Let’s uncover every aspect of beatbox battles.
Battles have been a core tenet of beatbox, ever since the early days of hip-hop, where beatboxers like Rahzel traveled around New York City to battle it out and conquer new territories to earn the respect of his peers.
Since then, the art of beatbox battles continued to innovate and evolve. Beatbox Battle TV, founded by BeeLow from Germany, brought these battles to the digital space by hosting the very first beatbox battle world championship and uploading it to YouTube in 2005.
Today, International and national battles are hosted all around the world annually, with communities growing left and right. There’s quite a bit going on in the beatbox world, so this guide will cover all aspects of beatbox battles including the most notable tournaments, HBB standard rules, judging criteria, rules, etiquette, and resources.
Beatbox Battle World Championships
The BBBWC was founded in 2005, which was held in Kohlrabizirkus Leipzig under the umbrella of the Hip Hop World Challenge Music Festival in conjunction with the DFB Kultur Stiftung for the 2006 FIFA World Cup.
This tournament is lead and hosted by BeeLow, the founder of Beatbox Battle Networks, who is recognized as one of the most influential figures in the scene today. Beatbox Battle TV continues to showcase national tournaments from all around the world and hosts the World Championships every three years in Berlin, Germany.
To qualify to enter the tournament, beatboxers must either be a nationally recognized Beatbox Champion, win a wildcard through online submission, or be personally invited by the Beatbox Battle World Championship committee.
Grand Beatbox Battle
Dubbed as the ‘annual world championship,” the Grand Beatbox Battle is hosted by Swissbeatbox, an extremely popular YouTube network for beatboxers. This tournament is run in partnership with the B-Scene music festival in Basel, Switzerland every March.
This is an invite-only tournament, where top beatboxers from all around the world are chosen to compete. There are also opportunities for wildcard video entries, which are video submissions by aspiring competitors to take part in the event.
In the solo (1 vs. 1) battles, all invited contestants are given 4 minutes to perform a showcase, where they are pitted up and ranked against all other showcases. The top 8 are then chosen and seeded for the elimination bracket, though in some years it was limited to only the top 4.
The GBBB also hosts Tag Team (2 v 2) battles along with loopstation battles.
Online Beatbox Battles
There are numerous tournaments that are held on online servers, most notably through Discord and TeamSpeak. We at HBB host the “Online Beatbox World Championships” in November of each year along with casual battles hosted every Friday on our channel. You can read more here.
The beatbox-rap community hosts daily tournaments along with a tournament called “BBX KINGS,” where the top-ranking competitors from the daily battles are pitted against each other in a bracketed tournament. You can find out more here.
Other notable battles
There are other notable international battles held beyond national championships.
La Cup hosts international battles with semi-unconventional rules, designed by fellow beatboxers to add new challenges, such as a chess-style alternating timing system.
The All-Star battle is comprised of only showcase rounds and no 1 on 1 battles.
The Beatbox Shootout Battle is a Western cowboy-themed battle hosted by Vokal.Total as part of the a capella tournament.
The Asia championships are held in Taiwan and organized by a coalition of TWBeatbox, HKBeatbox, and Beatbox Japan.
Judging Criteria | HBB Standard
The HBB Standard Judging Criteria provides a unified and consistent order for judging beatbox battles. The four criteria include: originality, musicality, technicality, and showmanship.
Each criteria should be graded on a 1-10 scale per beatboxer per battle round. The total points from both rounds will be counted towards the final score.
Each judge may vote once for contestant A, contestant B, or for a tie where the majority vote wins. A vote for a TIE does not equate to abstaining from a vote, where a majority vote for a tie will proceed with an overtime round.
Originality: New, creative, innovative, thoughtful, bold, adventurous, story-telling
Musicality: Tone, volume, tempo, musical elements, consistent theme, flow
Technicality: Mechanical ability, mic control, complicated structures and time signatures
Showmanship: Well rehearsed, clinical execution, entertaining, confidence, battle mentality
Battle Rules | HBB Standard
The HBB Standard Battle Rules helps create a unified and organized system of beatbox battles. These are the standard rules, where criteria such as time limits are placeholders and should be adjusted accordingly.
