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What happens when you take historical figures, popular media personalities, and a handful of fictional characters, and have them pair off and compete against each other...in rap contests?
You get, well, Epic Rap Battles of History. While the "epic" part may be disputed, otherwise it's Exactly What It Says on the Tin - a pair of comedians (Nice Peter and EpicLloyd) and guest YouTube performers portraying these people rapping off against each other in online videos.
The matchups so far have been the following:
- John Lennon vs. Bill O'Reilly
- Darth Vader vs. Adolf Hitler
- Abraham Lincoln vs. Chuck Norris
- Sarah Palin vs. Lady Gaga *
- Hulk Hogan and Randy Savage vs. Kim Jong-Il *
- Justin Bieber vs. Ludwig Van Beethoven *
- Albert Einstein vs. Stephen Hawking *
- Genghis Khan vs. The Easter Bunny
- Napoleon Bonaparte vs. Napoleon Dynamite
- Billy Mays and Vince Offer vs. Benjamin Franklin *
- Gandalf vs. Dumbledore
- Dr. Seuss vs. William Shakespeare *
- Mr. T vs. Mr. Rogers *
- Christopher Columbus vs. Captain Kirk
- Nicepeter vs. EpicLloyd
- Darth Vader vs. Adolf Hitler (rematch)
- Master Chief vs. Leonidas *
- The Wright Brothers vs. The Mario Brothers *
- Michael Jackson vs. Elvis Presley *
- Cleopatra vs. Marilyn Monroe *
These raps provide examples of
- Ass Shove: A couple.
Napoleon Bonaparte: "I'm going to shove your moon boots straight up your poop chute!"
- Actor Allusion: The Cat in the Hat wears sunglasses identical to Nice Peter's signature look. His voice is also the same.
- May or may not have been intentional, But the Wright Bros., who launched their first plane in North Carolina, are played by Rhett and Link who were both born in said state.
- Anachronism Stew; The reason why Beethoven references Facebook, Columbus references Hulu, Leonidas know of computers and video games, and Adolf Hitler knows Rick Moranis, among plenty of other things.
- Ate His Gun: Mario tried to do so behind the scenes.
- Attack of the 50 Foot Whatever: Chuck Norris' second verse.
- The Mario Brothers grow a bit in their second verse after eating mushrooms.
- And Now for Something Completely Different: Shakespeare's second verse. Turns out he can rap really fast.
- That's to be expected; he was played by George Watsky, one of the fastest rappers on Youtube.
- Antiquated Linguistics: Shakespeare uses this, true to form. See also Sophisticated As Hell below.
- Audience Participation: Each showdown is based off a fan suggestion.
- Auto-Tune: Used for Stephen Hawking's rapping, since it's very difficult to get anything resembling rhythm out of the actual voice synthesizer program.
- Badass: Stephen Hawking. Attentive viewers will notice that he's playing Angry Birds on the console he uses to speak.
- Authority Equals Asskicking: You can't get anymore authoritative than these guys.
- Napoleon, Emperor of France.
- Darth Vader, Dark Lord of the Sith.
- Adolf Hitler, Chancellor and Führer of Germany.
- Genghis Khan, Khagan of the Mongol Empire.
- Abraham Lincoln, President of USA.
- Benjamin Franklin, Governor of Pennsylvania.
- Sarah Palin, Governor of Alaska.
- Kim Jong-il, Leader of North Korea.
- Leonidas, King of the Spartans.
- Chuck Norris, who claims to be "everyone's master".
- Cleopatra, Queen of Egypt.
- Badass Baritone: Beethoven, Darth Vader, Christopher Columbus, and Master Chief.
- Badass Beard: Abe Lincoln, Billy Mays, CHUCK NORRIS, and Wilbur Wright.
- Badass Boast: Nearly everyone invokes this.
- Badass Bookworm: Ben Franklin is an educated gentleman. Then there's Einstein and (again) Hawking.
- Badass Long Robe: Gandalf and Dumbledore.
- Badass Mustache: Ghengis Khan's Fu Manchu, Albert Einstein, Hitler's toothbrush moustache, the Mario Brothers and Orville Wright.
- Back-to-Back Badasses: The Mega Powers.
- Handicapped Badass: Hawking can play a touchscreen-based game without using his hands.
- Hot Chick in a Badass Suit: Sarah Palin, who can kill moose barehanded.
- I Just Want to Be Badass: Justin Bieber.
- Killer Rabbit: What the Easter Bunny tries to be.
