The Origin of Battle Rap (Hint: Norse Gods)

Posted by Ms Elly on

The Origin of Battle Rap (Hint: Norse Gods)

Battle Rap is a kind of rap including boasting words and insults exchanged. The interesting fact is that there appeared a type of battle rap in Norse mythology. 

In Norse mythology, battle rap was known as "flyting". The meaning of "flyting" can be traced back to the Old English word "flītan" quarrel. To be specific, flyting was a ritual in which many mythological figures took part in exchanging poetic insults. Unlike today battle rap which competitors join mainly to compete for their rapping skills, flyting happened just because mythological figures wanted to make accusations of cowardice and sexual perversion. The flyting would happen in a feasting hall where many people were drinking and enjoying the party. Materials of both Norse mythology, Celtic, and Anglo-Saxon literature showed that flyting was carried out by both historical and legendary figures. 

Two famous times then flyting took place in Norse mythology were in Lokasenna and Hárbarðsljóð. 

Lokasenna was Loki's flyting. It revolved around Loki and other gods and it happened in the hall of Ægir the sea jotun. In Lokasenna, Loki accused Norse gods of their shortcomings such as dishonest behavior and bias. This practice of insult exchanging was believed to be the very first sign of Ragnarok Doom of Gods.

Image of Norse mythology flyting rap battle

Freya and Loki in a flyting

Hárbarðsljóð was a flyting between Thor and a ferryman who looked down on Thor for wearing beggar's costume. While Thor was returning Asgard, he encountered a ferryman named Hárbarðr "Greybeard". Hárbarðr prevented Thor from crossing a river and started the flyting by saying Thor was miserable. The two exchanged boasting lines and insults until Hárbarðr cursed Thor and let him go. 

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