According to some, the heart of hip-hop beats to a battle rhyme. There’s a long-standing tradition of having MC’s battle each other in lyrical contests (while a DJ plays an instrumental track/s in the background) as a test of proficiency and nerve.
Even if you don’t know hip-hop, I know you watched 8 Mile, so I know you know what a battle is, and why it matters.
The greatest battle of all time occurred in 1981, in a club in Harlem, between Busy Bee and Kool Moe Dee. As this documentary clip illustrates, the battle was both the height of craftsmanship and world-historical. (Also, today is Kool Moe Dee’s birthday. Happy birthday, Champ.) (And thanks to Mincing Up The Morning.)