1 Days Left to Support a Troper-Created Project : Personal Space (discuss)

YMMV / Epic Rap Battles of History

See also:
  • Acceptable Targets: Adolf Hitler is the only character to have something horrible happen to him at the end of the video. Three times. Whether or not you think he raps better than Vader, he's Adolf Hitler and Vader is allowed to kill him at the end of every video because he's that evil.
  • Alternative Character Interpretation:
    • Bill Nye. Nice Guy who spends half his verse praising his opponent, or a Bitch in Sheep's Clothing who uses compliments to segue into cheap shots on Newton's personal life?
    • The Easter Bunny. A wimp who foolishly picked a fight with a killer, and spent his second verse begging for mercy? Or a Badass Pacifist who spent his second verse expressing disgust at Genghis Khan's brutality?
  • Awesome Ego: It would be easier to note those who don't show this. After all, each rapper either brags about their achievements, ridicules the opponent's achievements, or simply references events they were a part of - and you know each one of them can back up their claims.
  • Base Breaker: Chuck Norris. His fans love his portrayal in the series, but a number of other people don't really like the Memetic Badass jokes that comprise most of his rap.
  • Broken Base:
    • "Batman vs. Sherlock Holmes" is possibly the most polarizing episode yet. Half the fans like it just fine, the other half found Batman's delivery of his verses to be off-putting, on top of Batman having very few good lines.note 
    • There's also a division between the fans that want to see more matches between Adolf Hitler and Darth Vader and fans who think that the battles between the two are getting stale and the focus of the show should be placed elsewhere. The latter was acknowledged in "Hitler vs. Vader 3" in the form of an included comment.
    • Reception to "Miley Cyrus vs Joan of Arc" has proved to be pretty divided: while some people are fine with it, it has a share of detractors who think it's one of the worst battles. There are also fans who are disappointed at the match-up and wish Joan had gotten a different opponent.
    • Invoked with the mention of the Affordable Care Act in ERB News 3.5. The hosts are well aware that it will be very divisive, describing it as "Polarizing News."
    Theodore Roosevelt: Some people will hate it. (clip of Lincoln smacking Obama) Some people will love it. (clip of Lincoln smacking Romney) I! Don't! Give A! Damn!
    • Many people found "Stephen King vs. Edgar Allan Poe" either unfair because Stephen King had a longer second verse, or fair because Poe's really fast rapping compensated for it.
    • "Artists vs. Turtles" has caused a bit of division between people who love it, and people who thought that it was good but weak compared to other mid-season finales. The fact that season 4 started with a battle even bigger than it suggests that Epic Lloyd and Nice Peter could have done a better job.
    • The first two battles of Season 4's second half ("Lewis and Clark vs. Bill and Ted", "Harry Houdini vs. David Copperfield"). Some call the battles "brilliant", and others find them lackadaisical and missing the spark that made the series so great to begin with. The two sides do not get along.
  • Creepy Awesome: Walt Disney is presented as a terrifying corporate slave-driver, but he manages to assert ownership over Stan Lee, Jim Henson, and even the Epic Rap Battles themselves. He drops some impressive rhymes, too.
  • Crosses the Line Twice: This series, much like rap battles in general, uses this trope frequently.
    • Hitler is a prime example. Unlike most of the other vilified participants, he's arguably the stronger rapper in his fight. This episode of Teens React focusing on ERB shows a girl visibly disgusted by his "shower" line. In fact, he's had a line like this in every battle he's had, offering Vader use of his shower, a ride on his train, and asking him to pop into his oven, respectively.
    • Voltaire rhyming Frank with Frank is painful but doing it four times straight is hilarious.
  • Ear Worm:
    Capone: (to Blackbeard) "I run an intricate criminal syndicate, so show respect. Or get that tongue ripped out your neck and shoved straight up your poopdeck."
  • Ensemble Darkhorse:
    • Boba Fett. He only appears for eight seconds and gets killed by Hitler of all people, but his lines were so awesome that he's become very popular, with people pleading for him to return. Interestingly enough, he was voiced by Ray William Johnson, a particularly divisive YouTube personality, which shows how much people liked the character. To the point where he got his own bonus episode during the season 4-5 hiatus.
