The old adage is “battle rappers can’t make [good] music.” Though there was an era that this was inarguable, of late there have been tons of releases attempting to challenge the idea. Granted, not every album, EP, or mixtape is going to challenge the DatPiff rankings in terms of quality and consistency, but many battle rappers from the written acapella era are dropping quality singles and videos at a rapid pace. That’s where “While You Were Sleeping” comes in, compiling some of the most notable music video releases from independent battlers and RapMusic emcees for easy consumption.
Even with some professional detachment, doing so many musical write-ups over the last year or so after initially being a bit of a battle rap fanatic has created sort of a mama bird effect in seeing these fledgling – often amateur, often unknown – artists release music. Even if it’s bad, even if it’s embarrassingly cliche, rote underground rap that exists just to imitate more authentic, more creative versions of the same genre or aesthetic – it’s still something. Someone sat down on their days off, whether they’re a weekend warrior or perpetually “in-between jobs”, and spent their time and maybe money cobbling together something that either truly represents who they are or think they are as a person or artist, or what they think will make them the most money.
As pathetic as the latter is, there’s something to be said about being willing to put yourself out there in the relative permanence of the internet and prostrate yourself before an already overwhelmed, jaded, and apathetic rap audience to be judged. That’s why the best feeling is seeing those little bright spots in the muck when underground MCs – especially battle rappers – produce quality material that you don’t have to grade on a curve. Following his retirement from battling, Toronto’s Tricky P has just dropped the video for his track “Right Here”. The video is pretty straightforward, but the song itself captures everything that makes Tricky “Tricky”; a melodic, bastard take on Philly and the Midwest’s sing-song flows combined with a shameless earnestness and wry smirk.
Also out this past week are new videos from Norristown, PA’s Bill Collector (“My Demons”), Detroit’s Doc Waffles (“Specificity of Tiny Lights”), an authentic Aussie diss track from Got Beef’s Greeley (“Captain Glenorchy Diss”), a bleary booze-out from Liverpool’s Innuendo (“Bottles Up Remix”), the latest from Australia’s Kerser (“They Will Never Understand”), signature dwarf lord raps from Swollen Members’ Madchild (“Last Emperor”), dope meditations on faith from Austin’s Phranchyze (“Exodus”), and a green screen-heavy performance clip from Montreal’s Scynikal (“Big Dreamz”). Check out all these week’s clips below and be sure to support underground hip-hop.