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Red Bull Batalla 2023: Reverse crowned as new USA champion
Reverse and Oner will go on to represent the USA in the Red Bull Batalla World Final in Bogota, Colombia on December 2, 2023.
Every year, the best MCs in the nation gather to come head-to-head for a single shot at representing the United States on the largest, most important stage for Spanish-language freestyle competitions—separating the good from the great. But this year isn’t just any year—the winner of the 2023 Red Bull Batalla USA National Final resulting in the first year that two MCs will represent the USA on the international stage—with Oner earning his spot at the 2022 USA National Final! Tonight, Reverse earned a spot at his side. In third place, earning a sure spot in 2024’s National Final is Nico B, who shone victorious against OG Frases in Semifinals.
Minutes after winning, Reverse says: “I am very happy with what is happening with freestyle in the United States… In Colombia, I am going to kill myself to die on the podium because of these people,” between heavy recovery pants saying “And if next year I dedicate myself to music, I will still be involved and let them know that I love this culture and it gave me everything. I love them very much."
Throughout the night, all 16 contestants proved worthy of their place on the country’s ultimate stage, located at the South Side Ballroom of Gilley’s Dallas. The 2021 USA National Champion from Cuba, Reverse, and Mexican juggernaut, Mc Betho, would make the ears of longtime followers perk up, while newcomers like Venezuelan spitter, VersoMC, and Colombian first-time qualifier, JD, ignited new hope and interest in the freestyle community’s future. New and old faces came head to head as event host Rasco White Leon led them through several phases in round of 16, Quarterfinals, Semifinals, and, ultimately, the grand finale with props, words, and passion to direct their freestyles, with ample opportunity to unleash their chest’s best punchlines and rhymes in dozens of passionate rounds of free.
From top to bottom, the night was a celebration—of freestyling, music, camaraderie and how far Red Bull Batalla has come this year. Heightened expectations and a coveted title being at stake led to fierce and entertaining competition from the MCs who hailed from all over the country, and in some cases, the world. But, mostly, they advanced from Regional qualifiers in three key cities. For the last five months, we’ve gathered the top MCs in the country to compete for the National championship. A record number of three qualifier events (in the second year of Regionals)—with Houston joining Miami and Los Angeles—brought in new blood and fire from three of the country’s largest cities.
But ultimately, tonight, we chose the greats. Reverse made one of his perhaps most impressionable punchline at the end, spitting what roughly translates to “I'll kill you and it's simple, I'd go back to Cuba although the reality is sad and if I come back it's to let loose for a free minute.” He beat the likes of White Caracas and Zazo Wan, ultimately knocking Zazo Wan off the board in the grand final round with confident delivery of both naturally flowing and stinging freestyles.
Other notables of the night to watch in years to come included White Caracas and runner-up Zazo Wan with lines that roughly translate to “He said he wants to become a leader, no wonder he follows me, he wants to be like me" and "The fortune I have behind me is the cry of all" respectively. It was punchlines, then carried by the chants and support of the audience, that made it rather easy for the judges to make cuts.
The not-at-all enviable task of dwindling down the roster of dynamic freestylers was the responsibility of a diverse group of five judges who hailed from across the globe, including NYC-based freestyle connoisseur Moises, Red Bull Batalla OG who won the Mexico National Final in 2021, Skiper, Spanish freestyler Chester, Venezuela MC and Latin Grammy-nominated artist Akapellah, and last but not least, Texas freestyle mainstay Barba.
Overall, the crowd carried the evening and DJ Lobo carried each round with his eclectic batch of beats. Ultimately there were over five tiebreakers needed to minimize the list of competitors.
Now, Reverse and Oner will take on a greater beast: the challenge of showing the world that the USA is becoming a powerhouse of freestyle by punch lining their way to the top at the World Final in Colombia come December. There, they will meet their matches in MCs from all participating Red Bull Batalla countries from Mexico to Spain and beyond. May the best MC win.