- Authority Equals Asskicking: You can't get anymore authoritative than these guys.
- Bash Brothers: The Mario Bros and the Wright Brothers.
- Battle Royale With Cheese: More than two thirds of the contestans have come Back From the Dead to rap.
- The Bechdel Test: Due to the constant back and forth about what guys they slept with, Marilyn Monroe vs Cleopatra fail this test.
- Ironically, Sarah Palin vs Lady Gaga almost passes this test, despite the latter being played Nice Peter. The only man named in the song is John McCain in the last line of the song, and even then it's in a political context.
- Berserk Button:
- Einstein pushes Hawking's when he questions the validity of Hawking's Black Hole Theory.
- Dr.Seuss does not like being accused of writing the Twilight series.
- Mr. Rogers goes from mostly-polite teasing to outright scary when accused of child molestation.
- Marilyn Monroe got downright vicious when her inablity to have kids was brought up.
- Big Badass Wolf: In the final battle (of season 1), Kassem G uses a magnificent flying one.
- Bigger Is Better in Bed:
- Bilingual Bonus:
- Napoleon Bonaparte gets one at the beginning of his second line.
- Also, Christopher Columbus gets "Arrivederci! I'ma leave, before this battle begins."
- Boastful Rap: All of the character raps have hints of this. In addition to dissing and countering opponents, the raps also elaborate on the characters' awesomeness. Ubiquitous in every battle is "I [insert awesome thing], you [insert stupid thing]!"
- Butt Monkey: Adolf Hitler. Gets frozen in carbonite, thawed out to battle again, then dropped in the rancor pit.
- Call Back: The battle against the creators themselves featured cameos from nearly all the characters they've played as before.
- The rematch with Vader and Hitler begins with Hitler frozen in carbonite, just as he was at the end of their original battle.
- Card-Carrying Villain: Darth Vader and Adolf Hitler, naturally. Bill O'Reilly also, particularly during his second verse.
- The Cast Showoff: Arguably anyone, but special mention goes to George Watsky as Shakespeare during his fast-rap verse. Jaws are dropping.
- Cat Fight: Cleopatra vs Marilyn Monroe.
- Compensating for Something: Dumbledore asks Gandalf if his staff is part of this.
- Cool Versus Awesome: Abraham Lincoln versus Chuck Norris.
- Country Matters: Subverted in the Vader VS Hitler rematch. Vader says a line that suggests he's about to make a rhyme with the word "runt", but instead sets up for "deez nuts".
- Creator Cameo: If EpicLloyd isn't playing one of the rappers, he likes to appear in the background as a character who doesn't speak but is referenced by one of them. Examples include:
- Carl Sagan in Einstein vs Hawking.
- John McCain in Palin Vs Gaga.
- Johann Sebastian Bach in Bieber vs Beethoven.
- Hannibal, Murdoch, Face, and Mr. McFeely in T vs Rogers.
- Things 1 & 2 in Seuss vs Shakespeare (the only one where he speaks thus far, since Seuss is The Voiceless).
- Pleistarchus (Leonidas' six year old son) in Leonidas Vs Master Chief.
- Marlon Brando in Cleopatra Vs Marilyn Monroe.
- Nice Peter has one as John F. Kennedy in Cleopatra Vs Marilyn Monroe.
- Jon Na, the director of photography for Columbus Vs Kirk, cameos as Sulu.
- Creepy Monotone: Mister Rogers.
- Death Glare: Mister Rogers ends his second verse with a very scary one.
- Deliberately Monochrome: Hitler's verses until Vader uses the Force to bring him into his own screen. May double as Anachronism Stew when you notice that Vader claims that he came before Hitler, and all of his screentime is shot in color.
- Designated Girl Fight: Two examples so far:
- Don't Try This At Home: In the behind-the-scenes video for Cleopatra vs. Marilyn Monroe, Lloyd shows off a Vader vs. Hitler shirt and tells viewers not to wear it at school because it might get them expelled.
- Early-Bird Cameo: The first season finale gives viewers a glimpse of the Super Mario Bros., King Henry VIII, and Master Chief. ERB News also revealed the Wright Brothers, Elvis, and Steve Jobs.
- Early Installment Weirdness: The first rap battle (Lennon vs. O'Reilly) lacks the subtitles that later versions have, not to mention being originally censored (an uncensored version was later uploaded). The announcer also had a different voice for the first few battles.
- Epic Fail: Hitler claims that Vader's entire life is one big this. Vader doesn't have any comeback...other than laughing as Hitler steps over the Rancor pit before dropping him in.
