in this cypher. Just blistering, braggadocious rhymes crafted specifically to dismantle the opponent.

The battle rap industry has exploded over the past 20 years. What was once most prominently seen through SMACK DVDs at the turn of the century has gone global through the interconnectedness of the internet, video platforms like YouTube, and now apps like Caffeine. Leagues like SMACK Ultimate Rap League, GrindTimeNow, Rare Breed Entertainment, Queen Of The Ring, King Of The Dot in Canada, FlipTop in the Philippines, and Don’t Flop in the United Kingdom, among others have each amassed billions of views globally and created certified stars that transcend the once niche subgenre. Battle rap events feel like prize fights and top-tier competitors regularly receive $10,000s to $100,000s as purses or prize money because the audience for this particular type of hip hop content is rabid and perpetually fiending for more.

A few caveats to this list:

One, this is a celebration of the 50 Greatest Battle Rappers in the modern battle rap industry, those who’ve left their imprint on this particular brand of acapella-style lyrical warfare in the industry. This list excludes those most known for freestyle battles over instrumentals or for their catalog of scathing diss tracks. Notorious battlers like Eminem, Rhymefest, Eyedea, and others are incredible, but fall outside of the scope of this conversation.

Also, the battle rap industry is expansive enough at this juncture to where this could’ve easily been a list of the top 100. Rappers like New Jersey Twork, Big T, B Magic, Couture, and Chess, for example, have accomplished amazing things in this space that they deserve to be mentioned even if they don’t crack this compilation.

And finally, this list prioritizes the number of classic battles, the strength of opponents, overall skill set, total views (because views are the closest thing to platinum plaques in battle rap), longevity, and impact in an attempt to capture a comprehensive look at the all-time top 50. Factors that can’t be quantified as easily—such as charisma, performance, and imagination—are factored in as well because facts and feel are both paramount when celebrating art.

That’s really the beauty of the battle rap industry. The art displayed on stage in every round—from the schemes and multi-syllable to the angles and punchlines—is accompanied by the artful innovation of an industry full of separate companies selling organized rap battles worldwide. Mavens like Eric Beasely, SMACK White, Organik, Lush One, Madd Illz, Drect, Sara Kana, Poison Pen, and others all levied hip hop’s most resolute quality—competition—and flipped it into a means to provide jobs, opportunity, and entertainment to fans and artists who love nothing more than the art of rap, and the art of rap exclusively. They’ve taken it on the road. They’ve taken it online. They’ve created an industry. They’ve changed lives. That should be celebrated, too.

Without further ado (and in no ranking order), here are the 50 Greatest Battle Rappers of All Time.

  • Loaded Lux

    From classic SMACK DVD battles against Murda Mook and Charlie Clips to creating his own battle league, Lionz Den, where he introduced future legends Arsonal, Tay Roc, K-Shine among others, to his legendary Summer Madness 2 battle against Calicoe, Loaded Lux put on and showed out. 

    His slick Harlem wordplay mixed with his angles and rhyme structure position him as arguably the greatest lyricist in battle rap history. But coupled with his penchant for creating massive moments that transcend the culture—like his staple phrase, “You gon’ get this work”—separates him from the rest.

  • Murda Mook

    Murda Mook is the icon’s icon, a staple in battle rap since the SMACK DVD era. He bodied Iron Solomon during Summer Madness 2, dismantled Loaded Lux with a fury of punches during Total Slaughter, and taught Tay Roc a lesson during their classic matchup. 

    Mook has notched several captivating performances in his storied career. He’s a punchline king that keeps audiences on the edge of their seats, in a fashion exemplified by his iconic catchphrase, “Eaasssy.”

  • Dizaster

    Dizaster has not only left his imprint on the culture through GrindTime, King Of The Dot, and URL battles, but he’s faced off against on-comers in Lebanon, Sweden, Germany, Australia, and Montenegro. In that sense, it’s fair to say he’s the international face of battle rap. 

    His classic battle against Canibus left the MC reaching for his notepad, sure, but Diz has never shied away from any matchup. His storied career includes battles with Arsonal, Daylyt, DNA, Pat Stay, Hollow Da Don, and Tay Roc, among others. Diz is big-time and takes on the biggest names.

  • Daylyt

    Daylyt is a lyrical alien that seemingly can take any angle and step away with a victory. His in-battle antics—like dropping a deuce during KOTD’s Duel in the Desert, or taking a nap on stage while battling Math Hoffa during RBN’s Barfest—ensured his matchups notched millions of views. 

