I’ve tried to make the following post make sense to people who have no knowledge of battle rap but at points some of what I’ve written doesn’t make sense if you have none. As I stated this in my first post, I’m writing this for me rather than anyone else so I’m not going to try my hardest for everyone to understand it.
If you bothered reading my first post you would have seen that my favourite rap battle of all time is Oshea vs Tony D. This battle was the second ever title match for Don’t Flop (the biggest battle rap league based in the UK) and took place in 2012, with Oshea as the then current champ and Tony being the challenger.
Link to battle: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pJunwBxc5ss&t=524s
For those of you (pretty much everyone) who have no idea what a rap battle is or who either of the two people involved in this are, I’ll try to give a bit of backstory to this:
For those of you who’ve seen 8 mile you may think that a rap battle consists of freestyling insults at each other over a beat inside an abandoned warehouse and you have to be a . Rap battles used to be entirely freestyle and done in a similar style to what’s shown in the film. However in the past few years the prominent style of Battle Rap has changed to an acapella format with written verses, like this one is. Many of the people involved in battle rap (particularly in the UK) don’t make music and are not rappers by trade, some are poets, some are comedians and some just use it as a creative outlet. This battle, like most nowadays, consists of each battler performing three, three minute rounds.
Oshea is a liverpudlian comedy rapper who’s made 3 albums with the rap group “Dick Limerick Academy”. Which just about sums up his attitude towards rapping and how he approaches battles in general. He is well-known for his mum jokes and is rarely seen performing without a beer (or three) in his hand. He has been involved in the UK battle rap scene for many years (from before Don’t Flop even existed) and has taken part in 104 battles on camera and many more off camera as well. He was the first Don’t Flop champion and is still a fan favourite to this day.
Tony D is a UK Hip-Hop veteran, who has been involved in the scene for two decades. Previously of Poisonous Poets (which also featured the likes of Doc Brown and Lowkey). He is one of the UK’s most talented rappers ever but due to a lack of interest in the business side of the industry he’s never reached the level of success he could have done. In terms of battle rap he’s often regarded as the best battle rapper to come from the UK in the written era. He won 4 title matches in a row and only stopped being the UK champion after giving up the title after defeating Unanymous in 2015.
Now that I’ve given a terrible description of modern battle rap and the battlers involved in this battle, onto the battle:
Having rewatched this battle in preparation for writing this, I forgot that there was three and a half minutes of introduction before the battle itself starts. Normally things like this really irritate me but my love for the battle itself means that I must have blanked this out from my memory. Tony won the coin toss (off-camera) and chose Oshea to go first.
OSHEA’S 1ST ROUND: “Listen as I spit Jed, the D in Tony D stands for dickhead!” This opening line shows how seriously Oshea takes this battle and sets the tone for his first round, which consists of a series of jokes without too much of a strucure linking the whole thing together. Other highlights from Oshea’s first include, “he says his missus doesn’t like white boys, she hasn’t met me yet”. And “I show no mercy, bona fide low down dirty bastard, I got my fingers in all sorts like Bertie Bassett.”
TONY D’S 1ST ROUND: Tony starts off his round in his usual slick manner with a scheme about the film “Snatch” (a film I may write about at some point) to describe how he’s gonnna snatch the title from Oshea. The stark contrast in styles is clear as this couldn’t be more different to Oshea’s opener. Tony then moves on to say that the battle is “easy money like Eric Wright’s last will and testament” (my personal favourite line from this round). Tony then moves on to say that he can do Oshea’s style better than Oshea himself and make a series of “irrelevant” mum jokes, including, “for the 9 months she carried you, her nickname for you was cockblocker”. This whole series of jokes is extremely well put together as it is Tony’s way of showing that he could do Oshea’s style if he wanted to but that battle rap isn’t just about making jokes.
RANDOM THING I NOTICED: As Oshea went first, these rounds go in perfect order as Tony breaks down Oshea’s style in his first round and Oshea responds by breaking down Tony’s style in his next. If the order had been different the battle wouldn’t have flowed so well from one round to the next.
