Arcángel just added one more thing to his resume. On Saturday (Dec. 2), the rapper lent his talents as a judge for the Red Bull Batalla World Final in Bogotá, Colombia. The event, billed as the world’s largest Spanish-language freestyle rap competition, touched down in the city’s Movistar Arena for an action-packed evening of verbal warfare.
At the post-competition press conference, Arcángel, who recalled growing up freestyling, said he felt at ease being amongst the judging panel. “I didn’t dedicate myself to freestyle because I like to compose a lot. It’s not my strong suit,” he said. “I’ve had a lot of lyrical battles throughout my career, and I think I’ve won them all. That’s why I feel very comfortable in this area.”
The rap tournament brought together 16 MCs from over 10 countries and is one of the few major platforms that give emerging rappers a global spotlight to show their lyrical prowess. For the first time in the competition’s 18-year history, the top two MCs, Spain’s Chuty and 17-year-old Colombian native Fat N, were joined on stage by the Latine trap titan to spar in a cypher together.
“If I don’t believe in new talent, it’s possible I could be out of a job as a producer tomorrow,” said Arcángel on the significance of fostering new talent. “I need a lot of new people to come and bring new colors to my genre so that my genre can stay alive. I’m pro-new talent all day.”
Several past competitors, including three-time world champion Aczino, U.S. champion Oner, and Mexican national champion Yoiker, have been setting their sights beyond freestyling and entering the music industry full throttle.
When asked about the freestylers crossing over into music, Arcángel’s tone was optimistic. “People who can do this can do anything. When you’ve got to rap under pressure, it’s not the same when you’re in the studio to compose and you’ve got all the time to utilize your imagination,” he said. “If you dominate this skill, the other [part] has a lot to do with your personality and charisma. I know a lot of rappers who are very good inside la cabina. But when they get out, their personality says nothing.”
He continued, “There has to be something magical in your personality for you to become a global artist … I think that all of these gentlemen are more than prepared to do it. If they do it with this level of pressure, which is a lot, to work with a team behind you, it’ll be really easy for them.”
The newly-crowned world champion, Chuty, will have the opportunity to defend his title next year when the competition brings the international final to his home country of Spain. He will be joined by runner-ups Fat N and Argentina’s Mecha.
Check out the Red Bull Batalla World Final press conference below.