    But it’s his incredible schemes, wordplay, diction, and message bars that place him amongst the greatest ever.

  • Geechi Gotti

    Don’t look now but Geechi Gotti is in the midst of one of the most dominant runs in battle rap history. In six short years, he’s journeyed from URL Proving Grounds in 2016, to Champion of the Year in 2018, 2019, and 2021. 

    The Compton, California titan is equally comfortable battling at home or in hostile environments and, after his upcoming battle with Murda Mook this (November), he will have squared off against Dizaster, Loaded Lux, and Hollow Da Don all in one year. 

    It’s fair to say we’re in the Geechi Gotti era of battle rap.

  • Charlie Clips

    Maybe it’s the fact that Charlie Clips is a master of the four-bar setup. Maybe it’s his powerful punchlines or the incredible four-year run he put together from 2013 to 2017, where he took on top-tier challengers like Ill Will, Rum Nitty, DNA, and Loaded Lux, among others. There are a number of reasons why Charlie Clips is great, but his ability to manipulate an audience is what’s most admirable. 

    His third round against Hallohan during their King Of The Dot battle is a great example. Somehow Charlie Clips won over the Canadian audience by convincing them they were racist if they sided with his opponent. That was easily one of battle rap’s most unexpected moments.

  • Rum Nitty

    Rum Nitty just may be the embodiment of the complete evolution of the punchline rapper. He’s elevated the technique through spectacular multilayered bars complete with no filler, and an innate ability to flip his opponent’s name masterfully throughout each of his rounds. His 2016 battle with Ave is an instant classic that still holds up six years later.

  • Pat Stay

    Pat Stay’s versatility and courageousness are two of the reasons he’s celebrated in battle rap. He’ll mix comedy, charisma, and scathing truth bombs seamlessly while remaining one of the coolest personas in the battle rap space. 

    His performance during his battle with Tay Roc exemplifies his ability to turn any audience on his side. The same can be said for his battle with Shotgun Suge. Regardless of the platform, Pat Stay was “the only white dude who ain’t scared to clap back.” His 2022 passing was a major loss to the battle rap culture. Rest in power.

  • DNA

    DNA has built his reputation on all the major battle rap platforms, notching wins on Grindtime, King Of The Dot, SMACK/URL, and Don’t Flop. The angles he takes within his rounds are pristine, but his effortless freestyles are the key to his arsenal. 

    He’ll shift between written and freestyles with ease, and his battle against King Los proved he can kick it off top against the best freestylers in the world.

  • K Shine

    K Shine is one of battle rap’s most dynamic MCs who somehow manages to maintain anthemic energy while delivering knock-out-worthy punchlines. 

    His classic battle versus Aye Verb showcases his greatness as many fans believe K-Shine bodied the battle rap legend. And most recently, his appearance at the 2022 BET Hip Hop Awards cemented him as a force to not ignore.

  • Aye Verb

    Aye Verb’s performance versus Hitman Holla will forever be one of battle rap’s most remembered. Verb pulled Hitman apart by breaking down how he came from a two-family home and shouldn’t be claiming the hood so heavy. 

    Then at the end of the round, with Hitman’s father (Big Gerald) in attendance, Aye Verb calls out “Hey Big Gerald!” Big Gerald replies “Yes sir!” Then Aye Verb replies, “That’s how you talk to your son!” Its grown-man bars like that make him one of battle rap’s most captivating performers.

  • Tay Roc

    Tay Roc suffered a crushing defeat at the hands of Charlie Clips back in 2011. It was a loss so bad that a lesser MCs would’ve quit battling all together. But not Tay Roc, though. 

    Roc took the lesson, harnessed the energy, and has become one of the leading forces in the space today by tapping into the URL sensibility, commanding presence to his delivery, while ensuring every round is laced with substantive punchlines.

  • Calicoe

    Calicoe’s been applying pressure to the greats since he was a young cat in the battle rap space. He took out K-Shine in their classic URL matchup. He and Hitman Holla combined for a classic in their RBE battle. 

    But perhaps Calicoe’s greatest achievement is that there is a faction of fans that think he beat Loaded Lux in their Summer Madness 2 head-to-head match-up. Either way, it took an all-time legendary performance to knock Calicoe off of his square. That’s something to brag about.

  • Tsu Surf

    In a sense, Tsu Surf is the Jerry West of battle rap. He’s the modern logo, everything you think of when you think of a battle rapper. 

