With millions of viewers across the globe, the world of freestyle rap will take center stage this weekend for the biggest Spanish-language global competition, the International Finals for Red Bull Batalla. Marking a celebratory moment for the coveted event, the epic finale being held on December 11 will mark its astonishing 15th year and its return to the historic Quinta Vergara open-air amphitheater in Viña De Mar, Chile.
To compose the final roster of competitors, the U.S. hosted the National Finals this past September to crown finalist Reserve, who would go on to join the respective champions from over 10 countries including the U.S., México, Spain, and Colombia in the next and final stage of the battle. The final lineup of 16 inimitable freestyling talents from across the globe will be illuminated on the Red Bull stage as they unleash fire-fueled deliveries and heavy flows to compete for the opportunity to be crowned the 2021 Red Bull Batalla World Champion.
This year’s competitors list will see a mix of returning Batalla MC veterans and a class of fresh, new competitors seeking to claim a stake in the freestyle world by taking the crown to a new home. Included in the lineup are reigning 2020 Red Bull Batalla International Champion Rapder, returning MCs like Aczino and Skone from Mexico, and newcomers to watch like Reverse (who decrowned two time-champion Yartzi for the U.S. title), and Marithea–notably the first woman and Afro-Colombian to win a Red Bull Regional and also the only female competitor in the International final–representing Colombia.
Through a rigorous process of elimination via skilled zephyrs with their regions’ best, this weekend’s event is undoubtedly expected to bring a viewing experience like no other. The prevailing best will face-off in head-to-head battles that will take place in front of a special guest panel of judges including eminent freestylers Cacha, Invert, Fox, Blazzt, and Vallest. They will critique the performers’ overall performance, lyrical flow, and delivery style to determine who will claim the international crown as this year’s best MC.
Adding to the built anticipation of this year’s event, Batalla will also be returning to its intended live format after a year of pandemic-related restrictions and functioning sans audiences for its most recent qualifying events throughout 2020. Despite the lack of live attendance, the event still remained one of the most-watched events bringing in a near 1.5 million viewers tuning in to watch the World Finals online. The excitement of feeding off of the energy of a live audience runs high for those MCs returning after moving completely digital this past year.
Returning for his second year, Exodus Lirical representing the Dominican Republic shared with Remezcla: “I am anxious to experiment with the energy of a live audience, but I want the crowd there. Last year, we had to depend on our own energy and ability, no one could count on the support of an audience. But a crowd can serve as a trampoline or it can be a cliff—so everything will still depend on the charisma and control that the competitors bring to the stage. This time, we’re going to feel the heat, we’re going to feel the nerves. But now, we’re also going to feel the primary sentiment of freestyle, the encouragement.”
Meeting at the intersection of culture collision, Red Bull Batalla is a remarkable display of freestyle subcultures and subgenres making a global impact. The final 16 competitors are proven front-runners in the experimentation of continuously moving freestyle into new heights. With the base of lyrical rap stemming from hip-hop culture, the freestyle evolution has now developed into the musical worlds of the likes of Dembow, Latin Trap, and even Corridos.
Anything goes on the final stage, and what is to be expected is creative storytelling at its finest. Down to the wire zephyrs, lyrical battles, and enumerable possibilities of new rap styles to emerge on the spot. “What I love about battling is that you aren’t bound to any kind of guidelines – you can really just rap however you want to, without sticking to a theme or format,” the 2020 reigning champion, Rapder, shares.
This year’s full lineup of international finalists include: Hammer (Uruguay), Skiper (México), Aczino (México), Rapder (México), Skone (México), RC (México), Gazir (Spain), P8 (Costa Rica), Basek (Chile), Marithea (Colombia), Reverse (USA), Stick (Perú), Éxodo Lirical (República Dominicana), Klan (Argentina), Alfredozki (Ecuador), and Jair Wong (Peru).
For those in Chile seeking a chance to attend the Batalla International Finals in Viña De Mar, limited tickets are still available for purchase. For those not able to attend the live event, Red Bull Batalla’s International Final events will be available for streaming this year via Red Bull TV and YouTube.