Let me be frank
Don’t start beef with The Frank
Who hangs with B. Franks
Giving ladies beef franks
Since it’s debut in 2010, Epic Rap Battles has risen to the top of the YouTube charts as one of the most popular video series of all time. The series, as its name suggests, pits at least two historical figures together in a battle of wits and rhymes to see who comes out on top. I was skeptical of it at first, but to paraphrase Snoop Dogg during a behind the scenes shoot of a Season 2 episode: “I was like yo, these white boys can flow“
The white boys in reference here are Peter “NicePeter” Shukoff, a YouTube comedian and “Epic”Lloyd Alquhist, a comedian and improv artist (probably not the correct title). The two had been long time friends and decided, in short, to strike up the project together. After a couple of failed writing attempts, they released the first video: Bill O’Reilly vs John Lennon on September 26, 2010 (which is arguably harder to watch compared to the lyrical and video quality from the second episode onward). Since then they’ve put out 5 seasons and a bonus episode and are on a temporary hiatus.
So in celebration of all their hard work, we’re going to count down their Top 12 battles of all-time! But first…
Bruce Banner vs Bruce Jenner
I wanted to highlight this one for a reason. Season 5 caught a lot of hate from some fans, they claimed it was too “SJW” (Social Justice Warrior).
Let me say a few things about this: first, disgruntled white male, the world isn’t about you and you only, there will be things that don’t have anything to do with you, when they occur you should keep your mouth shut because no one cares. Number 2, rap started as a forum for Social Justice issues, particularly surrounding the Black Community, the main word here in this series is RAP. So. Yeah. Shut up.
Third, this battle wasn’t bad, at all, it was actually pretty damn good. Sure, Caitlin Jenner got an overabundance of lines at the end, but all sides got some quality quips in. I promise each entry won’t be this long, I just had to have a mini vent.
Ash Ketchum vs. Charles Darwin – “TB and Scarlet Fever, gotta catch em all!”
Lewis and Clark vs Bill and Ted -“do you hear that Merriweather? I think they wanna brawl? I’ll take Neo, I’ll take the one that no one knows at all!”
Robocop vs. Terminator – “and I didn’t think I had any feelings left inside me, but my heart was surely broken after Terminator 3”
Winston Churchill vs Teddy Roosevelt – “so walk softly over here and give my big stick a suckle”
Bill Nye vs. Isaac Newton – for simply getting Chalie 2Na in a battle
The Top 12
12. Skrillex vs. Mozart – Season 2
One of the hallmarks of this series, TO ME, is taking characters that I might not otherwise care about and making me look into them. I could give two shits about Skrillex prior to this battle, I still don’t, but I learned more about him because I had to look into some of the lines he spits as well as the ones Mozart says about him.
“Oh yes I’ve heard that EP and see I transcribed it here, tell me what comes after the 68th measure of diarrhea?”
11. Deadpool vs. Boba Fett – Bonus Battle
The duo dropped this one surprisingly during the 2015 Holiday season. Now, we know it was as a promo for the Deadpool movie that would drop 2016, but they didn’t make Boba Fett hold back. At all. One of my favorite things about this battle is just how well they capture Deadpool’s character. This is a minor example of something I’ll showcase later, but this team REALLY does their research before putting out these battles.
“I’ll beat your ass with one eye closed, Boba Fetty Wap”
10. Election Battles, Season 2 and 5
I’ve wrapped both of these into one battle because I couldn’t pick one over the other for a few reasons. I think overall that the 2012 election battle was better, but they did a great job of capturing the dark theme surrounding the 2016 election. Hillary isn’t really in character, but her bars are great, Lloyd does Trump to PERFECTION and it’s eerie. The 2012 version made Romney actually look interesting and is easily their most popular video to date (I haven’t researched that, I’m just assuming based on 131 million views) and featured YouTube Obama impersonator AlphaCat. Both get a nice twist ending too.
