Since its debut in 2010, FlipTop Rap Battle League has since become a driving force in Pinoy hip hop, providing an inclusive platform to MCs of all backgrounds, bringing hip hop to the streets and the masses: raw, unfiltered—fundamentally shaping the perspective when it comes to tradition-based censorship but also, as important, asserting that what’s safe and palatable are not the only options for the Filipino audience.
More than a decade later, FlipTop’s tenacious influence continues to open new doors and break new grounds, launching the careers of many of its seasoned battle rappers and becoming the premier platform not just for rappers, but producers, DJs, visual artists, and many more. It has since launched its equally independent music label, UPRISING.
With a millions-strong community and fierce supporters as well as global recognition, FlipTop’s ascent is unprecedented. Hip hop in the Philippines has always been an outlier, rarely breaking into the mainstream. In this writer’s opinion, its success is how it brought an entire community, culture, and craft into the conversation, disrupting the status quo. For so long, hip hop fought a seat at the table—so FlipTop made their own.
To celebrate FlipTop’s 12th anniversary, we’re reliving its 12 most-watched videos over the years. With combined views of more than 2 billion as of writing, it’s not a surprise that FlipTop MCs almost swept the top 10 most-viewed battle rappers in the world in any language, according to battle rap music index site VerseTracker, with nine out of the top 10 list (the sole non-Filipino rapper in the list is Oxxxymiron from Russia).
Sinio tops the list with more than 313 million views in his 21 battles, averaging nearly 15 million views per battle. The other rappers who made it in the list are, in order: Loonie (2nd at 213 million), Tipsy D (3rd at 199 million), Shernan (4th at 189 million), Zaito (5th at 186 million), Shehyee (7th at 160 million), Abra (8th at 145 million), Smugglaz (9th at 126 million), and Dello (10th at 102 million).
12. Sinio/Tipsy D vs PriceTagg/Kris Delano
20.5 million views
Winner: Sinio/Tipsy D
One of the league’s most popular staples is Dos por Dos (two for two), a tag-team freestyle rap battle format. This 2017 battle was held in the now-defunct B-Side in Makati City between team Kris Delano and PriceTagg and team Tipsy D and Sinio.
Tipsy D and Sinio’s approach was cheeky and comical, whereas Kris Delano and PriceTagg’s rebuttal was abrasive. Fans particularly laud the moment when Sinio prevented the crowd from booing after PriceTagg took a second for his turn. In the end, Tipsy D and Sinio were chosen as the winner for their chemistry and a “more effective” plan of attack. Batas, who served as a judge (though he said his vote didn’t make it in time), said that Kris Delano and PriceTagg failed to regain momentum.
11. Sinio vs Flict-G
20.6 million views
This 2015 battle from the 3rd Unibersikulo event has been commended by fans not only for its timelessness but the sportsmanship between the two seasoned rapper, including Flict-G, who represents iconic rap groups Repablikan Syndicate and Shockra. In the end, Flict-G nabbed the win in a 3-2 decision, noting that the rapper’s ferociousness inches him more for a win, but judge and fellow MC BLKD favored Sinio and said that the simplicity in his structure was nevertheless noteworthy.
10. Tipsy D vs Sinio
21.7 million views
Winner: Tipsy D
The last battle in the 2nd installment of Aspakan in 2014 was dubbed as the “Battle of Central Luzon”—a neck-and-neck session, with the final decision boiling down to nitpicking on and/or highlighting small details, praising Sinio’s time machine concept and rebuttal skills but the judges were mighty impressed with Tipsy D’s lyricism, flow, setup, and overall concept—handing him the win by unanimous decision.
9. Zaito vs Bassilyo
22.2 million views
Considered one of the classic battles in FlipTop history, the 2012 (and inaugural edition of) Unibersikulo’s Dos Por Dos finals and Boom Bap Fridays battle is cited as pure comedic rap showdown. Zaito opens with a punchline-filled bar (and the judges selected him as the winner for this round). Still, Bassilyo was able not just to match his opponent, but also was able to showcase a sharp, almost tailored response to Zaito. Fans especially praised both MCs skills and thought that overall, the battle was delightful and worth repeating many years later.
