Ebro Darden Says Battle Rap Lacks Musicality

The Hot 97 Program Director says, "I'm not saying battle rap is wack. I'm saying niggas is childish, niggas is immature and niggas need to get on some beats."

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.”

RELATED: Talib Kweli & Ebro Darden Debate The State Of New York Hip Hop Radio

44 Comments

  • Anonymous

    I really hate this guy.. this people want to ruin the culture. hip hop doesnt need liberal thinking, it needs conservatism and moderates. this guy wants people to freestyle battling? cmon smh

  • nuc

    Any1 remember Freestyle Fridays on 106.... NOW THAT WAS BATTLE ! proper platform, over beats, proper judging on, huge audience, no swearing (kept rappers on they toes) ish was gold! still remember JIN holding his title forever.

  • Truth2

    What Ebro said is what ive been thinking for a long time. But I wouldn't be as nice. Battle rappers are trash, their whole following is wack. And most of their rap names are stupid as hell.. The only way battle rapping could be cool is if the DJ was in charge and there were beats, AND, battle rappers could eventually make music. But no, battle rappers almost never progress to anything else. Thats all they do. Alot of white battle rappers love their "jobs". Because its easier to yell and think of insults then to rhyme on a beat, or makes music

  • Anonymous

    Co-fucking-sign, it aint shit unless you rappin on beat

  • Anonymous

    i agree they need to spit on beats, right now it's just dudes yelling at each other (WACK)

  • Anonymous

    no shit ...its a freestyle battle...ebro is pink cookies in a plastic bag gay!!!

  • realtalk

    The fact of the matter is these accapella bars that battle rappers spit are far better than almost anything Ebro plays on his program lyrically. Lately they've been doing right, with the warmer weather coming out, bumpin some classics. & just recently they went in for the anniversary of BIG's death. But what's 10-20 days out of the year to promote dope ass classics and good lyricism when there's 365 days. Ebro talks about musicality as if he wants battle rap to sell out. Its nice how it is. They have battle leagues that experiment with beats. They have leagues that are strictly accapella. Ebro is promoting the watering down of the artform by sayin the nonsense he's sayin. The same artform he's already watering down by playing watered down tracks with no lyricism. & I can't put all the blame on him cuz i know its politics involved and bills to be paid as far as what goes on in Hot 97's mind when they play some of the songs they play but somethings gotta be done and it starts at the highest level. Ya'll control what gets spins. If you stop playin YG & French people wont care for YG & French

    • Anonymous

      they play what keeps the audience tuned to their station regardless if its quality music or not its a business...if the meter shows they lost a certain amount of listeners when they played a joey badass song every time they played it within a week or two, theyre going to stop playing that song...thats why you hear the same songs every two hours because thats what keeps the majority of sheep listening....hot 97 does play a lot more undeground shit than the other major radio stations in the US but its a business accept it for what it is and just listen to the throwback at noon

  • nuc

    well........he's not saying anything untrue. if you garner a platform.... SAY SOMETHING.

  • Anonymis

    I think it balances out, the music he his station plays during the day lacks lyricality.

  • Manny Faces

    He's right. It also doesn't need it. So his opinion is just an opinion. His job title doesn't give him any more credence than any random person on the street. I wouldn't spend any time thinking about what a random person in the street thought about the lack of music in battle rap, so I'm equally unconcerned about what Ebro thinks about it. Moving along.

  • perlo cantone

    ebro sounds pretty angry about it . . . like a battle rapper or something . . .

  • Hip Hop Activist

    for the very first time..fuck boy Ebro had a point,at what point the battle organizers dropped the beat,Battle rap on a bigger scale was been presented with a background beat..these battle rappers are very good but cant flow on a beat..thats y its hard for them to make good songs...ebro talked about party rock..thats was were i disagreed with him thou..him and his fuck station dont supports ny rappers always playing and promoting southern rappers!

    • Anonymous

      ny rappers need to put out better music that more than 10,000 people in ny want to listen to....theres over 10 million people in the ny area they play what keeps the audience...n hot 97 had action bronson troy ave n bodega bamz songs in rotation and no songs from future aside from features...

  • El Negro

    What Ebro doesn't understand is the BATTLE RAP IS BATTLE RAP. IT's a battle. When you are BATTLING somebody how in the hell can you be worried about musicality when it's acapella? Ebro is sooooo lame and is one of the MAIN reason NYC fell off. He is REALLY not knowledgeable about the culture, he trolls Charlemagne the God and it's beyond me how Hot 97's uber-white investors entrust somebody that even looks like him as their Program Director. If he's soooo old then retire. I'm sure he makes enough money to have his monies properly secured and well vested. The same with Angie Martinez and Funk Flex. That's why the Breakfast Club has higher ratings than ANY Hot 97 show because Hot 97's whole staff has NO personality. Even Rosenburg, he has NO personality, no flair, no swag, these people are not really in tune with Hip Hop. If a BATTLE rapper can't make music I DON'T GIVE A SHIT. That's on them. All I care about is when I hear Big T, Loaded Lux, Hollow the Don, Charlie Clips and Hitman Holla get on stage is that they come with BARS. If they get in the studio and can't make a hit or a good song how in the hell is that a slight on BATTLE RAP? You need BATTLE RAP. It's probably the ONLY original element left in Hip Hop and you need more league besides the URL. Ebro is a clown but hey he's a New York niggas so what you expect. IT's a alot of REAL cats in NYC but for the love of God and I'm not hatin because NYC is the mecca of Hip Hop but it's definitely more clowns in NYC per capita than any other place that I can think of. Atlanta is a VERY close second.

    • No flair no swag

      lmao YOU need URL and all that shit not everyone else does and ebros from the bay...

