8 Things We Learned About Battle Rap Watching Total Slaughter

Total Slaughter brought Battle Rap to the forefront this past weekend and HipHopDX was there. Here's what we learned.

By a number of measures, this past weekend’s Total Slaughter debut was likely the biggest modern Battle Rap event ever. Of course the appearance of an artist like Joe Budden as a battler was the most obvious fodder for headlines during promotional lead-up, but the entire event was a new arena for the culture. Whether good or bad, the event and brand itself may be a productive corporate coup in a crowded space.

A few misfires withstanding, Total Slaughter has sectioned off a new place for itself on the scene. The next few weeks will undoubtedly be full of break-downs and reactions from every angle imaginable, but just as sure, there will soon be an announcement for the conglomerate’s next steps as well.

HipHopDX was on hand during the event to watch it all go down. There will be plenty more coverage to come, but for now, here are some of the things we learned about Total Slaughter over the weekend.

Total Slaughter Is A Different Stage For Battle Rap

While watching the stage being set-up on the eve of Total Slaughter, two things were immediately obvious. First, Battle Rap has reached a new level of production value as a crane-mounted camera panned every which way and professional engineers, sound crews, and light operators bustled about. It’s fair to say that the event ushered Battle Rap onto a new stage of prominence though consistent microphone troubles plagued entire battles as a glaring Achilles’ heel.

Second, Total Slaughter cleaned up some of Battle Rap’s roughest edges. Any fan of the scene is used to putting up with dozens of blunt-toking, Henny-sipping, selfie-taking “VIPs” onstage during a battle. At the Shady Films backed event, the battles were mostly free of that extra noise as DJ Kay Slay stood back and center as a referee and two battlers stood alone. Loaded Lux brought some folks onstage as part of an angle against Murda Mook, but they weren’t in the way. The headline battle featured some onstage support—Joell Ortiz and Crooked I deadpanned through Hollow Da Don’s rounds and laughed or clapped at nearly every Budden line—but it was a welcome change of pace from the norm to watch the battlers so easily.

Joe Budden Doesn’t Like Being Booed

In Battle Rap, even the most successful battlers face being booed, heckled, and sometimes publicly shamed onstage. Needless to say, that’s a change of pace for any industry rapper with a loyal fanbase (Joe Budden haters are probably not lining up at his shows). On Saturday (July 12), the Slaughterhouse emcee proved that while he wasn’t out of his league, the crowd reaction left him noticeably frustrated. After a strong first round against Hollow Da Don, Joe Budden stood apart from the pro battler with a delivery and cadence that was more akin to a diss track than a live take-down. His lines were clever and his punches formidable, but upon being booed in the third round, Budden didn’t seem to be able to take the heat. (By contrast, his telling the judges to stop the allotted time anytime he got cheers from the crowd was proof he was enjoying himself.)

“If y’all don’t stop booing I’m gonna stop rapping,” he said before putting the mic down onstage near the end of the battle. While he was granted some extra time to finish his round, Hollow powered through earlier bouts with negative responses and went straight for the mic once it left Joe’s hands. It was an interesting peek at the perseverance required of a battler and something to watch out for if any more industry heads take the same stage. 

Hip Hop Veterans Are Paying Attention

Nevermind that Sway Calloway hosted the event itself, and that DJ Kay Slay served as a quiet and thankfully mostly unnecessary referee, but the crowd was also dotted with Hip Hop vets. Busta Rhymes continued his support for the scene, Vin Rock of Naughty By Nature waved the UW Battle League (and Arsonal) flag, and a who’s who of battlers themselves showed out. Even Craig Mack was there, though. Perhaps in a final bit of affirmation, Hip Hop luminaries Kool Herc and Fab 5 Freddy crossed a generational divide with their presence at the venue.

A Bigger Crowd Is A Louder Crowd

The bigger Battle Rap gets, the louder the boos. In an unfortunate intersection with faulty microphones, the Total Slaughter crowd was rowdy. It was a good sign in some ways as the audience was like an intuitive fourth judge, but it also brings up an interesting question: how big can Battle Rap get before the crowd itself becomes an issue? As Pay-Per-View streams and different Internet broadcasts assimilate into the mainstream, higher view-counts will increasingly be a function of those technologies more so than the venue. In the meantime, in a culture so dominated by enthusiastic crowd reactions, the weekend’s showcase was proof that there may be a tipping point for how big a crowd Battle Rap can accommodate.

