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Long a mainstay on YouTube, Epic Rap Battles of History is using their platform to set the facts straight in the face of a sea of political misinformation.
The founders of Epic Rap Battles of History, Peter “Nice Peter” Shukoff and Lloyd “EpicLLOYD” Ahlquist, create rap battles between fictional, historical and political figures using fact-based lyrics. With political tensions at an all-time high, Epic Rap Battles of History uses their channel to publish comedically styled, well-researched information to clue their viewers in on one of America’s most important battles yet: Joe Biden versus Donald Trump.
What is Epic Rap Battles of History About?
When it comes to creating lyrics for their characters, it’s clear that the Epic Rap Battles of History team does its research. In an interview done by Inverse in the article “The Dudes Behind ‘Epic Rap Battles of History’ Eye an Uncertain Future,” Shukoff explains the process of getting into character in the Trump era.
“We go into these characters to find their voice, to understand what they would say. Normally we’ve done that with characters we revere,” Shukoff said.
Epic Rap Battles of History has been making videos since 2010, although the tone has changed over time. Originally, the content was more lighthearted, but this would later change with the inclusion of political battles such as “Barack Obama vs Mitt Romney” and “Hillary Clinton vs Donald Trump.”
Epic Rap Battle’s History with Trump
Epic Rap Battles of History first introduced the idea of the presidential campaign rap battle with the 2012 video “Mitt Romney vs Barack Obama.” In a historical cameo, Abraham Lincoln appears on a bald eagle to remind viewers of America’s values and rap about both how candidates could do better; the former president suggests that Obama create change instead of simply speaking about it and that Romney treat America as a country rather than a company.
This battle marked the beginning of a tone shift within Epic Rap Battle’s community. Though the battle is evenly matched and both candidates have their fun with Abe Lincoln, the channel would soon become more politically invested in some of their raps. Branching off from this, Ebenezer Scrooge would rap against Trump. Lloyd and Shukoff suggest that Trump’s selfishness mirrors the “A Christmas Carol” protagonist, and Trump is presented as a figure beyond saving; however, in 2013, the prospects of a Donald Trump presidency were still a fantasy. This would not be the case two years later.
Epic Rap Battles of History and its writing team get into the mindset of their characters before they write, influencing their character’s phrasing and presentation and bringing the rap to life. As the team addresses Lincoln’s role in the Hillary and Trump battle, it becomes clear that their process of creating light-hearted but gripping lyrics would not be the same as it had been before.
Shukoff exclaimed that as the writers got into the characters’ mindsets to make lyrics, the writing staff realized that, “When it came time to understand Donald Trump, it was a dark place.” Donald Trump had been accused of many offensive comments and unethical actions, most of which had been caught on camera. Thus, as Shukoff explained, the battle was “tough to spoof” because “it was a dark, sick joke.”
How Lincoln Sparked Another Civil War in Trump’s America
The portrayal of Lincoln in the “Donald Trump vs Hillary Clinton” rap battle reveals how the team’s creative approach changed in the time of Trump. The 16th president’s political stances on the candidates have shifted drastically. No longer is Lincoln nudging candidates in a light-hearted tone as he had with Obama and Mitt Romney. Now, his verses express clear disgust with both political parties, stating that he’s “heard more thoughtful discussion up in TMZ, and they [Hillary and Donald] have got more brother blocking brother on their Facebook feed” — a clear nod to how they are both breaking America’s unity.
As Lincoln’s verse continues, he expresses disdain for Trump’s portrayal of the Republican Party — his party — stating that “If this is the best my party gets then my party should quit.” As Hillary laughs at his line, Lincoln turns his attention to her, saying “to wipe that creepy-ass smile off your face and beat this dummy.”
In Lincoln’s rhymes, it’s easy to see how the Republican Party has changed. Democrats and Republicans switched platforms during the 1960s, and it’s easy to see which current party the Republicans of old would align with. Lincoln reminds Donald Trump “to be a man and hold the door, don’t get your fans stirred up in some sort of Twitter civil war,” before he slaps Trump twice.
The slaps led to a backlash because some thought that the fact that Lincoln refrained from hitting Hillary showed bias. Lloyd and Peter were concerned by the unexpected audience reaction. Skukoff remarked, “We were isolated in our Los Angeles world and weren’t aware of the anger in the country.”
Lloyds and Peter’s thoughts on the outcome of the 2016 election also prevented them from rapping one of their most popular raps, “Adolf Hitler vs. Darth Vader.” Shukoff said that the piece could be funny only if there was a universal understanding that oppression was bad. After witnessing the re-emergence of alt-right and white supremacist rhetoric, he thought the sketch was no longer appropriate.
As the 2020 election approached, fans speculated over whether or not Lincoln would make another appearance and if he did, what would the progressive minds of Epic Rap Battles of History have him say?
How Epic Rap Battles is Addressing Biden Vs Trump
As America rounds the final week of October and enters the final few days before the 2020 Presidential Election, The Epic Rap Battles of History released “Joe Biden vs. Donald Trump” — without Abraham Lincoln.
Some fans who have long awaited this battle were disappointed by the absence of Honest Abe, but the battle still includes compelling lyrics addressing the possible repeal of Roe v. Wade, the Black Lives Matters Movement and Trump’s impeachment, continuing the creative spirit of the channel. While Lincoln himself is no longer included, the channel collaborated with a project that bears his name and continues his values.
Lloyd Alquist collaborated with YouTube channel Rhyme Combinator and The Lincoln Project, an organization keen on protecting democracy, to show the views of some Republicans on Trump and his policies.
The resulting video, “Reagan vs. Trump Debate,” addresses how different Republican Party members view Donald Trump’s presidency, including Ronald Reagan. Reagan ultimately concludes that America “has made it through darker times, as a party, as a union. If you can conjure my spirit, you can conjure a solution.”
The Epic Rap Battles and Rhyme Combinator channels both remind viewers to vote. As both channels make their appeals, America has just a few more days until Nov. 3. With the need for change, and the call for strength and unity even greater, it becomes pressing that America’s greatest battle won’t be the election itself, but the division within the American public.
With America’s future on the line, one of the biggest changes the American public can make is holding its leaders accountable through voting and advocacy. Voting is one way many people voice concerns over issues such as taxes, immigration and civil liberties. Voice your opinion during this election by voting for the future you want for this troubled country.