    • Nikola Tesla. His battle with Thomas Edison was one of the most requested rap battles up until they fought. He also is one of the few battlers to be overwhelmingly considered by fans to have curb stomped his opponent.
    • Edward Kenway. His cameo in "Blackbeard vs. Al Capone" was so popular, there is a huge, increasing number of fans begging for him to have his own battle.
    • Raphael and Michelangelo (the artists) are quite popular thanks to being played by Smosh.
    • According to many of the comments on YouTube, Mr. Stay Puft was best part of the "Ghostbusters vs Mythbusters" rap battle - with many saying he won.
    • Michael Bay's appearance in "Spielberg vs Hitchcock", where his raps are agreed on as some of the weakest in the battle, but the cinematography and effects are praised as excellent. In other words, Michael Bay's rap segment was just like a Michael Bay movie.
    • Lump the wiener dog appeared in the "Bob Ross vs. Pablo Picasso" battle for all but 1 second, but he's one of the most popular cameos in the ERB series. His wiki page has 92 comments, showing that this minor character had sparked more discussion than many of the actual rappers (including the "stars" of the battle he appeared in — Bob Ross and Pablo Picasso — themselves).
    • Cast-wise, Xin Wuku's stunts get a lot of love.
    • Sacagawea has been called the best part of "Lewis and Clark vs Bill and Ted", mainly for much of her cameo consisting of her beating up a bear in the background.
  • Fountain of Memes: A lot. Most famously would be Juliet from "Bonnie and Clyde vs. Romeo and Juliet" battle on Tumblr.
  • "Funny Aneurysm" Moment:
    • Rap Battle #5; The Macho Man died about 4 months after it was released. Then Kim Jong-Il passed away in December (though Kim could be considered an Acceptable Target, much like Hitler). They later added a brief annotation honoring Randy Savage's memory. Kim Jong-Il? Meh, who cares.
    • In-Universe, Ben Franklin jokes that the battle's going to mark the Death of a Salesman. Just after he starts his second verse, Billy Mays kicks the bucket.
    • Putin's verse is incredibly upbeat and optimistic, which may be connected to the fact that the battle was supposedly requested by Putin himself. However, since the battle release, he has literally outlawed homosexuality and invaded Ukraine. The fact that he has the last verse (meaning nobody can call him out) also makes it harder to watch.
  • Genius Bonus:
    • Adolf Hitler vs. Darth Vader (1, 2 and 3): Vader off-handedly referring to the Stormtrooper clones being superior to Hitler's.
    • Albert Einstein vs. Stephen Hawking: P-brane (pronounced the same as pea-brain) is a vital element in string theory. Also, 'relatively blown' and 'Albert E equals MC square' refers to Einstein's best known theory (relativity).
    • Dr. Seuss vs. William Shakespeare: The entirety of Shakespeare's first verse is in iambic pentameter. Minds will be blown. It's complete with Ye Olde Englishe phrases, pronunciation and theatrical gestures.
    • Wright Bros. vs. Mario Bros.: Said to the Wright Brothers:
    "You might fly like a hawk, but you fight like a kitty!"
    • Bill Gates vs. Steve Jobs: There's a delicious double pun in the line "I think different from the engine of the days of old" - simultaneously playing on Apple's old slogan and Charles Babbage's original computer.
    • Mahatma Gandhi vs. Martin Luther King: Gandhi's advice telling MLK 'With protests and women the same advice goes, always stay away from the ho's' isn't just a fun play on the word 'hose,' which MLK's followers got hit with a lot in protests, but also a reference to the lesser-known allegations of adultery often leveled at him.
    • Skrillex vs. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: The battle is full of awesome music in-jokes—musical terms relevant both to composition and synthesizers, references to several famous electronic musicians, and even a reference to Mozart's tendencies to wax scatological.