    His bars are powerful and intricate and always connected with a raucous performance. Tsu Surf is only a few more classic battles away from being Top 10.

  • Hitman Holla

    It’s arguable that Hitman Holla is the best performer in battle rap. Extremely charismatic with an easily digestible style perfect for the mainstream, it makes sense he’s become a Wild N Out cast member. 

    But don’t take Hitman Holla for a flash-in-the-pan arse battle rapper. Holla notched multiple classic battles against some of the biggest opponents, including Cassidy, Calicoe, Bill Collector, Tsu Surf, and Aye Verb.

  • Arsonal

    Arsonal is undoubtedly a staple in battle rap and survived multiple eras. From his Lionz Den days to SMACK URL to running his own platform, the UW Battle League, Ars has taken his spectacular brand of supremely disrespectful bars all the way to multiple multi-million-viewed battles, including his 14 million viewed behemoth against Shotty Horroh.

  • A Ward

    It’s all fun and games until the Christian rap bars come out. That’s part of what makes A Ward unique. He’s a Christian rapper who’s never timid, always comes prepared, and has strung together a series of super strong performances. 

    He’s been remarkably consistent over the years, taking on Rum Nitty, Charlie Clips, and Aye Verb in tough matchups. And possibly most improbable, A Ward went toe-to-toe with Geechi Gotti.

  • Serius Jones

    Serius Jones has pulled a number of upsets over his two-decade career, including his unexpected victory over JC on URL. Jones has been in a number of wars and the key to his longevity has been his slick talk and witty freestyles that are uncomfortable enough to make someone want to swing at him on stage.

  • Jaz The Rapper

    It’s easy to be disarmed by Jaz The Rapper’s innocent look and snarky attitude. But her raw Brooklyn energy, spilling confidence, and masterful stage presence makes her a force to be reckoned with regardless of who she’s facing. 

    Add that to her top-shelf battle selection and how earnestly she engages with her audience, and there’s a reason why she’s the female face of the URL.

  • Conceited

    Conceited is part of the fabric of modern battle rap, notching classics against Tsu Surf, Charlie Clips, and Arsonal. With an entertaining, off-kilter wordplay, exploding charisma, and penetrating punches, Conceited is more than just a Wild N’ Out OG, he’s arguably the first punchline king of this era.

  • Danny Myers

    Danny Myers has a methodical approach and a creative angle that has been the linchpin to his career. He’s ferocious and seemingly willing to take any battle, whether URL or opponents in smaller leagues. 

    He’s relentlessly hungry and maintains high-quality rounds complete with detailed schemes and four-bar setups regardless of where he battles. Danny Myers defines dedication.

  • Math Hoffa

    Math Hoffa is an innovator in the battle rap industry. His battle against arguably T-Rex set off the SMACK URL era, while his battle against Iron Solomon arguably set off the YouTube era. 

    From a style standpoint, Math took the angle-based approach, styles popular from the Scribble Jam scene, and the prewritten evolution and brought them all together. There was a time when battles seemed to feature mainly MCs kicking general verses. Math crafted verses about his opponent for his opponent.

  • T-Rex

    T-Rex has caught flack for using mixtape bars in his rounds. That’s a critique that applies more and more as battle rap continues to evolve. Regardless, T-Rex embodies the SMACK DVD era of the culture: straightforward, swaggy Harlem bars that imbue an infectious hip hop vibe. 

    He’s engaging. He’s entertaining. And you can’t talk about battle rap without talking about T-Rex.

  • O’fficial

    O’fficial’s Queen Of The Ring battle versus Ms. Fit is an immediate classic. Both battlers came with the thunder but O’fficial’s free where she calls out Ms. Fit for stealing her celebrated slave ship bar is a great example of how O’fficial can come off the top and leave contenders in a knot. 

    She’s unapologetically herself, crafting creative punches and angles and consistently showing she can go toe-to-toe with anyone.

  • Iron Solomon

    Iron Solomon’s another name that represents longevity, innovation, and supreme skill. He notched legendary battles with Murda Mook and Math Hoffa. But his battle with Rum Nitty on URL exemplifies his keen strategy. 

    Apparently, both battlers were wearing the same kicks, then flipped it on Nitty by scheming on how Nitty’s were fake. His classic battle with Dizaster is also heavily discussed within the culture. Solomon’s been dangerous for decades.

  • 40 B.A.R.R.S.

    40 B.A.R.R.S. is known for her cutthroat personal disses and sweeping schemes. She’s never afraid to go for the jugular and use all of her ammunition in a skillful, lyrical way. 