- Evasive Fight Thread Episode: It is nearly impossible to come to a consensus over who "wins" each rap battle. Everyone's rap style and lyrics are determined by their popular image, so each side will also sound wildly different and some matchups will feel more equal then others. In addition, the raps are accompanied by dramatic elements and special effects that are either indicating the current rapper's superiority, or are just for fun, and this further confuses the issue. The episodes themselves leave the winner up to the viewers, but the YouTube commentators often don't bother.
- Finally averted when ERB allowed viewers to vote on Facebook and on their official site, leading to an official winner, starting with Hitler having officially beaten Vader in their rematch.
- Elvis Impersonator: EpicLLYOD as Elvis.
- Evil Laugh: Genghis Khan.
- Eviler Than Thou: The primary basis of the Hitler vs. Vader match.
- Evil Versus Evil: Adolf Hitler vs. Darth Vader
- Fan Service: Cleopatra Vs Marilyn is mostly riding on it.
- First Name Ultimatum: Mr. Rogers gives one of these to Mr. T.
Mr. Rogers: I'll say this once Laurence, I hope it's understood. Get right back in your van and get the fuck outta my neighborhood.
- Foreshadowing: Ben Franklin makes several death threats to Billy Mays, promising to "craft a lyrical coffin", telling him to "join or die", and referencing "Death of a Salesman". At first, this just seems like the usual hip-hop trash talk, but then...
- Follow the Leader: A handful of people have done copycat videos based off the concept, usually low-budget single person productions.
- For the Evulz: The reason Hitler gives for ruining the Star Wars prequels.
- Darth only thawed Hitler out for their rematch, and to drop him into the Rancor Pit.
- Freeze-Frame Bonus: There's often so much going on the screen that some of the humor can be missed. For instance, Kim Jong-Il's missile launcher fires his own head!
- Funny Background Event:
- Most of the battles have the characters doing ridiculous dances and/or poses in the background.
- Stephen Hawking is seen playing Angry Birds.
- Behind the Wright Brothers, you can see biplanes flying, and at one point one crashing into the ground.
- Fun with Subtitles:
- In Kirk Vs Columbus, the word Klingon is written in Klingon.
- When Luigi's profanity is censored by the sound of collected coins, the subtitles also use the image of coins from the Mario Bros games as a form of censorship.
- Global Ignorance: Hulk Hogan apparently thought Beijing was in Korea, not China. Kim Jong-Il does not let that one slide.
Kim Jong Il: Beijing is in China, you blond asshole!
- Gratuitous French: Napoleon Bonaparte breaks into this partway through his rap. Naturally, it translates to another Take That.
- Ham-to-Ham Combat: The entire premise.
- Hilarious Outtakes: Behind the scenes, Nicepeter (as Columbus) accidentally smacks Omar Gharaibeh (as Spock) in the face while delivering a neck chop.
- Historical In-Joke: So many, with them almost all very well researched.
- Incredibly Lame Pun: While not part of one of the rap battles themselves, Charles Darwin hosts ERB News, and spits out two of them.
- As the rap battles continue to evolve...
- Thank you for choosing Youtube.com/ERB. It is, after all, a natural selection.
- There are some cases of puns in the rap battles though, such as Albert E=MC squared.
- Jaw Drop: In the aftermath of Shakespeare's Motor Mouth segment. Even the beat stops.
- Nicepeter's jaw drops when Epic Lloyd stripped out of his leotard.
- Joke Character: Even the narrator sighs when he introduces the Easter Bunny.
- Just Here for Godzilla: In-universe, during their Rap battle, Epic Lloyd invokes this as the reason people visit Nice Peter's youtube channel.
Epic Lloyd: Nice Peter, who's that? No-one gives two shits! Everyone knows your page is just the place where the Rap Battles live!
- Kids Rock: Young Michael Jackson, played by 10-year-old Bentley Green.
- Kubrick Stare: Dr. Seuss has a frightening one. Given that he never says a word...
- Lampshade Hanging: Shakespeare's first verse is in iambic pentameter. This does not go unnoticed.
"I hath been iambic on that ass, ye bastard."
- Large Ham: Hitler, Genghis Kahn, Mr. T, Leonidas, and the Mario Brothers.
- They're just the worst. Everyone to appear in these vids is hamming it up.
- Lethal Joke Character: Note the tinny music that plays when Mr. Rogers is introduced...which then turns into the regular rap music as Mr. Rogers lets out a chilling rap against Mr. T.