“you wanna break the glass ceiling Hillary I sense it, but the only crack you’ll find is my ass pressed against it”
9. Austin Powers vs. James Bond, Season 5
I almost left this one off the list when I was putting it together and I would’ve been PISSED if I did. As mentioned before, one of my favorite things about ERB is how well Peter and Lloyd capture characters and how well they’re able to coach guest characters to rap AND portray a character. Ben Atha portrays Daniel Craig bond and that little tidbit of information is important as you’ll see towards the end of the video. Back to Powers though, Peter was PERFECT, he makes you think you’re watching Michael Meyers make a guest appearance. Also love how the beat changes to suit each rapper.
“Maybe Q can craft some new plot lines, you made Thunderball two bloody times”
8. Stevie Wonder vs. Wonder Woman, Season 5
Let me say that I absolutely love this battle, it sways between my favorite and 3rd favorite from the current season. It’s so damn good. So good. Yes that is T-Pain, watch this and you’ll understand why the hell I love it so much. I find myself singing Pain’s opening bars at random times.
“Your ignorant questions can never cause as much pain as not knowin……hhhhow stupid you look in your airplane”
7. Albert Einstein vs. Stephen Hawking, Season 5
TO ME this is the crown jewel of Season 1, and it’s what put the series on my radar. My brother and I watched this one putting fist to mouth like “NO THE HELL THEY DIDN’T SAY THAT” at almost every bar. This is what made me subscribe to the series. Period.
“I’m the giant whose shoulders you’d have stood on if you could stand”
6. Joseph Stalin vs. Rasputin, Season 2
This battle set an important precedent and formula that the series would follow in later season finales and midseason finales. It’s a perfect example of a way to escalate a battle and hoping that it legitimately won’t end. Also, Jesus Christ Stalin’s verse. Oh my God. This is the first battle that made me legitimately go and research all those involved, I was not apt on Russian history, but researching it made the battle better AND I learned a little bit, so see.
“You think I give a f*** about my wife? My own son got locked up in prison, and I didn’t save his life”
5. Michael Jackson vs. Elvis Presley, Season 2
There are a lot of Season 2 and Season 5 episodes on here, because quite frankly I think they produced some of the best overall episodes in the series so far. MJ vs Elvis certainly qualifies, the bars, the production, the evolution of both the rappers. It’s very well done. Watch and appreciate.
“How you got the nerves to talk about the birds and bees when you met your own Wife when she was only 14, then you made one daughter, she came to me. I took her to my Neverland Ranch to heehee”
4. Ivan the Terrible vs Alexander the Great, Season 5
Where the aforementioned Russian battle set a precedent for the series, Ivan vs Alexander took that concept and put it on its head. The battle keeps escalating in a direction that the series hadn’t yet done pitting 3 rappers vs. 1 with Ivan attempting to cheat his way to a win each time.
“I fought a 7 years war, I ain’t scared of a czar, cause beating you only took me 12 bars”
3. Philosophers Battle – East vs. West – Season 4
Seeing 6 rappers might make you think it’s going to be an incoherent mess, but this battle churns out what is arguably the most researched and well written battle in the series. Not going to lie, I was largely unfamiliar with the Western Philosophers sans Socrates, but again this battle caused me to do research on their individual ideals and doings. Also, the ending is the most logical thing that would happen if you tried to team 3 philosophers together.
“See page quote”
2. Gordon Ramsay vs. Julia Child – Season 5
TO ME, it’s the best one on one battle in the series. Lyrically. Conceptually. Presentation wise, it is perfect at every turn. Also, Gordon Ramsay saw this and believed he won. I strongly disagree.
1. Stephen Spielberg vs. Alfred Hitchcock – Season 4 Finale
Oh my God. The scores being incorporated for each rapper’s verses, the Michael Bay references, The Michael Bay. Everything about this battle is how a finale should be. Well written, researched, performed, etc. Season 4 was a great season because it produced two of the best battles the series has ever seen. Bar none.