The 9 million-strong online Battle Rap community and the functionality of Drake

An online combat rap community has grown by the millions since the start of the pandemic. Drake made a special appearance at the last event and handed out a prize of $ 150,000, drawing enthusiasm and more fans.

The Ultimate Rap League, or URL, is an online combat rap channel hosted by the Caffeine streaming service. Viewers go to Caffeine and then have the option to watch the live URL content and share live feedback during the battles.

Since the URL launch in February 2020 on Caffeine, nearly nine million viewers have logged in. Almost a year and a half later, URL is growing with the size of its fan base, the prestige of its supporters, and the artistry of its MCs and combat rappers. .

NOME XI, also known as The Night Of Main Events, is one of the most anticipated URL events. The live show aired in mid-June, drew hundreds of thousands of viewers online, and also featured an in-person crowd.

Drake made an appearance at NOME XI, which was his first official appearance on Caffeine but not his first time at a URL event.

“I’ve been emotionally invested in this for a long time,” Drake told NOME XI. “I just think the world needs to see all of these individuals. Obviously I’m doing a different version of this [rap], but I idolize a lot of these guys. And they inspire a lot of the things I do, the decisions I make.

“Looking at all these crazy conflicts and schemes and stuff… it’s obvious that we’re studying what these guys are doing,” said Drake, of the relationship between popular rap and combat rap. “Everything in the rap space is competitive. This [battle rap] is the truest form of it.

The cash prize for the Ultimate URL Madness contest has been set at $ 100,000. Then Drake took a bunch of money out of his pockets and raised the bet to $ 150,000.

The Caffeine streaming platform launched in November 2019, shortly before adding the URL to its offerings. Since the URL’s launch on the platform, nearly nine million viewers have logged in for various events and streams. Tori Socha, Caffeine Content Manager, credits the interactivity.

“It’s one thing if you watch clips on VOD (video on demand platform) after the fact. It’s another whole new experience for fans to interact and engage in real time, ”said Socha. “When you watch a fight rap event at home, you can vote for who you thought you won in each round. You have a direct say in how you thought the battles went.

This means that viewers influence content in real time, which may explain why the average viewing time is relatively high: 90 minutes. The average viewing time of NOME XI, however, was 160 minutes.

Before the URL was on Caffeine, it was paid and had a much smaller audience. Events are now online, free and produced by Caffeine, even during the pandemic. Thanks to these broken barriers and an interactive platform, the number of viewers is booming.

Since May 2020, for example, the number of unique viewers has increased by more than 518%.

“Our team envisions the URL becoming a household name like the UFC or WWE,” URL co-founder Eric Beasely said in an email. “In the same way that Dana White or Vince McMahon catapulted their sports brands and athletes into the mainstream, it’s the same way we want our brand and our lyrical athletes to be recognized.”

Beasely also said the URL team plans to create a foundation to give back to the communities where many fighters and owners come from.

“The future of battle rap as a whole is bright, provided that everyone remains focused on the art and does not abandon the foundations of it to the first source of success. URL has always focused on being awesome, legendary, iconic, ”said Beasely.

Season two of the URL is confirmed. In the meantime, Caffeine plans to release additional content related to sneakers and street dancing.

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