YouTube’s ‘Epic Rap Battles of History’ pits famous figures against each other


In the fall of 2010, the channel nicepeter released a video based on a viewer suggestion. This video, called “Epic Rap Battles of History 1: John Lennon V Bill O’Reilly” was just that: a rap battle between deceased Beatles member John Lennon and Fox News reporter Bill O’Reilly. Currently, the video has over 26 million views, and it launched a series that has just ended its second season.

From that video onward, Peter Shukoff, also known as Nice Peter, and Lloyd Ahlquist, also known as EpicLloyd, collaborated together on over 30 other rap battles, usually starring Nice Peter, EpicLloyd or another person famous on YouTube. These cameos range from the somewhat obscure, like MC Mr. Napkins and Kimmy Gatewood, to the famous, like Snoop Lion.

No matter who played them, the rappers are all recognizable. Although the title implies that the battle is between two historical figures, the actual contestants are generally famous figures, such as Ben Franklin, Billy Mays, Santa Claus, Darth Vader and Mario. The battles themselves range from actual rivalries like Barack Obama and Mitt Romney to the seemingly ridiculous like Genghis Khan and the Easter Bunny.

After the first season, the series was moved to its own channel, ERB, where the second season started. Although the series was intended to be monthly, this trend was discontinued midway through the second season and took a hiatus, resulting in a rushed schedule. After 18 battles this season, the rap battles have ended until the beginning of the third season, which is set to premiere in the fall of 2013.

Even though 33 official “Epic Rap Battles” exist, there exist others on YouTube. Fan-made battles are abundant, which show its dedicated fan base. There also exist three more battles that involve Nice Peter: an audio recording of a rap battle before the first was released, a live battle at VidCon, and an animated version on the channel “realannoyingorange.”

The largest aspect of these rap battles, however, is not the endorsements of several other famous people on YouTube or the money that Maker Studios make from these videos. At the end of every battle, the announcer says, “Who won? Who’s next? You decide.” This implies emphasis on the viewers. Viewers can vote on the official website or on the comment section of YouTube, where they can also list suggestion on what figures would be the subject of the next rap battle.

In fact, 32 of the rap battles where based on fan suggestions, with the comment listed in the video itself. In the videos that are posted from behind the scenes, Nice Peter revealed that the first battles were done on a budget of $50, explaining that people without a large budget can create a series on YouTube that feeds on its viewer’s suggestions and enthusiasm for the rap battles.

If people are looking for a chance to affect what battles are in season 3 of the “Epic Rap Battles of History” or just wanting to see figures like Mozart and Skrillex duke it out, they can find the videos on the nicepeter YouTube channel for the first season or the ERB YouTube channel for the second season.

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