Epic Rap Battles of History has just wrapped up its 4th season. I was recently talking to a friend about my favorite Epic Rap Battles and it was an interesting enough conversation that I decided to go ahead and post the results here.
In case you’ve managed to not hear of them, the Epic Rap Battles of History (ERB) are a series of YouTube videos created by Nice Peter and EpicLLOYD. The duo, along with a never-ending stream of guest performers portray famous fictional and non-fictional characters and pit them against each other in rap battles. They’re one of the more popular acts on YouTube but they probably became more visible when they released a video during the 2012 Presidential campaign that pitted fictional versions of Barack Obama and Mitt Romney against each other. It still shows up as one of their most popular videos with over 110 million views. Of course, you can always just check out their YouTube channel to get acquainted with their work.
This is a top 10 list, but there’s been around 60 Rap Battles to date. So, there’s a lot of battles that didn’t make my top 10. In no particular order they are:
Darth Vader vs Hitler, Epic Lloyd vs Nice Peter, Einstein vs Stephen Hawking, Dr Seuss vs Shakespeare, Abe Lincoln vs Chuck Norris
Frank Sinatra vs Freddie Mercury, Michael Jackson vs Elvis Presley, Moses vs Santa Claus, Batman vs Sherlock Holmes, Adam vs Eve, Master Chief vs Leonidas
Miley Cyrus vs Joan of Arc, Sir Isaac Newton vs. Bill Nye
Jim Henson vs Stan Lee, Ghostbusters vs Mythbusters, Jack the Ripper vs Hannibal Lecter,
Now, on to the actual top 10
You can read my list below, or you can just play the YouTube playlist from the player.
10. Michael Jordan vs Muhammad Ali (Season 3)
Comedy duo Key & Peele become two of the greatest athletes in history. The rap battle pulls no punches, hitting on Ali’s Parkinson’s disease and Jordan’s gambling problems. I know it sounds harsh, but the video also hits on some of the high points of each person. A solid beat and some interesting camera effects made this a solid place to start the list.
Who Won: Muhammad Ali
9. Stephen King vs Edgar Allan Poe (Season 3)
It’s hard to listen to all the ERBs and not take notice when Watsky (George Watsky) starts to flow. The rapper has a particular talent for riding over a beat, delivering fast paced lyrics that usually blow his opponents out of the water. In this case, Watsky is playing the part of Edgar Allan Poe with another YouTube rapper, Zach Sherwin, playing Stephen King. Even though Sherwin doesn’t quite match his speed, the lyrics for King are almost as tongue tying, making for a really fun battle.
Who Won: Edgar Allan Poe
8. Mario Bros vs Wright Bros (Season 2)
Regular ERB guest stars and Good Mythical Morning hosts Rhett and Link play the Wright Brothers while Lloyd and Peter play the Mario Bros. The lyrics are good in this battle, but what makes this one of my favorites is the way that both the lyrics and the beat seamlessly fold in sounds and effects from the Mario Bros video games.
Who Won: Wright Bros
7. Doc Brown vs Doctor Who (Season 2)
Dr. Emmet Brown and the Doctor square off against each other in a time traveling rap battle. There’s plenty of references that let you know the ERB crew are fans of both series (either that or they talked to some). There’s a fun moment where Nice Peter’s version of the 10th Doctor is “exterminated” and regenerates into the 4th Doctor, played by Watsky. However, the best moment from the video is the ending, where the Doctor proves his time traveling superiority by simply going back to before it began.
Who Won: Doctor Who
6. Steve Jobs vs Bill Gates (Season 2)
Peter and Lloyd become the two most famous tech-icons of the modern era and the disses are great. One of my favorites is when Jobs asks Gates, “Why’d you name your company after your dick?” This is also another video with a twist. They have Jobs die only to replaced by a smooth rhyming Hal9000. That’s right, the computer from the movie 2001: A Space Odyssey. Wait, you don’t know what that is? Well then stop reading this and go watch it you heathen! Then you can be smarter than all your friends who haven’t.
Who Won: Steve Jobs
5. Romeo & Juliet vs Bonnie & Clyde (Season 4)
Peter and Lloyd are joined by YouTube personalities Grace Helbig and Hannah Hart. Lloyd and Hart play Bonnie and Clyde while Peter and Helbig play Romeo and Juliet. True to form, things end tragically for both couples, but not before some great one liners and marvelously hammed up acting on all four counts.
Who Won: Romeo and Juliet
4. Zeus vs Thor (Season 4)
ERB went deep on this one. The visuals are done by Maker Studios in the form of animated Legos. The battle is a little longer than normal and the disses pull from Greek, Norse and Marvel mythology. For my money, these are probably some of the most “intelligent” rhymes in the ERB catalog. One of my favorite lines is Thor to Zeus: “now make like your daddy, and swallow my babies”.
Who Won: Humanity
3. Artists vs TMNT (Season 3)
This is my favorite ERB beat and my favorite group battle. The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles battle against their namesakes, with Rhett and Link and Smosh playing the ancient artists. Peter and Lloyd voice the turtles, who actually look really good. It was actually a really close battle until Donny’s rhyme broke the flow a little bit.
Who Won: Artists
2. Barack Obama vs Mitt Romney (Season 2)
Probably the best social commentary of any of the ERB videos (and there are a few of them that try it). This video completely captures and mocks the vitriol that surrounded this particular election and does a great job of diffusing it into the foolishness it actually was. Not only that, but Alphacat’s portrayal of Obama was great for the video. Disses include subject like Romney’s religion and questioning Obama’s heritage. The best line between the candidates was Obama’s, “Republicans need a puppet and you fit. Got their hands so far up your rear, call you Mitt”. Of course, neither could stand up to Abraham Lincoln flying in to the battle carried by the wings of a bald eagle.
Who Won: Abraham Lincoln (because…of the people, by the people, for the people, EAGLE!)
1. Gandhi vs MLK (Season 2)
Key & Peele’s first appearance on the ERB. These two kind of changed the game for the ERB, being the first to have the two combatants interact with each other by crossing their backgrounds. The two are hilarious and so are the rhymes in this one. Peele is on fire as MLK with lines like, “Flatten your style like bread, naan violence” and “I’ve got so much street cred they write my name on the signs”. But it’s Key who delivers one of the best lines in ERB history as Gandhi: “I am celibate because, I don’t give a f***”.
Who Won: Gandhi