Battle Rap Is Right On Time

Alongside press designations for the usual Hip Hop and Battle Rap outlets, space for media conglomerates like Getty and The Daily Beast were evidence that the scene is expanding. In line with its arrival into a new public sphere, Total Slaughter may have started a new trend: a Battle Rap event that runs on time. Battle events are notorious for running hours late, sometimes to the point of botching the headline match-up as was the case when NOME 4 got shut down prematurely—or, more accurately, right when it was supposed to—last month. At Total Slaughter, the battles ran in a measure of minutes off-the-clock, not hours. At a few minutes to start time, an announcement rightfully signaled the start of the first battle. The downside? Fashionably late attendees looked a bit confused when they arrived hours late and the event was running on-schedule.

Pay-Per-View Didn’t Work; Affected Users Will Get A Refund

With all the live coverage and Tweeted updates, fans around the world could easily track the event’s progress online. That said, a lot of paying fans came out of pocket for a Pay-Per-View stream that was dead on arrival. Meanwhile, those who paid for a cable-based PPV—a hopefully more common trend in the industry—got their money’s worth as the online stream left plenty of users in the dark. After the event, WatchLOUD announced that affected users will get a full refund and half-off discount on the next Total Slaughter stream from In-Demand.

Murda Mook Returns & Loaded Lux’s Decline



  • Anonymous


  • JerkedSo

    WTF, if your outside of america your cannot get this and the videos haven't even made it out for purchase. Yeh e-fail


    U CANT COPY RESPECT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • G

    Battle rap just might save hip hop and make people stop rappin about non sense and finally be compettitive

  • The Clap

    This is a desecration of hip-hops grave.

  • battling is dead

    the pre-written battle rap scene is so corny. It's not even battling. it's roasting someone. especially with the stage. You don't have to be able to freestyle, ride a beat, or even have any rhythm. That's why there are so many corny whiteboys with absolutely no musical ability or semblance of rhythm, tone, or pitch that are able participate. Call it what it is. It's closer to the dozens or a comedy central roast. this is not battling! I remember Chicago in the 90s, cats were battling everywhere, Navy Pier, outside Sub T, the abbey, fireside, that one park in Pilsen, Union Park, Logan blue line stop... top of the dome with style and charisma. Now a bunch of corny white boys from the suburbs have taken over to the point that old school respected industry cats are playing into it. Anything to make a buck. Real hip hop has been bought and sold, the entire culture has been hijacked, misappropriated and ruined. this is not battling. not by a long shot. and slaughterhouse is one of the wackest excuses for a "super"group i've ever heard.

    • A.B.

      I agree with everything you said and the other commenter (d-nice). 1) The props are corny as I don't know what 2) The prewrittens are a NO in my book 3) No rhythm/meter??????? ARE YOU KIDDING ME? I say it all the time.. this new generation of battle crap is just straight up dumb.. it's not even battle rap. It's more like a poetry convention where there is a bunch of screaming at the top of the lungs and corny punch lines while all getting lost in finding the rhyme. And yes yes yes, the old schoolers are out there trying to support this junk??? Noooo!!! Because like someone said, it's all about the buck. I just knew it was me who thought this... It's like a nightmare lol!

    • battling is still dead

      I disagree that writtens were always part of battling. I do agree that certain MCs would recycle lines and throw them back into battles in the past, but those same lines also originated from freestyles. It's not a race thing, but the corporate battle rap scene was created by and provided an avenue for kids, predominantly white, who don't have any exposure to hip hop in their real life, and who fantasize on the internet, and whom possess no skills, to weasel their way into this thing of ours and get paid off of it. I'm from Chicago, been part of this culture my whole life, and don't know anyone from back in the days of serious battling that spit writtens. Ask Supernatural, Juice, Eyedea, Prime, Qwel, Immortal Technique..shoot ask DMX, Jay Z, Big L, Lord Finesse, Common, Twista back in the 90s if they spit writtens. I actually think Em made some of his freestyles into verses and not vice versa. It's disheartening to see f'n Canibus and other old school respected artists be bought into this scene and then embarrassed. I hate the current state of hip hop, not to sound embittered, but the internet and all you cornballs have ruined it. Not everyone is meant to be a rapper, and no matter what your frat buddies tell you or your corn chip friends tell you in your suburban basement in the middle of a cornfield in Iowa, you suck. bad.