- Let's Get Dangerous:
- Beethoven after chucking over his piano.
Beethoven: I'm committing verbal murder in the major third degree! My name is Beethoven, motherfucker, maybe you heard of me!
- Marilyn Monroe taking off her earrings in her second verse.
- Marionette Master: Dr. Seuss "raps" through his characters, The Cat in the Hat and Thing 1 & Thing 2.
- Marilyn Manoeuvre: The lady herself shows us how it's done (well, in universe it's her, anyway).
- Meaningful Background Event: As Ebenezer Scrooge raps at the departing Donald Trump, insisting he doesn't believe in ghosts (or "that hair"), the clock on the mantelpiece swings around to midnight, heralding the arrival of the ghost of JP Morgan.
- Midword Rhyme:
Mario Bros.: Like POW!
- Monochrome Past: Hitler's verses are shot in monochrome. Until Vader Force Chokes him into the present, that is.
- Also young Elvis.
- So is Marylin Monroe.
- Motor Mouth: The Bard himself pulls this one off at impressive speed, even for typical Motor Mouth standards.
- Ms. Fanservice: Most obviously and unquestionably Cleopatra.
- News Parody: The first battle has a parody news ticker that shows up twice.
- No Indoor Voice:
- Billy Mays, as usual.
- Hiter in the rematch.
- No Swastikas: Adolf Hitler's arm band sports a rock 'n' roll horns shaped symbol.
- Paedo Hunt: Courtesy of Mr. T:
Mr. T: So before you come to battle with your PBS crap, how 'bout I call up CPS about them kids on your lap, fool!
- Not to mention Elvis Presley
Elvis: 'Cause all you wanna do is teach kids the birds and the bees
- Parody Episode: Nicepeter and Daneboe teamed up to give us The Annoying Orange VS M&M in Epic Rap Battles Of Kitchenry.
- Piss-Take Rap: Done very intentionally.
- Precision F-Strike: Almost every single video has at least one well-placed curse word in there somewhere, but Mister Rogers takes the cake.
Chuck Norris: I AM CHUCK FUCKING NORRIS!
- Cluster F-Bomb: John Lennon vs. Bill O'Reilly, while maybe not exactly fitting here, is much more frequent in swearing than the other battles.
- Rage Quit: In EpicLlyod vs.NicePeter
Lloyd: "I'm gonna knock you right out of your little Superman socks! You were nothing before you rode up on KessemG's jock'!
- Rated "M" for Manly:
- Hitler vs Vader (both battles)
- Lincoln vs Chuck Norris
- Kim Jong-Il vs Hulk and Macho Man
- Leonidas vs Master Chief, so very much!
- Refuge in Audacity: Many of the videos run with this, although the Vader vs. Hitler one is the most blatant about it.
- The Wright Brothers have a grainy sepia tone and their audio is processed to sound like it was recorded on a phonograph.
- Aside from the fact that young Elvis is shot in monochrome, both old Elvis and young Michael are shown as if recorded from a VHS around their time. Old Michael even has a special filter on him that makes him appear as in the '90s video clips.
- Running Gag:
- In the behind the scenes videos, there's a running theme of Lloyd jokingly asking other people if they want to buy some heroin.
- Lloyd also sometimes dresses up in part of the costume and imitates the announcer.
Lloyd (with Gandalf's beard) "The Oakridge Boys VS ZZ top!"
- There also seems to be one in the second season's behind the scenes videos of people not recognizing who one of the rappers is supposed to be, such as one man not realizing Lloyd was dressed as Mario.
- Screw This, I'm Outta Here:
- Subverted in the Columbus/Kirk battle, where Christopher Columbus seemingly walked out after his opening line.
- Dr. Seuss did a subtle straight version. He got the hell out of dodge before the Cat in the Hat let Thing 1 and Thing 2 free.
- "Later, weirdo, Elvis is leaving the building."
- Sensitive Guy and Manly Man: Quite a few of the matchups are like this:
- Sequel Escalation: The rematch between Hitler and Vader. Considering this is the first battle of season 2, this is expected.
- Shout-Out: Ubiquitous.
- Sibling Incest: Doesn't actually happen, but Mario tells the Wright Brothers to "just get back in [their] biplane and make out with each other".
- Decidedly does happen with Cleopatra and her brothers.
- Sophisticated As Hell: Shakespeare does this quite a lot.
Shakespeare: What light through yonder poser breaks?'
