Ever since Red Bull Batalla landed on Argentina back in 2005, it has managed to solidify its place as one of the most important freestyle rap competition in the country, accompanying the culture in its rapid evolution and popularization. For its 14th edition, 16 freestylers ranging from scene legends to newcomers faced off to determine who gets to claim the title and move on to represent Argentina in the upcoming the international finals.
On October 23, the Movistar Arena found itself packed with the movement’s most loyal fans and spectators. On the judges table were Dtoke, one of the two sole two-time champions in the history of the competition, Klan, the 2021 champion, and Acru, recording artist and multiple-time finalist. The panel was mostly praised by fans as a true representation of the expertise, skill and knowledge it takes to judge an event as big as this one. On hosting duties was Taty Santa Ana, who has been involved with the movement for over 10 years and has constantly shown her support for women in the male-dominated scene, and on the turntables stood DJ Zone, one of the most renowned beatmakers in the country.
Right before the event kicked off, each one of the initial matches were announced one by one: Barto vs. Dybbuk, Jaff vs. CTZ, Exe vs. Nekro, Larrix vs. MP — one that the host explicitly mentioned that could have been a final match due to the skill of both competitors, — Jesse Pungaz vs. Wolf, Kusa vs. MRN, Pelín vs. Naista, and Ritter vs. Mecha. By the sounds of the crowd, who were ready to give their all from the get-go, the clear favorites were Wolf, Larrix and Mecha, though the earlier ended up being eliminated during his first match.
The first round went smoothly and managed to keep the tensions high at all times. Though after only 8 of the 16 initial candidates were left, it was clear that each match would turn out to be a tough task for the judges. Throughout the night, competitors showed no remorse to each other with hard-hitting lines that at one point even touched on dead relatives, but immediately expressed their respect and admiration once each winner was declared. Some even took their time to send a message, as Pelín, who got the audience to scream along “street art isn’t a crime.”
The semifinals included a welcome twist to the format and even higher stakes. The competitors were asked to base their lines around random objects that they could find inside a box, and it took their creativity to a whole new level as they managed to continue delivering killing punchlines around magnifying glasses, binoculars, frames and globes. Mecha arguably shined the hardest in this format, beating out Jesse Pungaz, and Larrix suprisingly lost out to CTZ in the second half of their match due to not being able to correctly follow the format. Larrix and Pungaz eventually faced off to determine who the third placer would be, an honor that comes along with a ticket to the 2023 National Finals, and the latter managed to once again beat the odds and earn the achievement.
The final match was as insane as one could think. While CTZ did an impressive job standing against a titan, Mecha delivered a performance that was over the second he asked the guest beatboxer to stop for a second and continued the job himself during the match. It may have been an expected triumph, but an undoubtedly deserved one nonetheless. The 21-year-old’s crowning had a long time coming, but it came at a perfect time. The victory brought everyone, on and off-stage, to tears and it quickly became obvious that it was all more than a mere competition, but a celebration of a movement, a culture, and a legacy.
Mecha will be representing Argentina on the 2022 Red Bull Batalla International finals on December 10, 2022, in Mexico City. You can get your tickets now.