    • d-nice

      Well said, I'm going to keep race out of it because whites support more real hip hop than us blacks at this point... I'm old and old school I want to see cats go off the top not scripted raps and dumb props with talking....This shit is corny as hell to me... I want 8 mile type ish this is weak as hell.....Cadence, flow & delivery off the top...This shit is pop stuff, budden and them are not underground hip hop they have wack commercial beats....They have skills but they are trying to dance the line between underground and commercial.........Rap is not pop if you call that than stop.

    • Anonymous

      actually, its the white boys who freestyle more than black rappers because they want that respect which is harder to come by.

    • stfuuignants

      I agree w/everything except for the written part. There were writtens in battles, always. I remember the battle with MC Juice & Eminem....and Em was kicking writtens. Even back to the Kool Moe Dee vs Busy Bee days. Sometimes someone would go off the top like Supernatural, MC Juice etc...but some would do a combo of both

    • battling is still dead

      maybe you're right, what I was referring to as "corny" white boys are people like Dizaster, Mood Swangz, Vesh, who else have I seen on this site? some who have a ton of notoriety but have a terrible voice, no rhythm, no charisma, no delivery, he's essentially playing the dozens in the lunchroom. to further my point, battling was never written. ever. I get it, i'm getting older and think that hip hop is way too oversaturated and way too accessible. I don't like to play the race card, but only a handful of these whiteboys were born and bred out of this culture, while the majority learned about hip hop from the internet the past 10 years. now people who can write jokes are MCs battling? these little white kids from Iowa, Minnesota, the suburbs, the small towns, that never grew up in the city or participated in the culture. it's sad. I have an Iphone, but yeah it's hard to let go of the past an admit that hip hop has become one oversaturated terrible joke. the internet created a monster. now talent & skills and respect for the history and the culture of hip hop are not important.

    • Klass

      I understand what your saying but you sound mighty stuck in the past my friend. Do you have a ell phone? WHy? thats not how telecommunication is suppose to be. I remember when I'd had to wait until my moms would get off the phone with her friend so I could talk to my girl back in the day. Or remember those party lines.. You could have multiple ppl on their. Thats when shit was real, you had to be on time for shit, wasn't no GPS. My dude, things change. That doesn't mean it got lost. It means it changed.. like everything will change. Get in where you fir in, or go to verzion and give them ya cell phone back.. and take a dial tone. 1

    • Anonymous

      I agree with much of what you said except it has nothing to do with being a corny white boy.

  • Elysian Fields

    The wackest battle ever. A 2 year old kid could do better than these two fools.

  • Wow

    "professional engineers, sound crews, and light operators" LMFAO! there was nothing professional about any of those, the event staff was pathetic & should all be fired & banned from working such an event in the future.

  • j

    Lesson 1: Don't use a fucking lav! What MC doesn't like holding the mic?

  • Anonymous

    Joey bada$$ - J cole be a good 1 too

  • james

    Should get dre and Eminem to invest a million bucks into it. get a DJ to play some sick beats and get some heavy weight mc's into battle each other. I would like to see Kendrick Lamar vs Drake headlining. That shit would be to fucking sick.

  • stfuuignants

    Budden was actually winning according to most. Rap Battle audiences often are annoying as fucc, as usual. Its more about them then the mcs performing in their minds. Him walking away was like a receiver throwing the ball down before crossing the goal line. Stupid and it opened him up to the "sensitive industry nicca" comments. And I expected Hollow to win easily.

  • Brian

    Haha, Technical Difficulties was Total Slaughter`s only flaw. As far as the Battlers performance it can Happen On URL, Dont Flop, Kotd or AHAT haha. Stop hating & Just be apart of History :D

  • JamesTheNiggaHatinDolphin

    That shit was a fucking joke. I ordered it on PPV and it didn't work until the next day. Secondly, this was the most unorganized televised even I have ever seen. These dudes were struggling to find working microphones. Doing sound checks on live TV. This is why black people can't have nice things...we half ass every opportunity we get.

  • Anonymous

    The first video Don sounds like he has a wad of cum in his mouth.

  • Anonymous

    Lesson 1: Battle rap sucks Lesson 2: Laughterhouse is worse Steinski >>>>>>>>>>