    • Rasputin vs. Stalin:
      • Understanding "Rasputin vs. Stalin" requires quite a bit of knowledge on Russian history:
      • Joseph Stalin's right hand was reportedly withered, which is directly referenced by Lenin.
      • Stalin's boast about taking Leon Trotsky "out of the picture" is both literal and figurative, as Stalin orchestrated Trotsky's exile (and possibly assassination), and later altered photographs to remove Trotsky from Lenin's side.
      • Lenin's "hip-hop chowder red over white, 'cause the Tsar's wife can't do shit tonight" is a reference to both the assassination of the Imperial family and the triumph of the Communist Red Army over the Tsarist White Army.
    • Bob Ross vs. Pablo Picasso: "My technique will make your mistress weep / put her to sleep, elbow drop a dream, I go deep" is an extended reference to Picasso's "The Dream". Dora Maar, Picasso's mistress, posed for the painting, and it tore a bit when someone pushed his elbow into it. Bob Ross's line: "I keep it mellow, like I'm cadium yellow. I'm a bright like titanium white kinda fellow" is a reference to the fact that cadium yellow and titanium white were two of the most consistently used colors in his paintings.
    • Donald Trump vs. Ebeneezer Scrooge: The two kids Kanye West ends his verse with aren't random homeless children, they're Ignorance and Want, two children who serve the same function in the original Dickens novella.
    • Stephen King vs. Edgar Allan Poe: Similar to Shakespeare above, Edgar Allan Poe's first verse is in trochee, the inverse of iambic. It even contains a modified line from The Raven.
    • Bill Nye vs. Isaac Newton: Much like Einstein vs. Hawking, the battle has plenty of Genius Bonus, particularly when Newton brings out an equation from one of his works.
    • Zeus vs. Thor: Zeus vs. Thor is packed with obscure details from both Classical Mythology and Norse Mythology, on top of comments about the Greek philosophers and the oft-forgotten Viking discovery of the American continent. Thor's line to Zeus: "we'll flyte it out." It's not just a pun on "fight." Flyting was a common Norse custom involving a rapid-fire exchange of insults, usually in verse and sometimes set to music; essentially ancient rap battling. While old Norse poems do make it clear that Thor engaged in flyting, he was never as skilled in it as Loki, which means Zeus is likely correct when he says "Loki must have written your lines!"
    • Jack The Ripper vs. Hannibal Lecter: Just like in Silence of the Lambs, Hannibal Lecter never blinks on-screen. Hannibal Lecter calls himself "the bon vivant of violence." "Bon vivant," translated literally from French, means "good liver."
    • Steven Spielberg vs. Alfred Hitchcock: Alfred Hitchcock's line "I squeeze screams out of chocolate syrup!" would sound out of place for anyone who isn't familiar with Psycho, in which chocolate syrup was used as fake blood in the infamous shower scene.
    • Eastern Philosophers vs Western Philosophers: Nietzsche going absolutely ballistic at the end of his last verse is this. Confucius said the Nazis were inspired by his work. However, Nietzsche was vehemently against antisemitism, proof being letters he wrote to his sister, where he lambasted her for her backwards views on the Jews. Also, that very same sister reappopriated his work for the Nazi cause. Also how Nietzsche says "They call me Ubermensch!" He doesn't say "I am the Ubermensch!" because in Real Life he actually said he isn't. When Nietzsche said he will drop "A Tao of Pooh", he didn't just tell a poop joke, he also referencing a real book intended to introduce Western audience to Eastern philosophy.
    • Julius Caesar vs. Shaka Zulu: The way the Epic Rap Battles banners move at the end mimics the respective standard strategies of the Zulu (left, showing the chest/horns/loins formations) and the Legions (right).
  • Growing the Beard: When the series started, the costumes and special effects were cheaply-done, the lyrics lacked complexity, and most of the rappers didn't even have a very good sense of rhythm. By the end of Season 1, all of these things had been significantly polished, and the beginning of Season 2 kicked it up another notch. The iconic "Bill Gates vs. Steve Jobs" battle set the standard of great-looking production values and intelligent and innovative rapping which the rest of the series continues to hold (and improve).