    She’s a certified giant killer—decimating Phara Funeral, Bonnie Godiva, and Torie Doe. She bodied Torie so badly, Torie essentially retired for two years. 

    40 B.A.R.R.S. and her solid reputation as a casket closer precede her.

  • Ill Will

    Battle rappers don’t come much more creative than Ill Will. His battle versus Charlie Clips remains a classic, but his matchup against Johnie Alcatraz personifies how hilarious and uproarious Ill Will can get. 

    He can shift from grimy to humorous on a dime and in that battle, specifically, he spent his third verse talking directly to Johnie Alcatraz’s tongue ring.

  • The Saurus

    The Saurus is a multi-decade staple who’s arguably the greatest from battle rap’s freestyle (off-the-dome) era. A GrindTime staple who also triumphed during the Scribble Jam era, The Saurus also defeated Hollohan to become King Of The Dot champion. Even in 2022, a number of greats still want to battle him. 

    Just ask New Jersey Twork.

  • Bill Collector

    Bill Collector’s ability to shift from humor to consciousness to gun-toting bars makes him one of the most entertaining MCs in the space. He personifies the Philadelphia flow and doesn’t have to sacrifice substance for style. His RBE Battle versus Hitman Holla is an instant classic that you should add to your rap battle menu.

  • Illmaculate

    Illmaculate deserves more credit. His punches are solid. His four-bar setup competes with some of the best in the biz. 

    He’s put together plenty of incredible rounds, but since his battles rarely amass the views as those ranked ahead of him, fans seem to look past his skillset. Regardless, Illmac should never be slept on.

  • B Dot

    Maybe it’s safe to say that B Dot is the closest there is to a West Coast Loaded Lux. Representing Pacoima, California, B Dot is uncompromising in his consciousness, wielding his faith in Kemetic Science like a sword. 

    He’s a perfect balance between militant and deadly without encroaching on preachy, something Chilla Jones felt firsthand in their classic battle.

  • T-Top

    T-Top’s resume is competitive with battlers that have been around much longer. In 2014, he was crowned champion of BET/URL’s Freestyle Friday

    Since then, he’s battled Rum Nitty, Goodz, Charlie Clips, and Geechi Gotti. T-Top knows how to pull the best out of his opponent and is always a safe bet to have the round of the night on any night he’s on the card.

  • Ave

    Ave is blessed with super solid wordplay and a knack for positioning potent punchlines. He brought loads of excitement when he first entered the space and along the way faced off against Math Hoffa, Geechi Gotti, JC, among others. 

    But if there’s one battle to watch, it’s his oft-cited, rewatch-worthy one-on-one against Rum Nitty.

  • Shotgun Suge

    Shotgun Suge’s stark realism and plain language are enough to make anyone he faces stand up straight. He’s gritty and cuts through opponents’ multilayered schemes and punches by making his rounds easy to digest. 

    He went bananas in his battle against Chess and proved his mettle against Pat Stay.

  • Eazy The Block Captain

    Eazy The Block Captain’s authenticity and Philly grittiness must be respected at all costs. Every bar in every round connects with an instant certification, elevating Reed Dollaz’s appeal in a modern context. 

    There’s an old man’s soul that permeates through his battles, something displayed lovely in his head-to-heads against Goodz and Chess, respectively.

  • John John Da Don

    John John Da Don is like the Bald Bull of battle rap: the road to the top tier goes through him. And spoiler alert, most competitors never come back. 

    John John’s held it down since the GrindTime era and continues to bring the best out of his opponents. For a decade plus, John John Da Don’s been a staple. You can never count him out.

  • Cortez

    Cortez’s longevity is impressive considering how underrated he’s been throughout his career. His freestyles are formidable. 

    His defense is impressively strong, rarely losing composure, and pushes opponents to bring their best because beating Cortez is a necessary notch in the belt. His battle versus B Dot is necessary viewing.

  • O-Red

    At his best, O-Red is a serious problem. He’ll go deep with the sports schemes, bringing an undeniable nostalgia to his rounds, as he exemplified in his battle against Young Ill and Ill Will, consistently. 

    If consistency wasn’t O-Red’s Achilles heel, he’d rank higher on this list.

  • JC

    If JC has a superpower it’s his remarkable penmanship. If he has two, it’s his pen and his ability to control a crowd. He knows it, too, displayed by his tendency to stop rhyming after every two bars just so the crowd can catch up. 

    His structure and associative wordplay elevate his craft. He’s a talented puncher and proved it in his battle against Tsu Surf.

