Why Cliquishness is Harming UK Battle Rap

By David “The Mast” Masters

Society, by its very nature, is about group behaviour. The idea that we all have to work together for the better of everyone is as old as societies themselves.  We all have our own sub-groups in which we move, and associate ourselves with people we like or need to know.

I’ve never been one for bias, in any situation. So, though I love the people who I would consider my own, I will never give preferential treatment where it counts. It isn’t productive, really. How good someone is at any given task is not determined by how much you like them, and this is an idea that people seriously need to understand in the British battle rapping community.

I constantly see people retweeting their friends battles, which is fine. Rarely will you see someone take an unfavourable stance on their friends’ battles, though. There is more Twitter beef or interaction than there are actual battles nowadays, and people let this cloud their vision of how good or bad someone can be. Callumboom’s legendarily dreadful performance against Impact was met with almost universal scorn on the Don’t Flop Facebook,  but he had an army of never-before-seen friends cheering him on and defending him. It’s no good for the community. We need more genuine fans of the craft than the people performing the craft.

There’s a lot of people in the Don’t Flop scene who have each other’s backs to the point of grand bias, and it’s never anything short of cringeworthy seeing them comment on battles (If you think this is about you, you’re guilty of something whether I meant you or not).  As for me? I wouldn’t give two shakes of a duck’s tail. I don’t care if my own flesh and blood steps in the ring, personally. If you’re not good, you’re not good. Quality control is something Don’t Flop seem to be cracking down on, and it’s about time, but we’re going to get nowhere if preferential treatment remains as ripe as it does.

You run the risk of alienating those wanting to join by making it seem like a club of mates. It’s not and it can’t afford to be. There needs to be a line drawn. Some people do not care to join in on all of the non-battle insults and banter, and that needs to be respected.

Another kind of bias is way more serious, and cliquey on a national scale.

Don’t Flop would not exist were it not for Americans and nor would hip hop. I am genuinely worried by the overwhelming amount of anti-Americanism that comes from the fans and the MCs.  “Let’s show them Yanks a thing or two.” The crowd for Illmaculate vs. Tony D was so disgustingly biased that you could almost taste it in the air. This is a grand shame, because the battle was phenomenal. It was as though people had already decided to cheer one man more because he came out of a vagina in this country. That needs to stop, fast. If it doesn’t, the league runs the risk of not attracting certain big American battlers.

Whether it’s nationalistic bias or one based on friendship, you seriously need to knock it off and pay attention to the bars. I don’t care how much you like someone. JUDGE FAIRLY.

I support quality. I don’t look at passports.

If you make great music, I’ll buy it. If you’re a good battler, I’ll support you. What I will not do is treat you like you’re fam if you’re not. I don’t particularly care if you’re a Londoner or not. Be good.

This league’s MCs, and indeed the country’s, are learning to rely on location bias. “YES! HE’S FROM WHERE I AM!” Who cares?

DNA vs. Eurgh was an incredible battle on BOTH counts. It was remarkably close. However, try finding a comment that doesn’t involve saying, “UK REPRESENT! DFAFD.!” and I will concede. Who cares where anyone’s from? It’s not war, people.

Talent should always prevail, not nepotism.

Things need to change or I sincerely fear for the future of this country’s battle scene.


  1. Loaded Lux said:

    this lad has to a) get out more b) stop treating battle rap as a serious hobby

  2. Alex said:

    I don’t mind so much people commenting “UK represent” on an Eurgh battle because I think they feel that he has a talent that they are all aware of, but that not every one around the world is. As long as they are not judging the battle based on nationality, I don’t have a problem.

    The rest of the article, though, is spot on. I’m writing an article about the importance of crowds for this very blog, and I will have to reference this, because at one point in my article, I make almost the exact same argument. DF has, at times had very low quality control, and that is because the crowd is willing to be incredibly biased towards the hometown rappers as well as laughing at poor jokes. Excellent stuff.

  3. There are a few separate issues here that need to be taken into consideration here. The live crowds sometimes aren’t that clued into what’s going on. Half the crowd at that event may never have gone to a battle before. At the Irish events I’ve attended often 2/3rds of the people there barely know what battling is and are mostly there to drink pints and hear people insult each other. Any sort of elaborate personals go straight over their heads. They’re not very rap battle literate. Most of that room probably couldn’t hear what Illmaculate was spitting. It was also 2AM when everybody was drunk. There’s a reason why attention spans tend to be low and simpler joke punchlines tend to go over better. What Illmaculate spat sounded good on Youtube but probably didn’t work very well in that particular live setting. It’s hard to predict what the live situation is going to be like ahead of time. It’s a bit of a crap shoot. Sometimes the material you have prepared suits and sometimes it’s completely wrong for the room. How well received your bars are is often about suitability rather than quality.

    When it comes to the online audience I think they’re mostly fairly on the ball. When you’ve got 100,000 people watching these things there are going to be a lot of extremely stupid comments. The idiots are always the most vocal. I try not assume those people are representative of the larger audience.

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