  • Harsher in Hindsight: In Jim Henson vs Stan Lee, the former mentions how "the Four will always be Fantastic". The Fantastic Four reboot, which premiered a few days after the battle, turned out to be disappointing. Of course, this could instead be Hilarious in Hindsight depending on your viewpoint.
  • Ho Yay:
    • The reference to Steve likely refers to the fundamentalist/anti-gay slogan "Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve".
    • Freddie Mercury mixes this with Foe Yay in his final line to Sinatra.
  • Internet Backdraft: Only a minor example, but ERB caught quite a bit of flak for tipping over the piano in "Bieber vs. Beethoven", even after explaining that it wasn't working. The amount of work that goes into creating an instrument like a piano, much of which is impossible to do with a machine and requires intense hand labor, causes many people to treat them as works of art unto themselves and destroying one is considered a major offense to music lovers.
  • Iron Woobie: It's subtle, but Vladimir Lenin apparently watched his most trusted student dismantle his efforts toward a socialist paradise in favor of a brutal dictatorship. The reason you don't notice is that Lenin vents about this with authority.
  • It's Short, so It Sucks:
    • A common complaint on "Artists vs. Turtles" is that it's too short for an 8 person Battle, and that the Turtles' verses are half as long as the Artists.
    • The rap part of "David Copperfield vs. Harry Houdini" lasts less than a hundred seconds, with just two relatively short verses for each rapper, which is disappointing coming off the mid-season hiatus.
    • Completely averted with "Shaka Zulu vs Julius Caesar" which, despite being relatively short (especially after the much longer "Philosophers" battle), was met with overwhelmingly positive reception.
  • Memetic Badass: Abe Lincoln. In his first appearance, he raps against fellow Memetic Badass Chuck Norris. In his next appearance, he's carried in by a giant eagle to deliver a verbal beatdown to Obama and Romney.
  • Memetic Mutation: "Ghostbusters vs. Mythbusters" has created two:
    • Go on almost any YouTube vid of the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man these days, and there's bound to be at least 2-3 comments quoting Stay Puft's, "I live so large, you can't harsh my mellow". Which'll usually followed by another comment quoting the next line, "Just one step took me out the ghetto".
    • Likewise, Winston's "Tell 'em 'bout the Twinkie" has become popular on vids of the relevant scene from Ghostbusters (1984). So has Egon's quip about a certain show being "All fluff 'n filler".
    • A lot of Juliet's lines in "Romeo and Juliet vs. Bonnie and Clyde" are very famous on Tumblr despite referencing things like prison rape.
  • Memetic Outfit: Bruce Lee's wearing the yellow jumpsuit from Game of Death. Younger viewers may recognize this outfit from Kill Bill.
  • Most Annoying Sound: A bizarre example as it doesn't come from the Epic Rap Battles at all. After "Bill Gates vs Steve Jobs" battle came out, many fans went looking for an instrumental version of the beat used, only to quickly grow tired of the original's use of "Tristan on the track" as a refrain. Tellingly, numerous versions now exist on YouTube, editing it out.
  • Nausea Fuel:
    • In the Making Of video for "Elvis vs. Michael Jackson", there is a clip of Epic Lloyd spitting out half-eaten bananas into a trash can. He doesn't like bananas too much.
    • George Washington's teeth can get a bit distracting due to this.
  • Never Live It Down: Because Cleopatra gets in three lines attacking Marilyn Monroe for being promiscuous, the Hate Dumb claims that every single woman vs. woman battle consists entirely of both sides calling each other sluts.
  • Nightmare Face:
    • The facial expression made by Stanley Kubrick when he goes "Do another take and get it right / 127 TIMES!" Knowing the way Kubrick was in real life, it's definitely intentional.
    • J. R. R. Tolkien also makes one, when he says that both George R.R. Martin and Jon Snow know nothing.
  • Nightmare Fuel: Has its own page.