- Spell My Name with an "S": Hitler's first name is spelt 'Adolph' on his title card at the beginning, but is spelt in the more conventional way, 'Adolf', in the subtitles where he introduces himself. Both spellings are valid. In the rematch, however, Hitler's title card actually uses the spelling 'Adolf'.
- Spin-Off: 9, The Official Fanzine type that shows the behind the scenes and extra info.
- Epic Rap Battles of History - Behind the Scenes
- Epic Drawings of History with Marydoodles
- Epic Makeup with Ceciley
- Stealth Pun: Several.
- "...ten thousand dollar shoes I use to stomp out a beatle."
- "I'll "school" you anywhere - MIT to Oxford"
- "...when you try to put your little p-brane against this kind of mind..."
- "Sorry, Wright Brothers, this time you chose wrong."
- "You might fly like a hawk, but you fight like a kitty."
- "You've been upstaged Bill. Man you just got played" is especially stealthy.
- "I've seen every record you set, man I beat it."
- Stupid Jetpack Hitler: Hitler apparently traveled through time and messed with the Star Wars prequels.
- Stylistic Suck: Everyone is basically this, due to the whole premise being a rap Battle Royale With Cheese.
- Super Mode:
- In the first Vader/Hitler battle, Vader begins to use The Force in his second verse to choke Hitler and then freeze him in carbonite.
- Chuck Norris in his second verse, resulting in bursts of fire and Attack of the 50 Foot Whatever.
- The Mario Brothers grow larger in their second verse, complete with the appropriate sound from the game.
- Take That: They really like to poke fun at John McCain.
Lincoln: I got my face on the side of a mountain; you voted for John McCain!
- Twilight Books. Even Dr. Seuss couldn't tolerate being accused of that.
- Take Up My Sword:
- Hulk Hogan gets shot down via bazooka by Kim Jong-Il, so Macho Man tags in to fight back in place of the injured Hogan.
- After Billy Mays dies mid-battle against Ben Franklin, the Shamwow guy dramatically emerges to finish the battle.
- This Is for Emphasis, Bitch: Vader, Chuck Norris, Gandalf and Kirk all pull this.
Gandalf: "Tom riddle me this you bitch, how's your puny little wand gonna beat my staff?"
- Mr. T has a variant of this, fool!
- Title Scream
- Time Skip: In the Elvis Presley VS Michael Jackson fight, both characters go through this. Michael spins into his older, whiter self, and Elvis gets fat from eating too much.
- Tranquil Fury:
- Transformation Sequence: Young Michael Jackson spins transforming into older Michael Jackson.
- Toilet Humor: Elvis Presley's death on the can is inevitably brought up when he fights Michael Jackson.
- Ultimate Showdown of Ultimate Destiny: The whole point. Just with rap.
- Unfortunate Names: The Wright Brothers, according to the Mario Bros.
Luigi: Look at these two; their lives must've been horrible!
- The Unintelligible: The announcer gradually becomes this as more videos are released. Each video tries to top the last.
- The Voiceless: Dr. Seuss lets his art do the talking for him.
- Unusual Euphemism: The Wright Bros have been "playing Donkey Kong" with Princess Peach.
- Master Chief showed Leonidas' wife his "Plasma cannon".
- Joe Dimaggio "took a swing in [Marilyn Monroe]'s batter's box," and Cleopatra has been "tossing Caesar's salad."
- Visual Pun: Billy Mays with his "lightning rod cock".
- The Wiki Rule: Here.
- Would Hit a Girl: Captain Kirk strikes the Queen multiple times.
- Wouldn't Hit a Girl: Beethoven claims this is why he can't assault Bieber.
- X Called. They Want Their Y Back.: Mr. T says this to Mr. Rogers:
- Ye Olde Butcherede Englishe: Played with by Shakespeare, featuring such things as "Ye Hoebag".
"I'll put a slug between your shoulder blades / Then ask what light through yonder poser breaks."
- Your Princess Is in Another Castle: Master Chief's rap opens up with this, right after Leonidas kicks him down the well.
- The Wright Brothers spend their first few lines saying this to the Mario Brothers.
- Your Mom:
- Vader to Hitler: "So many dudes been with your mom, who even knows if I'm your father?"
- Hawking to Einstein: "There are ten million million million million million million million million million particles in the universe that we can observe/ Your mama took the ugly ones and put them into one nerd".
- Battles marked with an asterisk (*) feature people other than Nice Peter and Epic Llyod
- "T'as une tête a faire sauter les plaques d'egouts" = "You've got a face that could blow off a manhole cover"
- Including those of Seuss and the Cat in the Hat.