As made evident with the mass popularity of K-pop and reggaeton, language is not a barrier in pop music. Artists and bands such as BTS and Bad Bunny, whose 2021 concert tickets are on resale for $18,000, are proving that fans can enjoy music regardless of their language.
This is also becoming the case with hip-hop music.
2020 marked the 15th year of the Red Bull Batalla Spanish freestyle rap competition, where 25-year-old Eder “Rapder” Lozano took the crown. We caught up with Rapder while he was visiting Dallas for Jam Battles Final Nacional Estados Unidos.
Born and raised in Guadalajara, Rapder first discovered hip-hop at age 10, and became largely inspired by the likes of 50 Cent, Nas and Spanish rap group Violadores de Verso. He was introduced to the art of freestyle rap at the age of 15 by a neighborhood friend.
“It's an up-and-down of emotions,” Rapder says of freestyling. “You're feeling your emotions, but you're also feeling your opponent's emotions.”
Fans can witness these emotions in a documentary called Imparables: Red Bull Batalla, which is streaming on Red Bull’s website. The documentary offers an inside look at Batalla’s shift to a virtual competition amid the COVID-19 pandemic, and shows Rapder defeating Batalla’s reigning champion and becoming the world freestyling champion.
He first heard of Batalla around 2013, when he discovered videos of the competition on YouTube.
“At the beginning, my family and friends were a little bit more hesitant about me joining Batalla,” Rapder says. “Mexico has a negative stigma around rap, but now after seeing my success in the past couple of years, they're definitely more encouraging and supportive of my career.”
Rapder is working on an album, which he plans to release in July. While he's proven his freestyling skills onstage, he prefers to write lyrics down while in the studio.
“Leaving a message behind the song is very important for me,” Rapder says. “So it's not necessarily the same as performing live.”
During his visit to Dallas, Rapder says he enjoyed eating at Whataburger. He also liked the fact that while the city is filled with skyscrapers, it doesn’t feel like they’re “muffled” in a big city. Although Rapder is quickly becoming an international sensation, he says he plans to “live and die” in Guadalajara.
When he’s not making music, Rapder spends time with his girlfriend and his golden retriever and watching documentaries and conspiracy theory videos on YouTube.
As is true in any form of art, Rapder says, the key to success in freestyle rap is practice.
“One day, you're going to be at the top, another day, you can be at the bottom,” Rapder says. “but with practice and consistency, that's how you can get to Batalla.”
Often energetic and competitive with his freestyle raps, Rapder plans to be more cathartic with his own musical projects. He finds comfort in making music, as it allows him to explore a wide range of emotions.
“Music is a way for me to calm myself,” Rapder says. “The best way for me to compare it is to a house with multiple rooms, every room being a different emotion. You have to be comfortable living with all of those emotions.”
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