On July 16, Dallas will serve as one of two regional qualifiers for Red Bull Batalla, the world’s largest freestyle Spanish rap competition. Since 2005, the series of events has provided young Spanish-speaking MCs with a platform to perform, compete, and hone their skills. The top six competitors in Dallas will then head to Miami for the national finals on October 8; the international finals will be held in Mexico City in December. (Downtown’s Club Vivo will host the Dallas event.)
Compared to American rap, which draws inspiration from the Jamaican style of “toasting”—talking or chanting over a beat—Spanish rap evolved from the improvisational stylings of traditional folk troubadours. As the style has grown stateside, Dallas has evolved into a thriving home for the genre. This makes sense given the city’s music history. Latino artists such as DJ VRYWVY, DJ Baby G, and George Lopez of T-Town Music have played vital roles in the elevation of Dallas hip-hop abroad.
The city is also no stranger to the competition. Last year, three local rappers got their turn on the mic in the regional qualifier. In 2020, Jordi Esparza—who lived in Dallas before his move to Austin—placed third in the Red Bull Batalla, which secured his spot for the 2021 national finals in Los Angeles. Esparza will again compete in the U.S. finals this year in Miami. The top six rappers out of the 16 who will battle in Dallas will join him.
In addition to the U.S. finals, Red Bull Batalla will host national finals in eight other countries: Uruguay, Mexico, Chile, Colombia, Peru, Spain, Argentina, and Ecuador.
As Spanish-speaking artists such as Puerto Rican rapper Bad Bunny continue to break streaming records worldwide, Spanish rap will continue to gain in popularity stateside. (Bunny made history with the first Spanish-language album to hit No. 1 on the Billboard 200 with 2020’s El Último Tour del Mundo, then did it again in March with Un Verano Sin Ti.) Dallas, meanwhile, is in prime position to develop the next generation of world-class competitors.