Throughout the history of hip-hop, freestyling has been a formidable skill in which rappers go head to head in improvised battles, showing off their off-the-dome thinking and quick reflexes. This style of rapping tests an emcee’s ability to withstand the pressure of coming up with verses on the spot while in front of an audience, and with the constraint of a ticking clock.
In Egypt traditionally ‘circles’ provide an opportunity for up and coming rappers to face off, taking turns to to diss one another within a few bars - battling for the respect of their peers, a chance to amplify their careers, and cement their names in underground glory.
Ahead of the ‘Red Bull Mat El Kalam’ rap battle tournament on 29th September, where 16 emerging emcees are set to face off against one another to find Egypt’s sharpest freestyle rapper, we sat with host of the tournament Abyusif and judges and members of ‘El Mexic’ crew Abo El Anwar and Ahmed Santa to talk about the history of the artform, their experience with rap battles, and their advice for up-and-coming freestyle rappers who want to improve their skills.
Tickets for Mat El Kalam are available here.
Watch the full video below: