Brief background: Epic Rap Battles of History (henceforth referred to as ERB) is a Youtube series that pits two (or more) semi-historical persons or groups against one another in, as the title implies, rap battles to see who is the best. More accurately, it’s a chance for the creators to have fun and create diss tracks between various persons or groups from history, fictional or factual, and incorporate actual facts about these entities in the process. It’s generally super nerdy, and for the most part I love the idea of this thing. That said, it’s become incredibly popular, and with the combination of the popularity, the money that presumably goes with it, and the pressure to get things going faster to appease the audience, ERB has had something of a variable quality over the years. I’m not really interested in shitting on free entertainment, of course, but I do think it would be interesting to review how well each battle rap compares to its brethren on a season-by-season basis to see what the best (and worst) executed battle raps of each season are.
To clarify: this is essentially going to be a three or four week long series ranking the battle raps from ERB on a season-by-season basis. Each season will be treated as its own unique entity, as comparing battle raps from different seasons doesn’t really work as well as you’d think, because somewhere around the second season, ERB ended up expanding their funding a bit and it’s hard to really compare the slick videos of later seasons with the fun-but-less-technically-apt raps from earlier seasons. Two videos per day will be posted, and each season will be ranked from worst to best, meaning that, yes, the worst battle raps will be posted early in the posting cycle, while the best will be posted later in the cycle. So tomorrow’s post will be the two worst videos from the season, but they’re still worth watching, even if they’re… not great.
Yes, I did say “tomorrow’s.” Today will be spent highlighting the main players in the ERB process for those coming in new.
Nice Peter: One of the two brains behind the ERB machine, Nice Peter, AKA Peter Shukoff, is a skinny dude who raps reasonably well and affects a lot of weird voices for our amusement, with variable results. He’s the more musically talented person of the team, comparatively. Since it’s nearly Christmas, here’s an example of his solo work (though EPICLloyd guest stars) with “Santa is a Gangsta”:
EPICLloyd: The other brain behind ERB, EPICLloyd, AKA Lloyd Ahlquist, is probably the more technically talented rapper of the two, and can often hang better with the various guest stars that show up, though his own raps tend to get a little wordy at times. Here’s one of his better solo works, “Scars”:
Zach Sherwin: One of most frequent guest rappers to show up on ERB, Zach is an incredibly talented rapper who has a lot of really great ideas that… often get tripped up by their own nerdiness. When it comes to technical skills he’s easily one of the best talents ERB has, but his own work is harder to recommend, because it’s too nerdy sometimes. Still, he’s produced what is quite possibly the best single track of anyone associated with ERB who isn’t famous, in “F-Bombs”:
I will never not refer to that kid as Zack Fuckron, for reference.
George Watsky: Another frequent guest of ERB, Watsky is notable for for being another amazing talent to join up with the group, though he seems to have something of a career of his own, including tours and promotional stunts that almost get him killed, so there’s that. I’m kind of hit-or-miss on his solo work, but “Never Let it Die” is pretty solid, so here you go:
They’ve also hosted plenty of Youtube celebrities, including Ray William Johnson (who’s a far better rapper than you’d think) and Jenna Marbles (who’s exactly as good a rapper as you’d think), and have even had legit celebrities show up, like Key and Peele, Weird Al and Snoop Dogg, so clearly they’ve done pretty well for themselves. That’s certainly a good thing, because really, they deserve it; their work is mostly hilarious and certainly a lot better than most of us would do in the same situation.
That said, come back tomorrow when we start off our rankings with the two worst battles from Season One.