Qualification & Seeding
Video entries & wildcards
- Submit with adequate lighting and sound quality
- State name, location, and tournament you are entering
- Length should be 1 minute 30 seconds to 2 minutes not including intro
- Performed in one single take
- No microphone, only acoustic submissions
- No audio or video editing
- Submissions must be emailed to organizer, posted on organizer’s social media pages, and use the necessary hashtags
- The top submissions will be ranked and seeded to proceed into the tournament
- 2 minutes to perform a showcase elimination round and will be cut off exactly at the 2 minute mark
- Will receive a 10 second warning
- Beatboxers may end the round early, but may face point deductions
- The highest ranking elimination showcases will be ranked and seeded for the round of 16
- Thus, 1st place will battle 16th seed, 2nd place will battle 15th, so on and so forth
- If two showcases are equal on points, an impromptu battle will take place for the last spot.
Solos & Tag Team
- Battles will be held in ABAB format
- Each contestant will have two 90-second rounds
- The winner of the coin toss may choose who goes first
- Judges will vote for the winner after both rounds are complete
- If two microphones are used, they will be at the same volume and presets
- A draw will result in one 30-second overtime round where the 2nd contestant goes first
- Loopers must use the Boss RC-505
- Battles will be in ABAB format
- Each contestant will have three minutes per round
- Loopers must perform from scratch
- All pre-recorded loops must be removed
Solo: Solo battles are 1v1 competitions and are also the most prevalent beatbox battle type.
Tag Team: Tag team battles are 2v2 battles where beatboxers team up in a standard beatbox battle format.
Crew: A crew battle is where two teams of 3-5 beatboxers each compete against each other. Each battle usually consists of one round each.
Loopstation: Loopers use an RC-505 to create full musical tracks from scratch in standard beatbox battle format.
Showcase: Showcase battles are where there is no direct face-to-face battle, but competitors or ranked based on their showcase rounds. The All-Star beatbox battle is the most notable battle to do this.
7-To-Smoke: This is a king-of-the-hill battle where the winner stays on. Each beatboxer has one-90 second round where the king goes second. The first beatboxer to win seven battles wins the tournament.
Read more about how 7-to-smoke works here.
Although not explicitly stated most of the time, there are several unspoken rules that battlers should adhere to.
1. Always be respectful
The value of respect sits at the foundation of beatbox and seeps into all the other rules. Battles can get heated, but it’s important to express ourselves through the creation of music and artistic expression, rather than hateful words and racial slurs.
A hug, handshake, or a high-five after the battle also goes a long way, showing that the battle is over and sets an example for those watching online. Good vibes only!
2. Be quiet during opponent’s round
Being silent during the opponent’s round is the greatest sign of respect for the art. It’s okay to joke around and react, but blatantly obstructing and interrupting the opponent’s round is a low blow and will easily lose you the battle.
3. No physical contact
Pretty simple: don’t touch the opponent in a battle. It’s not only distracting, but can also lead to further endangerment. Any malicious behavior like this can lead to disqualification from the entire event and events in the future.
4. Limit obscenities
Beatbox is an art form intended for all ages, and one has to be mindful of the audience. It’s a little tricky to limit the use of profanity or vulgar language, but racist and discriminatory language have absolutely no place in beatboxing. No exceptions.
5. Face each other
A battle is a competition between two competitors, which means you have to show competitive spirit by facing each other and treating it as a battle, not two separate showcases.
6. Leave battles at battles
Battles are only a small portion of beatbox culture. What makes the beatbox family great is the community, which shouldn’t be tarnished by battles. A battle is not an absolute determination of your skill and ability as an artist, so remember to practice hard but also have fun.
Beatbox battles should be an opportunity to hang out with other like-minded creatives like you - so enjoy the whole experience!