Hip-Hop was formed via the creative offerings of Caribbean and Latino people who joined their ideas and respective influences to create what is now a global phenomenon. Red Bull has been at the forefront of highlighting the widely-popular Spanish Freestyle world by way of its annual Red Bull Batalla competition and ahead of a Thursday night (April 12) event airing live on Twitch, Hip-Hop Wired spoke briefly with some of the competitors aiming to win it all.
Now in its 15th year, Red Bull Batalla has showcased some of the finest Spanish Freestyle battle rappers in the world. Unbeknownst to us prior to taking the interview, it was astounding to know how many Spanish-speaking Hip-Hop stars exist and how many are on the cusp of stardom due to their formidable freestyle and rapping abilities.
Hip-Hop Wired had the honor of speaking at length inside the New York offices of Red Bull HQ with 2-time Batalla US champion, Puerto Rico’s Yartzi, who we fast learned is considered a legend in the sport. Also joining us was Adonys, an upcoming competitor in the US Qualifiers event who hails from New York by way of the Dominican Republic. El Dilemma, who has been crowned the “New York King of Spanish freestyle” rap, was also in attendance, along with upcoming competitors JAYCO, a Yonkers rapper who also hails from the Dominican Republican, and Austin, Texas’s Jordi.
With Yartzi winning the US championships in 2020, he was invited to participate in the US finals in September to determine who will represent the nation in the world finals. El Dilemma, a finalist in last year’s Red Bull Batalla, will also appear in the US finals, and Jordi, who ranked third in 2020, was grandfathered in as well.
We turned our attention first to relative newcomers Adonys and JAYCO, both of whom displayed almost surprising humility despite the ferocity with which they attack the microphone.
“I’m a competitor, so right off the bat, I’m trying to look up at these guys [as opponents] in a very strategic way, basically try to master their styles and come with counterattacks with skills that they have,” Adonys began. “I know some of these guys are punchline guys so it’s different ways to go against what they have. But in the end, some of these men are friends of mine and I’m trying to get where they are as well.
JAYCO was no less confident in his ability, but also in a way that deferred to the accomplishments of the finalists that sat before them.
“I’m very excited about taking this battle on because I look at freestyle like boxing, like a sport. I like to try and prove my ability against the best in the world, and when I’m facing a strong freestyle rapper like these guys, I want to win but I also enjoy it for the sport,” Jayco added.
Jordi, who was not in attendance at Red Bull HQ, called in from Texas and, like everyone who spoke this day, expressed confidence in his ability and also gave a strong salute to last year’s US winner in Yartzi, doing so in Spanish.
“I used to be so nervous before battles but now, I’ve been in this program for so long that I’m now entering the battles free of stress. I know my abilities, so it’s just up to me to go out there and do my best and I’ve been inspired by El Dilemma and Yartzi, and I’ve heard about the new guys so I’m ready,” Jordi said.
We turned to Yartzi next and asked about the gift of being a Spanish-speaking person born in the states and how he’s always representing his people via the artform of Spanish freestyle along with how he bridges the gap of representing s culture that was wholly born here in the United States.
“I’m always representing my culture because Puerto Ricans, we’re a race of people that have strong roots with the Tainos and African people, and as a Puerto Rican, we were right there involved in Hip-Hop culture. But more than my race and culture, I’m upholding the legacy of immigrant culture as well, the Spanish-speaking people who are here in the United States so it’s bigger than just music,” Yartzi said.
El Dilemma, speaking with us through an interpreter, was just as clear in his mission. We asked him how he is continuing to reinvent his style and stay ready for battle.
“There really isn’t a game plan. It’s like sports, you can have all the game plans you want, but you have to be ready to improvise. I treat these battles like a boxing match. You want to get a hit in, but you don’t want to get hit. I just try to get in there and dodge all the blows that I can, and come out and try my best to defeat my opponent” El Dilemma said.
Tonight, as we mentioned previously, the Red Bull Batalla US Qualifiers event will take place on Red Bull’s Twitch channel at 4 PM PST/7 PM EST, and will be hosted by Argentinian media star Mufasa. The judges for the event are past Battalla competitors Tito Yang, Kim MC, and Cuba’s El B. Click here to be taken to the Twitch channel
In all, 36 Spanish Freestyle competitors will square off via one-on-one competition to see who will go on to the US Finals in September. Check out the competitors’ list below. Click here for more info on Red Bull Batalla and what they’ve got coming up for the rest of the year.
RED BULL BATALLA US QUALIFIER BATTLES
Thursday, 8/12 – 4pm PT / 7pm PT
Tune in live via Twitch – twitch.com/redbullbatalla
Commentary: Frank “el medico” Rodriguez and Letty
Hosts: Serko, Jenn Morel and DJ Del’Alma
Find a complete list of the U.S. competitors below:
1. Adonys: New York, NY IG: @adonys_ys
2. Animal: Miami, FL IG: @animalFL
3. Boss: Los Angeles, CA IG: @bossmtc
4. Chester: San Diego, CA IG: @clapchester
5. Cuban: McAllen, TX IG: @cuban.mc
6. Eckonn: Orlando, FL IG: @eckonn
7. El Poeta: Phoenix, AZ IG: @pots.poeta
8. Faby: Lewisville, TX IG: @faby.mg01
9. Freites: Orlando, FL IG: @freites_hc
10. G.I.O.: Houston, TX IG: @gio.vsc
11. Heavy Bars: Miami, FL IG: @heavybarsoficial
12. J Luna: Las Cruces, NM IG: IG: @jluna.nm
13. Jahn Alenó: Ponce, PR IG: @jahnaleno
14. JAYCO: Yonkers, NY IG: @yosoyjco_official
15. Kcique: Miami, FL IG: @kcique24
16. Klaze: Miami, FL IG: @klaze_sr
17. Levi Kun: Miami, FL IG: @levikunnn_
18. LinkOne: Puerto Rico IG: @link_one
19. Luis Alenó: Ponce, PR IG: @luisaleno
20. Magimbri: San Antonio, TX IG: @juanpablort27
21. Maluque: Oxnard, CA IG: @lemaluque
22. MAU: West New York, NY IG: @Mau_d1az
23. McBetho: Irving, TX IG: @mcbethomx
24. Nico B: Miami, FL IG: @nicob.bka
25. OG Frases: Miami, FL IG: @ogfrases
26. OneR: Tamarac, FL IG: @onerodriguez
27. Pazy: Miami, FL IG: @pazyy
28. Pharaon: Las Vegas, NV IG: @pharaon_lv
29. Pich1to: Miami, FL IG: @pich1to
30. PIWIE: Puerto Rico IG: @diegopiwinskii
31. Reverse: Orlando, FL IG: @reverse_mc7
32. RuRa: Las Vegas IG: @rura.mc
33. Snow: Denver, CO IG: @snowqlq_
34. Stu: Los Angeles, CA IG: @stu.mentendes
35. Zazo Wan: Dallas, TX IG: @kush.hashman
36. Zeu: North Bergen, NJ IG: @eduzeu
Photo: Red Bull