Yuson, also known as Anygma, is the man behind the legendary battle rap league FlipTop.
FlipTop consists of several tournaments in which rappers, otherwise known as emcees, insult and outwit each other in a series of timed rounds, mediated by a host and decided by a group of judges in front of a live audience. Emcees battle alone, in pairs, or in teams, and the winners of each round battle each other until a champion emerges.
Unlike other battle rap events in the country at the time, which adopted the freestyle-with-a-backing-track format popularized by the movie 8 Mile, FlipTop emcees write their rhymes before their battles and deliver them a cappella, or without an instrumental track. This ensures emcees win because of their lyricism, or what Anygma called “the power of concentrated thought,” and not by how well they can ride the rhythm of a track.
“Between its emcees being extremely particular about the rhymes they write, and the fans becoming meticulous about the lines they hear, I think FlipTop has increased the quality of lyricism in the country,” said Joseph Martin Cagasan, aka Sinio, 32, a FlipTop emcee known for the jokes he injects into his verses.
Freestyle, of course, is not dead. The ability to come up with rhymes on the fly often spells the difference between what Anygma called “regulars” and “God-level” emcees. But preparing rhymes allows some rappers to better articulate themselves without having to hide the fact that they write rhymes in advance anyway.