  • Chilla Jones

    Chilla Jones’s lyrical schemes are relentless. It’s his truest mutant attribute. He can get locked in them to his detriment at times, but always finds a way to hit opponents in ways they weren’t expecting, a feat he pulled off to immense effect in his battle against JC. 

    When Chilla’s in his bag, he pulls the audience—both in person and online—into his clutches.

  • Goodz

    Few can deliver big-money bars better than Goodz. From his on-stage persona to his dress code to his temperament to his punchlines, Goodz oozes coolness and slick talk. 

    He’s like the Cam’ron of battle rap, ready with CFO-quality rounds in every battle. His matchup against Cassidy is an absolute must-watch.

  • Marv Won

    According to the battle rap website, Marv Won has logged a staggering 88 battles in his career, which is a testament to his longevity and consistency. 

    He’s survived every era of the sport, lacing opponents with rich, humorous punchlines. Just ask Eminem. Marv battled Em on the 8 Mile set and caught the legendary MC slipping that day.

  • Bigg K

    Bigg K is raw, and authentic, and transcends people’s preconceived notions about him. In every respect, he’s a stone-cold killer who’s not only run through the best of RBE but mainstays on King Of The Dot and URL, as well. 

    His battles against T-Top and Calicoe are both creeping near the 1 million view mark, but it’s his head-to-head against Ah Di Boom that is considered a classic.

  • Head Ice

    Head Ice is a triple OG in battle rap and has a couple of classic battles to his name, most notably his matchups against Arsonal, K-Shine, and Swave Sevah. His style is almost past rapping, in a sense. 

    He schools his opponents, schooling them like a wise uncle. His tapestry of words is colorful, imaginative, and always outside of the box.

  • Gattas

    Gattas has absolutely stacked her reps in battle rap and is arguably the first female star of this era. She’s a punchline-heavy, creative force that rarely includes throwaway bars. 

    Gattas have been a mainstay since GrindTime and survived every evolution that’s taken place within the culture ever since.

  • PassWurdz

    PassWurdz accomplished a remarkable feat for a battler with over 20 years in the sport. In 2022, he faced off against Bill Collector in the King Of The Dot’s F1 $100,000 final, working through multiple rounds for the chance to take home 100 racks. 

    He ended up losing, but for him to even make it to the finals at this stage in his career is a testament to the skills he built over the past two decades.

  • Shotty Horroh

    Shotty Horroh versus Arsonal is one of the most viewed battles in history, notching 14 million views on YouTube. 

    Representing the UK, Shotty boasts creative punchlines with an in-your-face approach that fits within the American scene without compromising his roots and style in the process.

  • Charron

    From appearances, Charron shouldn’t be as successful as he’s been in battle rap. He’s a scrawny, autistic kid who reveals his mental disabilities in his rounds. But battling through his shortcomings has proven profitable for Charron. 

    He’s gone head-to-head with the best, including Pat Stay on King Of The Dot and Shotgun Suge on URL. His ability to freestyle poignant rebuttals ensures he’s always a dangerous matchup.

  • Hollow Da Don

    1. Hollow Da Don is one of the battle rap’s most dangerous MCs. His schemes are sharper than ever while still boasting an impressive range of freestyles, comedy bars, and streetness. 
    2. Hollow’s gone head-to-head against Loaded Lux, Hitman Holla, Tsu Surf, and Pat Stay, among others in his career. And his URL debut against Big T remains one of the most devastating performances ever. In every sense, Hollow Da Don is the complete battler. 
    3. Whatever you might say in a round, he’s prepared to counter, flipping your bars against you

  • Rone

    Rone’s had a series of viral battle rap moments in his career. His freestyle battle against Charles Hamilton seems to reemerge every year, as does his fat-shaming round against Big T. Add that to his compliment battle against Pat Stay and Rone always seems to put himself in a position to create a moment.

    Justin “The Company Man” Hunte is an award-winning journalist, producer, and creator of ‘The Breakdown,’ a popular video series on YouTube. The Los Angeles-based multihyphenate currently serves as the Vice President of Production & Acquisition at Behind The Scenes Network.

Latest News

Subscribe for BET Updates

Provide your email address to receive our newsletter.

By clicking Subscribe, you confirm that you have read and agree to our Terms of Use and acknowledge our Privacy Policy. You also agree to receive marketing communications, updates, special offers (including partner offers) and other information from BET and the Paramount family of companies. You understand that you can unsubscribe at any time.