What happens when you bring 16 of the best Spanish-language freestyle rappers in the world under one roof? You get a night full of rhymes, passion, and glory. That’s exactly what we experienced when Red Bull Batalla arrived in Mexico City for its 2022 World Final on Dec. 10 at the Palacio de los Deportes.
Despite originally launching in 2005, the tournament continues to feel more timely than ever with el movimiento becoming more popular around the world. After an online submission process earlier this year, a panel of judges combed through to find the best MCs in each Spanish-speaking country. Those selected freestylers then advanced to regional qualifiers and national final events held in the U.S., Latin America, and Spain. The culmination of the international search led us to this moment in Mexico City.
After attending the U.S. National Final in Miami, we realized how intense the passion for freestyle rap could be. However, we quickly learned in Mexico that what we experienced in Miami was only a taste of a much fuller experience. When we arrived at the Palacio, we found a much larger venue, a bigger stage, harder cyphers, and thousands of pumped-up fans ready to get in on all the action. Here’s what Remezcla saw at the Red Bull Batalla Mexico World Final.
Aczino Makes Red Bull Batalla History
There’s no better feeling than watching history be made firsthand. For rapper Aczino, born Mauricio Hernández González, the stakes were already high. At last year’s World Final in Chile, Aczino became the first MC in the competition’s history to win the World Final twice. He earned his first international crown during the 2017 edition of the tournament.
When we spoke to Aczino ahead of the Batalla, the defending champ seemed calm yet focused on the task at hand. “I have to worry more about the battle against myself,” he says. “[It’s about] having a good day and learning how to steer situations [and] knowing where I stand in the Batalla.” The rapper was aware that his win this year could be record-breaking. “It would be the fruits of a lot of effort this year,” he shares. “It would be like a Christmas gift in advance.”
After ripping through the competition across the bracket, Aczino and Gazir became the final two MCs standing. As the two made their way to the stage to begin the cypher, we watched as the crowds around us in the arena’s seated sections stood to their feet, where they would remain for the rest of the night. The MCs traded bars over three rounds while fans roared over the cyphers.
At the end of the night, Aczino was crowned the 2022 Red Bull Batalla World Champion, becoming the first competitor in the history of the competition to win three times. The crowd went wild as they began to chant, “Tricampeón, tricampeón,” from that moment all the way to the parking lot.
Could Aczino make history again by extending his winning streak next year? It’s totally possible as his win allows him to compete again when the World Final is held in Colombia in 2023. Next year, he will be reunited with Gazir and Mecha as their rankings also qualify them for automatic entry into the next international final.
The Lineup Was as Diverse as Ever
Representing Mexico, the reigning champion Aczino returned to the competition after winning the 2021 World Final. Also returning for another shot at the champion title were rappers Skone and Gazir, both hailing from Spain, who placed second and third in last year’s international final, respectively.
OneR, the 19 year-old Venezuelan MC who surprised fans when he won the Los Angeles qualifier as an alternate and later claimed victory at the USA National Final in Miami, was unable to participate due to “an external issue,” according to a press release from the event’s organizers. Mexican freestyler Rapder, who was crowned world champion in 2020 and placed fourth last year, was brought in to compete in lieu of OneR’s absence.
Rounding out the lineup were Yoiker (Mexico), Blon (Spain), Carpediem (Colombia), Índico (Panama), Choque (Perú), Mecha (Argentina), Jokker (Chile), Spektro (Uruguay), Teorema (Chile), Wolf (Argentina), Skiper (Mexico), and Valles-T (Colombia).
On hosting duties were Colombian freestyler Arci and rapper Serko Fu with Peruvian DJ Dmandado on the turntables providing the beats for the night. Among the judges was Blazzt from Chile, who also lent his expertise on the panel last year. Marithea, the Colombian MC who made history as the competition’s first woman and Afro-Colombian to win a Batalla regional, also joined the judging roster. “I’m looking for someone who has control over the situation. That’s what makes the difference between who wins and doesn’t,” she tells Remezcla ahead of the competition. “If you don’t have confidence, you can’t be a champion.” Joining them were Piezas (Spain), Klan (Argentina), and Stick (Perú).
Some Competitors Pulled Off Stunts — Two Even Undressed
If there’s something we can all agree on, there’s never a dull moment at a Red Bull Batalla. One of the most surprising stunts was pulled off early in the night. When Rapder went up against Choque, he found an opportunity to mock the rapper for jumping around the stage during the battle. For his rebuttal, Choque literally jumped off the stage, sending audiences into a combination of shock and delight. Despite the terrifying height he leapt from, Choque quickly ran back up to the stage to continue the cypher.
Battling for third place were rappers Mecha and Rapder, and the emotions were on a high. During the second round, Mecha used his freestyle to make a comment about Rapder’s weight. In an unexpected but affirming move, Rapder took off his shirt, and Mecha shortly followed for a very confusing yet intriguing cypher. Maybe there’s something to be said about going skins, as their freestyling felt more furious without their shirts on. Despite Rapder’s stunt, Mecha proved victorious and placed third.
The Audience Couldn’t Contain Themselves
There was an unbelievable energy pulsing through the arena that evening, and understandably so. Tickets for the Batalla’s World Final sold out in less than 24 hours after going on sale. According to a press release, over 17,000 people were in attendance. And fans who couldn’t make it out to Mexico City were able to stream it live on the Red Bull Batalla channel on ViX within the U.S. and Red Bull’s YouTube channel for those elsewhere. Whether it was the buzzy comments section on the livestream or the relentless cheering from the spectators on the scene, this year’s final gave us a lot to talk about.
The venue was packed from the general admission floor to the top of the nosebleed section. Regardless of the view, the audience cheered from the first verse to the last. We even caught groups of people singing “Cielito Lindo” together at different times throughout the night. However, the audience couldn’t have predicted what tricks each MCs had up their sleeves.