Looking at the development of beatbox battles, I find that the battling beatboxers are preparing more thoroughly for each battle. Once you know the basics of how to win beatbox battles, you will definitely stand a better chance. Regardless of the level of the battle, be it a local battle, national championships or world championships, we need to prepare as we would for an Olympic level sports event. Focus on your beats, but remember about your opponents, the crowd, jury preferences and the psychology of it all. Check out these 5 tips and start preparing for your next battle.
1. Prepare your beats
Practice your beats for months before the battle. Never freestyle all the way, be sure you have at least one routine ready for each round. You need to be perfectly sure of what you’re going to do during the elimination round and all the following rounds. That preparation may take months, but you will definitely level-up during the process.
Prepare bits and pieces of your beatbox routines, build-ups and drops, punchlines (more on that later) and audience hooks. It’s good to do that on paper, e.g. sticky notes. Look at them, analyze them, check if they work with an audience (do some demo shows months before the battle) and later combine them to form rock-solid routines. According to vice-world champ Roxorloops, it’s good to have your routines ready one or two months before the battle, so that you can close the creation process and just focus on the practice.
A well-prepared beatboxer radiates self-confidence, which is also very important (we will cover that later).
2. Know your opponents
At some higher-level battles you will probably know which beatboxers are likely to proceed to the Top 8. Get to know them — their strengths and weaknesses, what kind of beats they’re likely to use, how they work with the audience, even their physical appearance. Then work at beating them. For example, if you encounter Reeps One as your opponent, you know that he’s probably going to drop some dubstep beats with fat bass, so prepare your own to counter that. A good counter move is often the essence of how to win beatbox battles.
If you know how your opponent looks and dresses, so you might want to have a go at him with a punchline or two.
3. Prepare punchlines
A good punchline is the cherry on your beatbox cake. It can make or break a battle. A good punchline is slightly offensive to your opponent and the diss is presented in a funny and playful way. If you’re too serious or too offensive you might get your message across but come off as a cocky asshole. We don’t want that.
If your opponent makes a mistake during his/her round — be sure to point that out and use it! If they look at the tips of their shoes — you gotta be the crowd pleaser! See what they’re bad at and crush them in that category!
It’s good to have a lot of generic battle punchlines, but also prepare a couple of specific punchlines for each opponent from your Top 8 list. If a beatboxer you know is short, make sure you have a nasty joke about midgets. If he has a beard, prepare a song about gay lumberjacks. If he is more feminine in nature, make note of that. The list goes on. If you get personal about your opponent, be sure that they will return the favour! Get ready for all kinds of verbal attacks on your looks, clothes, behaviour, family — some people will say all kinds of shit during a battle just to intimidate you. Don’t let them.
For more inspiration on good punchlines take a look at a few top-level rap battles.
4. Get into battle mode
I know a lot of beatboxers that have had their beats prepared and got intimidated by a stronger-minded opponent. Getting into the right state of mind is (more often than not) the key to winning. Ask yourself — what is a strong beatboxer? The likely answers:
- knows his/her beats
- is never intimidated by opponents
- radiates demonic confidence
- has that in-your-face attitude
- audience loves him/her
Now ask yourself how to work on these characteristics in yourself. Practice in front of a mirror, record yourself, speak to your friends, practice on the street. You definitely need to practice this in real life as well as on stage. This is one of my favourite subjects and I will write a separate post about this soon.
5. Win the audience
Audience is king. Of course the jury makes the final decision, but they always take the crowd reactions into account. If you get a lot of applause, you know you’re on your way to the top.
Beatbox covers are a good way to grab the audience’s attention. People often like what they already know, so be sure to prepare a few not-that-obvious covers to please the crowd.
A good joke or punchline can definitely score you some points with the audience. If the crowd loves you, so does the jury.
The list is far from complete. I will prepare a larger set of materials on this subject, and constantly ask about winning battles in my inteviews. What are your ideas for becoming a champ? If you know any good tips and tricks on how to win beatbox battles, please share them in the comments below.