  • Older Than They Think: There's a small group who considers Rhett & Link's Epic Rap Battles to be ripoffs of these; their first Epic Rap Battle (the straight-up match between the two) predates "John Lennon vs Bill O Reilly".note 
  • One-Scene Wonder: Boba Fett appears for all of maybe eight seconds in the season 3 premiere. The half-verse that he does manage to get is awesome.
  • Painful Rhyme: Given we're into our fifth season of a series based on rapping, these were inevitable. All examples are listed on the trope page itself.
  • Rescued from the Scrappy Heap: Ray William Johnson is a fairly divisive YouTube creator, to say the least. However, he was able to stand his ground as an actor for the show, with many people considering his eight-second Boba Fett performance to be the best part of the third "Adolf Hitler vs Darth Vader" match, and a number of people considering his raps as Goku to be better than Superman's in the eponymous "Goku vs Superman".
  • Rewatch Bonus: Thanks to the show's use of fast-paced rap music and chroma keyed visuals, just about every episode has at least one clever lyric or Funny Background Event that you're guaranteed to miss on the first viewing, unless you have extremely quick comprehension skills.
  • Rooting for the Empire:
    • Sarah Palin is generally considered to be the winner of the battle "Sarah Palin vs Lady Gaga" despite being incredibly transphobic as most people considered her to be hilarious due to how many times she Crosses the Line Twice.
    • Columbus is also generally considered to have won in "Columbus vs. Kirk" due to many people finding their imitation of William Shatner's speaking style extremely annoying to listen to.
    • In the second "Adolf Hitler vs Darth Vader" battle, many people like Hitler better, even though he's definitely the more evil of the two. Of course, if you're on Vader's side, you're still rooting for the empire.
    • Genghis Khan is almost unanimously agreed to have won in "Genghis Khan vs. Easter Bunny".
    • A fair few people thought The Stay Puft Marshmallow Man won in "Ghostbusters vs. Mythbusters".
    • In "Jim Henson vs. Stan Lee", the winner is generally considered to have been Walt Disney.
    • Most viewers thought that the Terminator beat Robocop.
  • Rule of Cool: The foundation of the whole series. You have far-flung historical characters that know enough about each other for a rap battle. They are even fictional characters rapping against real people; dead or alive. It doesn't make any sense but it sure is cool.
  • The Scrappy:
  • Special Effect Failure:
    • The "slice through ninjas like fruit" bit in the TMNT vs. Renaissance Masters battle certainly counts: the banana in Donatello's hand is so clearly shopped it's translucent.
    • After Holmes drops his killer punchline in his rap battle against Batman, Watson can be seen stepping over a railing in the background, revealing the fact that it's actually a greenscreen.
    • There's something off about the ED-209s' movement at the end of "Terminator vs. Robocop". It's just not as smooth as it could be, and really sticks out from the rest of the battle. Then again, they never were as smooth as Robocop and Terminator is from the future.
    • The scene of Bill Nye walking into frame as he says "And I'm still in my prime" doesn't start offscreen, meaning he literally just blinks into existence rather than walking into frame.
      • From the same battle, in his title card, when Bill runs across the screen holding a beaker, his shadow is very short and a bit deformed.
    • Not so much "special effects" as "camera zoom", but still counts: when Juliet stabs herself, because the camera isn't zoomed in enough, it's very obvious she just thrust the knife beside herself and was nowhere close to her chest. Said knife also completely disappears in the shot where she's on the ground dead.
    • Parodied in "Superman vs. Goku", as Superman spontaneously grows a gigantic third arm just for the sake of punching Goku as he's dissing the Off Model animation of Goku's series.
    • When Walt Disney draws the Mickey Mouse logo, the sparkles he creates... really don't come very close to following the outline made by his finger.
    • Any time a small version of a character is shown to be standing on something (Stephen King having two small versions of himself on his hands, Isaac Newton on a book Bill Nye is holding, etc.), it's very likely that they'll look to be standing somewhat off of it, or just otherwise not standing in a realistic way.
  • Spoiled by the Format: "Stan Lee vs. Jim Henson". The video's length is 5:32, making it the longest ERB episode for its time. So when Lee and Henson stop battling and make amends only 2 minutes in, you just know a third rapper is about to enter.