OSHEA’S SECOND ROUND: Oshea’s second round is my favourite round of this battle as he comprehensively assassinates Tony’s character and manages to fit in some of his revered jokes before doing so, such as: “There’s no way I can be racist, I’ve got at least 3 DVDs starring Morgan Freeman”. And, “I’m Oshea, mum joke rapper. I’ll grab your cancer-riddled nan and blow blunt smoke at her”. He then accuses Tony of compiling words on a particular subject until it just about makes sense and then uses it. He chooses Arnie and Sly films as his basis to demonstrate how Tony does so including such gems as “I tell his bird True Lies til she going Commando”, and in describing Tony’s girlfriend says “I’ll erase her (Eraser) cos to me she’s just Expendable Collateral Damage”. Fitting three different films into a sentence like that and still making sense goes to show that Oshea can write in that style if he wanted to but he has no desire to. Likewise to what Tony said about Oshea’s style.
TONY’S SECOND ROUND: Tony starts off his second round with a scheme about golf, ending with a punchline about “parring” Oshea. Although this is a very well put together scheme with a good punchline at the end. Tony did exactly what Oshea described in putting a load of words together on the same subject until it sort of makes sense. As Oshea has said this immediately before Tony’s scheme, it makes it hit a lot less for me. For me this is the weakest round of the battle as Tony talks about smoking weed for too long and I don’t really see the point as to why. Even though there’s good wordplay on methodman and redman in doing so, it still feels kind of pointless to me. It doesn’t insult Oshea and it doesn’t make him look like a better person. He then moves into a scheme about Everton (the team that Oshea supports), and has some good wordplay on Fellaini, Phil Neville and Steven Pienaar. He finishes talking about Everton, and the round, by saying that his team’s so wet that even the manager’s moist (Moyes). This battle was in 2012, so all those players and David Moyes were at the club at this point so it does make sense.
OSHEA’S THIRD ROUND: Oshea starts his round by freestyling about his joy that Tony did exactly what he’d said he’d do in round 2 and do long pointless schemes on a random subject. This is followed by my favourite line from Oshea in the whole battle, “fuck the internet, I roll with trolls that live under bridges that wave more sticks than 100 wizards”. It makes absolutely no sense and amazingly so. Also the idea of Oshea hanging out with actual trolls who live under bridges and own guns is such an amazingly ridiculous image. The other part of this round that I love is Oshea’s comparison of public transport in Liverpool and London. He says that in London “getting from A to B is solid as fuck, in Liverpool I just fucking get on a bus!” Followed by turning to the camera and shouting “DAY TICKET MOTHERFUCKER!” Which I think is amazingly nonsensical and funny. He then has some good lines about the pronunciation of words in the North and the South which I won’t break down here as I can’t write in accents.
TONY’S THIRD ROUND: I think this round is the most debatable one of the battle. For me, the first round clearly goes to Tony and the second clearly goes to Oshea, so this is the decider. This entire round consists of a long scheme involving words that start with ‘con’ (like contender, context, conspiracy and so on). Unlike some of Tony’s earlier schemes, there’s a clear reason as to why Tony has done as he explains at the end of his round. He states that “the general consensus is that you conned Sensa”, in reference to the previous title match between Oshea and Sensa that Oshea won unjustly (according to him). Then at the end of the round he states “you conned Sensa out of his title, I just conned you out of yours.” Sometimes I think that this round has far too long of a set up before the final punch and that he could’ve shortened this scheme and had some other punches in this round for it to be a more effective round. But it is a marvel of writing that he manages to use so many words starting with the same three letters and make perfect sense and even does so to explain what I’m doing with this post perfectly. “A rap battle is a contest of content, we converse and they consider what’s contained in the concepts and conveyed within context.” He also manages to fit in a scheme within a scheme on ‘condiments’, which I really enjoy even though there’s not a huge amount of relevance in using it.
I hope that I’ve inspired at least someone to go and watch this battle so that they can watch one of the best, and in my opinion the best, rap battles of all time. I’ve left out a lot of good parts in my analysis so that if you go to watch it after reading all this you won’t know every line before hand.
The last point I’ll make on this battle is that almost every time I watch it, I change my mind on who I think won. Tony got the official decision from a very established and well-respected panel of judges from a battle rap and hip-hop background. Including Thesaurus, Jordan Stephens (of Rizzle Kicks) and Genesis Elijah. And on the day of writing this, I agree with them because Tony came with 3 well polished and well executed rounds that were incredibly slick and hard hitting (for the most part). However if I watch it again tomorrow I could very well give to Oshea for his humour and effective breakdown of Tony’s style. This constant change of mind of who I think won goes to show what an amazing contest this battle is and is why I’ll keep coming back to watch every so often for a long time.