All you need to know about the Red Bull Batalla de los Gallos world final
© Jacobo Medrano/Red Bull Content Pool
Here's the lowdown on the world’s biggest freestyle rap competition.
When it comes to freestyling, Red Bull Batalla de los Gallos has consistently set the bar(s) sky-high. Kicking off in 2005, the competition – literally meaning ‘Battles of the Roosters’ – pits the world’s hottest Spanish-speaking MCs against each other to exchange improvised rhymes in front of thousands of fans.
This year, the event returns, filmed in a virtual arena at a TV set in the Dominican Republic, with 2019 international champion Bnet looking to retain his crown against 15 quick-witted, fast-spitting rappers on Saturday, December 12.
We’ve pulled together everything you need to know before the big day – so ponte las pilas and let’s get to it!
17,000 MCs entered the competition
This year’s edition saw more than double the amount of people enter for a chance to join the battle, with nearly 20,000 rhyme-slingers submitting entries via the official app. The best performances from each of the eleven countries participating – Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Mexico, Peru, Spain, USA, Uruguay – were invited to a series of National Finals for one-on-one battles with their local rivals.
The winner of each heat is now fighting for the top spot in the international final, along with two winners who missed last year’s tournament, plus the winner and runners-up from 2019.
Millions of viewers have already tuned in for the tour
The 11 National Final events that took place between October and November may have had a grand total of zero in-person attendees, but many, many fans have tuned in along the way. So far, the Batalla channels have racked-up 411 million viewers, equalling a mic-drop-worthy watch time of 3,972 years.
If you went that far into the past, you’d be looking at the emergence of the earliest alphabetic writing in 1800 BC, something all the MCs will be geniuses with when it comes to scribing bars.
Learn Spanish the Batalla Way
It’s the only international rap competition taking place in 2020
This year has hit the battle rap game hard, with hyped-up entourages and huge crowds not making it easy to hold events. It’s a blessing, then, that the 2020 edition of Red Bull Batalla de Los Gallos is still on and means it’s all the more necessary to put it in your calendars in permanent marker.
Like the National Finals, the International Final relies on a ‘bubble’ – similar to the NBA one at Walt Disney World – where the players isolate pre-match. They enter 10 days before the event (after being tested) and eat, practice, sleep and practice some more together in the hotel.
It’s taking place in the Dominican Republic for the first time
This year’s event is taking place at Pinewood Studios in the Dominican Republic beach town of Juan Dolio. The host nation’s competitor, Éxodo Lirical, is the youngest in the whole competition at only 18 years old. He beat Leamback in a close final, receiving the coveted medal from 2019 winner Shield Master.
“In 2018, I was very close and in 2019 I tried and couldn't get in. It’s a dream come true,” he said after the final. “I didn't win alone, we all won.”
Three international final winners are looking to do the double
The organisers had to import paint for the green screen when the country ran out
Everything this year is entirely virtual, with the performers battling it out in front of a giant green screen, converted into a world-first digital setting that viewers at home will be able to see. It’s sure to present a new challenge for the contestants, since they’ll be performing to the cameras rather than the tens of thousands of fans who usually attend.
Nothing has been downscaled, though. The green screen used is so expansive that producers hit a wall with sourcing the necessary amount of green paint, meaning buckets had to be flown in from Connecticut, USA, 1,500 miles away.
When it comes to the judges, improvisation is king
Red Bull Batalla de Los Gallos is all about giving young MCs a world stage to cut their teeth and polish their silver tongues. While general flow and delivery is key, the main focus is on improvisation, a key feature of Spanish hip-hop. It’s all about thinking on your feet and hitting the ground running.
In order to make everything truly off-the-cuff, every round has a challenge where the contestants must use words, objects and scenarios cooked-up by the judges. There’s no place to hide here – you’ve got to be razor sharp.
You can stream the 2020 World Final live on Red Bull TV
The exclusive pre-show on Red Bull TV is a must-watch, exploding into action at 19:00 UTC / 11:00 PST / 14:00 EST / 20:00 CET. Here, you’ll catch the bracket draw, where the MCs choose the order they’ll compete in for the opening round, plus pre-event analysis and the announcement of the best rhyme from last year’s international final.
From 19:30 UTC / 11:30 PST / 14:30 EST / 20:30 CET, the tournament will get underway live on Red Bull TV, which you’ll be able to lock-in to here. We’ll see you there for the big night, revealing who in Spanish hip-hop right now really rules the roost.