    • Also subverted later in the episode. If you're expecting the battle to continue after Disney's verse, forget about it — the remaining 2 minutes and 10 seconds are spent on the end slate.
  • Suspiciously Similar Song:
  • They Just Didn't Care: In "Artists vs TMNT", the Turtles tend to switch voices at random over the course of the song. All four of them are voiced by both Peter and Lloyd at some point. Granted, the only part of the song where it really matters is when each of the turtles gets their solo to rap about their Weapon of Choice and their namesake, and during that moment it's Peter as Leo/Raph and Lloyd as Mikey/Donnie, so one might call that the official lineup.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot: Many people felt that Jim Henson and Stan Lee should have teamed up against Walt Disney.
  • Tough Act to Follow:
    • "George Washington vs William Wallace" was considered by some to be extremely underwhelming, especially coming after the excellent string of battles that was "Goku vs Superman", "Edgar Allan Poe vs Stephen King", and "Isaac Newton vs Bill Nye".
    • Season 3 in general compared to season 2. A common complaint is that few of the songs are memorable.
    • "Oprah Winfrey vs Ellen DeGeneres" had the uphill task of following the highly popular "Jack the Ripper vs. Hannibal Lecter".
    • "Lewis & Clark vs. Bill & Ted" had the bad luck to come out after the hiatus that occurred after the director battle royale, and then over the next few weeks was overshadowed by progressively better battles.
    • "Stan Lee vs. Jim Henson". Not only did it come on the heels of "East vs. West Philosophers" and "Shaka Zulu vs. Julius Caesar", both of which got very positive reception, but it served as the finale for Season 4—an honor that many people thought would go to "Philosophers". This set the bar high for the battle... only for the titular characters to get roughly one verse each of actual battle rapping note  before patching things up and being friendly. And then Walt Disney enters and turns the rest of the battle into just a Boastful Rap about himself and how he now owns the creations of both competitors. It hurts that the battle's flow is rather slow and the lyrics aren't particularly memorable; people seem to like the concept but not the execution, and consider it a good battle but far from a good season finale.
  • Unconventional Learning Experience: Many rap battles can make people want to go out and learn about people like Newton, William Wallace, Gandhi, Da Vinci, etc, etc.
  • Visual Effects of Awesome:
    • "Goku vs. Superman". Particularly the Air Jousting at the end, and Goku turning Super Saiyan.
    • In "Batman vs. Sherlock Holmes", the visual effects for Batman's first verse were pretty boss.
    • "Zeus vs Thor" is animated with Lego Blocks, akin to The LEGO Movie.
    • In "J. R. R. Tolkien vs. George R.R. Martin" the scene where Martin drops a small tree branch which turns into a full tree is pretty fun to watch.
  • Win Back the Crowd:
    • The fandom was displeased with the unannounced hiatus that happened after the "Bill Gates vs Steve Jobs", some even going so far as to thinking that the work would become an Orphaned Series. Cue the announcement that the next six Rap Battles would be uploaded back-to-back every fortnight, followed by a holiday break and more episodes. This was impeded only by a small Schedule Slip in regards to "Batman vs Sherlock Holmes".
    • It happened between Seasons 3 and 4. Many fans found "Artists vs Turtles" to be an incredibly disappointing finale to the third season, but were immensely pleased when Season 4 came back with "Ghostbusters vs. Mythbusters", which they considered a group battle done right.
    • When season 4.5 came around, many fans found the first two battles lackluster and began accusing Peter and Lloyd of selling out and not having fun anymore. Then along came "Terminator vs Robocop", which silenced some dissenters, and then "Philosophers East vs West", which was met with a great deal of praise.
  • The Woobie:
    • The Easter Bunny really bit off more than he could chew.
    • Freddie Mercury starts off as one. He spends most of Frank Sinatra's first verse and part of his first verse moping at his piano, saying that he's heard all the insults that Frank hurled at him before. Then he gets going.

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/YMMV/EpicRapBattlesOfHistory