For an idea as to what we’re doing here, refer back to the introduction for more details.
Another day, another two battle raps. These two are interesting, though, because in both cases, it’s less that the raps themselves did anything to damage the product and more that other elements damaged the experience for the viewer beyond what the battle raps themselves had to offer. These two, honestly, could’ve been much higher on the list with some changes, but here we are and there it is.
Donald Trump vs. Ebenezer Scrooge:
There’s a lot to love here, actually. Zach Sherwin is on point for the vast majority of this battle rap, as always, and he does a lot to elevate this piece single-handedly. “Gross ghost proboscis” alone is fucking hilarious, I don’t even care. Further, Lloyd does a great job as JP Morgan, and DeStorm Power is a surprisingly convincing Kanye West here, so much so in fact that I completely didn’t recognize him from his Season Two turn as Mister T, so here’s hoping we see more of Mr. Power in the coming seasons. The beat, from the point where Scrooge starts rapping onward, is also a solid, well produced beat that flows nicely from person to person and really captures the essence of the concepts they’re trying to get across thematically. In fact, if it weren’t for two problems, this would almost certainly be in the top five tracks this season.
Those negatives, unfortunately, are “Peter and his weird fucking voices, again,” and “It’s A fucking Christmas Carol, again.”
Regarding the first point, Peter does two weird voices here, because God is dead, and while the second (Death) is mildly acceptable for the short amount of time it’s in play, the entire Trump sequence is just such a chore to get through. Peter’s Trump isn’t especially funny or interesting, and mostly just comes across as a giant dick (not unlike the man), and the music supporting his battle rap is boring, which does nothing to help the intro. The fact that the rest of the battle is mostly solid manages to keep the track from going any lower, barely, but first impressions make all the difference, and the first impression here should’ve been fired.
Out of a cannon, into the sun.
Regarding the second point, I completely understand the idea of wanting to take a classic like A Christmas Carol and apply the battle rap treatment to it, but… look, let me put it this way: Scrooged was a once-in-a-lifetime miracle due almost entirely to Bill Murray carrying the damn thing on his back like Atlas. A Christmas Carol isn’t the easiest thing to convert to other mediums, especially not a battle rap, and with the wrong tweaks it comes across as corny and unpleasant. While this battle manages to avoid getting too corny, the ending sequence with Sherwin lamenting his fate and promising to turn over a new leaf definitely pours on the schmaltz a bit too hard to allow this to escape the corniness unscathed. It’s a fine experiment, one supposes, but if ERB ever does a Phantom of the Opera themed battle rap they’re fucked.
Blackbeard vs. Al Capone:
… holy shit, is this actually good?
Wow, this track is actually pretty solid, on re-listen. The backing beat is fitting as hell and sounds great to boot, and while both Peter and Lloyd affect an odd voice for this battle rap, both of them work. Peter’s voice works less than Lloyd’s does, but he does sound like you’d expect a pirate to sound, and Lloyd does an excellent Italian accent for his take on Capone. Both rappers also have a decent amount of shit to talk, from Blackbeard pointing out that Capone had STD’s and shitting on his rhymes to Capone pointing that, while he has syphilis, Blackbeard was a huge dick. It’s hilarious in points, and I’m not sure why I put this so low on the…
Oh. Oh. Right, the Assassin’s Creed tie-in.
So, uh… look, I am completely fine with the idea of Peter and Lloyd making more money by associating with products, but this was the exact opposite of subtle. “I’m the emcee Assassin, slash like Edward Kenway,” couldn’t be any more transparent if it was a rap reference to Sue Storm, and then they had a dude dress like Edward Kenway and kill Blackbeard’s pirates. I… really? Get the fuck out of here with that nonsense. It’s blatant product placement, and it takes a pretty big dump in the listener’s ears when they hear it, enough that it completely took me out of the battle the first time I heard it, and mostly turned me off hearing it again while writing this entry.
You will, perhaps, be unsurprised to know that ERB tried this a second time, and it more or less ended up even worse.