Calling into the AngryFans Radio battle rap show to offer his feelings on the current state of Battle Rap, Hot 97 Program Director Ebro Darden described his distaste for the a capella format within Battle Rap.
Explaining his affinity for Battle Rap’s aggressive nature, Ebro detailed wanting to hear more musicality in the industry. “The savagery part I actually enjoy,” he said. “It’s the lack of musicality. It’s the lack of party rock, master of ceremonies. For me, I think the Battle Rap, and that’s why I’m old, I’m from a time where you had to be able to stay in pocket and rock to the beat, and now it’s more like angry, spoken word poetry now.”
During the interview, Ebro went on about his perception of Battle Rap’s current disconnect from Hip Hop’s beginnings. “It is the most aggressive artform right now, as far as the four artforms of Hip Hop,” he said. “My only issue is I don’t appreciate the lack of music. Here’s why, in the party back in the day, when this whole shit started, the emcee only got to rock the mic when the deejay said so. Somewhere along the lines we lost focus and now all of a sudden the emcee thinks he’s more than important than the deejay. So now you have a circumstance where cats get on the edge of that stage and they spitting on eachother and sweating and carrying on, and niggas ain’t on beat. Where the music at? Put some beats to it, put some beats under it.”
When asked if he’d consider promoting a competition of his own which did feature battlers rapping over production, Ebro said he’d partner with someone more savvy within the industry. “I would partner with people,” he said. “I don’t wanna act like that’s my world. I would pay my respects and partner with people that do that world for a living. That’s ya’ll shit.”
Ebro Talks About Battle Rap Fans And Popularity
Admitting that he’s received recommendations from popular artists on behalf of the rising battle rap space, Ebro referenced A Tribe Called Quest emcee as responsible for his knowing about SMACK. “Q-Tip introduced me to Smack," he says. "Swizz Beatz cosigned it. I hear it from all these dudes. We watch it. We paying attention. Like I told ya’ll, I’m here to challenge ya’ll niggas and be like, ‘Where the music at?’”
The Hot 97 VP added that the scope and nature of battle rap fans is impressive, hinting at the possibility of corporate interest down the line. “Ya’ll show up and I do respect that part,” he said. “I respect that it has a hardcore following. Matter of fact...there will be shit in the next 18 months for battle rap because people are watching. There will be new technology. People are watching how committed and focused the fanbase is. There will be technology that comes out that allows you guys to exchange with one another on another level that’s gonna be pretty dope. I saw some shit recently that’s gonna be amazing. It’ll be dope. It’ll be on some real cellphone app technology shit where niggas will be able to battle straight from their phones and just skip the Internet.”
Offering his feelings on the upcoming Road To Total Slaughter Battle Rap reality series scheduled to run on Shady’s Vevo channel, Ebro described the positive effect the show could have. “It’s going to be a good look,” he said, rejecting the idea that the label and Slaughterhouse are simply cashing in on Battle Rap’s current popularity. “I wouldn’t say that for Paul [Rosenberg] and those guy. They showcased battle rap as a part of their movie in 8 Mile. Battle Rap was a big part of that whole thing. Obviously that’s something that’s very important to them. They’re just trying to support something that they believe is a necessary piece of our culture.”