Our final intermission begins! If you know, you know: the inspiration for Epic Rap Battles of Arkerra was Epic Rap Battles of Historya well-loved YouTube series that still puts out a new video every now and then. Despite its name, ERB includes battles between fictional characters and present-day real people as well as historical figures, so we weren’t stretching things too far to write some raps of our own.

These battles are true battles, and the ERB versions of the characters they depict are often a little fightier than their non-rapping counterparts…more self-aggrandizing, quick to dis their enemies on every level, and very well-educated about their opponents’ weak points. That’s the lens we usually applied to these contests, but we focused them by mostly using pre-existing conflicts. We had you guys vote on the winners last time, but if you want the resulting scores, check the pop-up text on these images. (Writing is me, lettering is Flo.)

On to this battle, specifically…this one is mid-tier for me. I’m very fond of them all, but I’d rank this one #4 out of 6.

Cons: I feel like we should have acknowledged that in any fair, even musical contest…Best is going to win. He’s just going to win. There’s no way Byron could beat him…alone. But Byron is not alone: he has succeeded in making friends throughout the series. If the team of Sundar, Braggadocio, and Gravedust jumped in to offer support (much as another team of friends will in the final rap battle here), then that could make Byron’s point about friendship better. It’d do justice to the idea that Best the one-man band could overcome any one opponent.

I also think I should’ve tried harder to go with pure song parodies for Best—and maybe added a couple more songs to round things out—instead of jumping between song parody and more standard rap verses. At the least, we could’ve set the different kinds of lyrics off better…the Nirvana tribute in the middle is a little hard to “hear” at first.

And a rap battle that represents the clash of Best and Byron should pay some homage to how that clash ended. It wouldn’t be the first such battle to conclude with the combatants laying down their rhymes, making up, and embracing.

Pros: I really like some of the end rhymes we found (axes/chemoprophylaxis, nurse/curse, friendlessly/endlessly).

The song parodies of “Starman,” “Come As You Are,” and “Karma Chameleon” do work, and John renders Ziggy Best, Best Cobain, and Bes George wonderfully.

Echoes of our title in “guilt and rage” and Byron’s ax/friends in “bay and bray.” Plus a lot of internal rhyme, which was a policy we’d maintain for this whole mini-series.

I tested this on Janice, and the basic message comes through: Best’s lyrics have more cleverness, Byron’s have more heart. Plus, I love that the votes on the battle ended in an actual tie.

So yeah, it could’ve been better. But overall, not bad!

FB: Bowie riffs we didn’t use: “Look Bad In Anger,” “Life of Wars,” “Sundar’s Fresher.”