8. Loonie vs Tipsy D
22.8 million views
At this point, Tipsy D has established himself as one of the most formidable and whipsmart battle MCs in the league, so much so that his opponent, Loonie, has openly recognized the significance of going against one of the bests. Both rappers had only one loss in their record during this battle.
In the third edition of Bwelta Balentong in 2016, Loonie prevailed—both fans and judges agree that his strategic approach enabled him to outsmart and outplay Tipsy D in this battle: finding his weak points and more structured and pointed setups compared to his opponent.
7. Sinio vs Zaito
23.1 million views
The fourth edition of Aspakan in 2016 was highly commendable for both MCs palpable respect for each other and the sportsmanship in what’s fondly considered a “laugh trip” battle for many FlipTop fans.
Although Sinio was declared the winner by all five judges—noting his consistency, wit, and masterful style—Zaito proves why he was a fan favorite, someone who seems like they are thoroughly enjoying their craft, having a good time, and displaying no animosity, even in his competitive mode.
6. Sinio vs Sak Maestro
23.5 million views
Sinio makes his trip to Manila from his hometown of Pampanga worth every damn time. But his opponent, Sak Maestro, who flew in from Mindanao, made his visit just as worthwhile, not handing Sinio a 5-0 win. Both MCs were gracious about the battle and though the judges overwhelmingly chose Sinio, BLKD explained that he voted for Sak Maestro based on the level of intricacy and creativity he delivered against an already strong competitor in Sinio.
5. Loonie vs Aklas
36.3 million views
Winner: None—in the spirit of the holiday season
This battle took place the same day as the Sinio vs Sak Maestro battle during the 2nd day of Ahon 5, shortly before Christmas in 2014. Inarguably one of the league’s most iconic moments (Loonie donning a priest’s cassock alone is worth the replay), Loonie’s commanding stage presence ties in nicely with his theme—not spirituality or religion, but of omnipresent power, much like the Church does).
Although the battle was not judged and there was no declared winner, the venue’s buzzing energy and palpable excitement for the battle easily make this a FlipTop classic.
4. Shernan vs Lil Sisa
36.5 million views
Winner: Lil Sisa
The Isabuhay finals in 2016 yielded one of the most-viewed battles in FlipTop history that includes a female MC (in her second battle, nonetheless). Fans appreciated Shernan not going for the low-lying fruit and misogynistic jokes. Instead, the two went on a romantic storyline filled with backhanded compliments and shade, all done in good fun.
3. Shernan vs Hazky
38.5 million views
The sixth edition of Bwelta Balentong in 2019 (which was dedicated to rapper Lil John, who died that year) saw Shernan and Hazky—both in drag—exploring a quintessentially Pinoy storyline in TV and film: infidelity, i.e., the wife versus the mistress, demonstrating how far beyond commentary can go, parody or not.
2. Shehyee vs Sinio
47.1 million views
This 2016 battle from Ahon 7’s kickoff yielded a controversy that made into national headlines and resulted to threats of a lawsuit, prompting discussions on how far is “going too far”? The battle immediately went viral and earned backlash against what was deemed “offensive” by the mother of Shehyee’s girlfriend, who expressed that she wanted to sue Sinio (who won the match in a 5-0 decision). Both rappers took to social media to clarify the issue, and was ultimately resolved.
At the time, founder Anygma told HipHopDX, “It’s not a big deal and mainstream media is just trying to cash in on the little misunderstanding for ratings. It’s been blown way out of proportion and it sucks how media would rather focus on that than the strength of the battle itself or our league as a whole. And yeah, it also doesn’t matter anymore cos the persons involved had agreed not to push through on that exact same day so it’s weird and telling how people are still trying to milk it. Also too many other vastly more important issues in our country and around the world instead of this petty bullshit.”
1. Loonie/Abra vs Shehyee/Smugglaz
49.6 million views
Winner: Team SS
This decade-old battle remains the most-viewed match in FlipTop history for numerous reasons, starting with the billing itself. The Dos Por Dos semi-finals battle between team Loonie and Abra and team Shehyee/Smugglaz—overwhelmingly dubbed by fans as the “Best FlipTop Battle”—ultimately went to team Shehyee/Smugglaz in a 7-0 decision, with high praises for the winning duo’s fantastic edge, with most of them picking SS for all three rounds. Time for a rewatch.