    • Anonymous

      if the niggaz is battlin on a corner where the fuck they gon get beat and rap to it? lol

    • Anonymous

      @Anon People have been battling without beats since hip-hop began. Thats why his whole argument is flawed. People have always been hanging around in the living room, on the corner, wherever, just spitting and battling each other without beats.

    • Anonymous

      #1. People have been battling on beats since Hip Hop began. That was his point. Where did this no music form begin? It really is more aggressive spoken word than it is music, that's Ebro's point, and I agree. #2. You gotta do your HW, he's from Sacramento not NY, just works at Hot97 #3. I think the Hot97 group is much closer to the culture of Hip Hop as a whole then that Power 105 group that's only in it for the syndication and the ratings.

  • JERZZZ

    Man this nigga is the epitome of a new nigga. Like how you in N.Y., the birthplace of hip hop, where Biggie Smalls and Jay Z were born. Arguably the illest and arguable the second illest rhymers to ever bless a mic. It aint about party rock stupid, its the core and essence of hip hop. Niggas like you keepin dope east coast spitters behind the curtain while yall bump another "party rock" khaled record feat drake wayne nicki. Fuck outta here ebro. You the oldest new nigga I ever heard of.

  • Anonymous

    all you die hard hip hop purists just need to face it: ain't no future in battlin niccaz your whole life in a fuckin alley when you could be makin millions off this industry shit

    • Anonymous

      and there you nikkas go with that fuck shit. "at least there's a lane where skills matter more than sales" oh word my nigga? so you just gon eat and get rich off your skills and not record sales? smh wake the fuck up yo, don't nobody give a shit if you the next rakim if you can't even make a hit record, if you don't wanna hear me then keep living in your fantasy world where all the niggaz is rappin against each other on a corner and not gettin any money from it like some fuckin fools lol

    • Anonymis

      Why do you think purists only follow battle rap? And how's being a purist a bad thing? The industry is crowded enough to have another million muhfuckas trying to get in the recording industry, as a matter of fact I wish you had to apply to be rapper and they stopped taking applications at least there's a lane where skills matter more than sales, what your favorite rapper makes doesn't do anything for your playlist you just got a rich wack nigga on your playlist.

  • Anonymous

    EBRO CULTURE VULTURE FUCK HOT97

  • NA SON

    This clown is begging for attention again, we watch battle rap to escape what this clown allows to be playedmon the radio in this stupid swag era

  • poetic assasin

    poeticassasin.com as a spoken word artist I take offense to this, I can stay on beat pretty well - we want everything to be boxed in and sound the same . let them do it how they do it.

  • Anonymous

    Hurricane Game went to battle and destroyed his enemies career.

  • Anonymous

    for real niggas got no flow

  • Ebruh

    You wont hear that new mob deep joint on this station but is fire

  • Ebruh

    hot97 a new York station that don't play ny rap

  • Youngin

    This is why I hate old people. They don't know shit. Instead of embracing new change they want the young generation to control to their old washed up ways. Who is Ebro anyways? No swag at all

  • K Dot Mob

    It used to be all about the rhymes but then 50 came along and turned it into a circus and made it about everything except the music and the culture still hasn't recovered. Kendrick made it fun again.

  • DG

    He's right about this one. At what point did battle rappers decide to drop the instrumental? What's the point?

  • Yep

    +1 co-sign. Dont care about your rhymes if you cant do it on beat. Thats not battle rap, that's spoken work poetry.

  • RC

    Most battle rappers are just comedians on the mic & don't really go anywhere anyways. Look at guys like Postaboy & Jin, What the hell they doing now? Now look at the guys they 'beat' like Immortal Technique & Skyzoo. Battle rap is nice & shit but there is absolutely no future or opportunity for growth if that's all you can do.

    • Justin Hunte

      This is one of those awesome occasions where both sides are kicking truth. I agree with both Hollywood and RC because a.) Yes, mid to top tier battle rappers can make a teacher's salary off battles alone, which is enough to motivate anyone who loves battle rapping enough to risk it all for a shot at being the greatest at it, and b.) there is absolutely a limited number of mid to top tier battle rappers with a large enough draw to constitute a 50K purse. I mean, Lux is (was?) arguably the biggest draw in post-SMACK battle rap history, and even his most recent negotiations were centered around $40,000. I just think it's interesting hearing someone tell someone else to quit battle rapping and focus on music because of the extra job security. Whether that's good or bad doesn't matter. It's an awesome reality regardless. Thank you both for commenting.

    • RC

      Key word is 'some' though dogg, most will not. 50k is a pretty generous estimate but definitely not your typical winnings, and at that 50k is pocket change in the grand scheme of things. That's barely the median income for an average family & its not gonna last forever only difference is you can continue making that money probably more if you grow as an actual artist. But staying in that battle rap lane there's always gonna be somebody younger, wittier or fresher & more popular than you. Only thing is now you just a washed up battle rapper who had a few nice punchlines here & there but now you're old news, the scene has moved on to the next up & coming kid and you got no mantle, legacy (albums, mixtapes, fanbase etc.) to tack those prizes & accolades on. In the end the fame & money if any is short lived, not sustainable which ultimately equals out to no future for most who just strictly battle. There's a whole rap sheet of dudes who were nice little freestylers but ultimately went nowhere & were forgotten because they couldn't grow as artist. The history books remember artist not battlers, or battlers who were able to outgrow & branch out into well rounded creative emcees.

    • Hollywood

      what do you mean theres no future in it??? these battle rappers are traveling the globe, sometimes winning 50k for a 20 minute battle. i gaurantee you cant make 50k in 20 minutes, but will you quit your day job because theres "no future" in it? i didnt think so salute to these cats..anybody in general doing what they love to do

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