Battling is one of the most intriguing linguistic aspects of contemporary hip-hop culture which is a highly competitive and creative style of discourse whose aim is the verbal domination and embarrassment of one’s opponent through a combination of creative rap lyrics and effective delivery. Cipher (or cipha), the streetcorner arena where many battles take place, is referred to as ?the hyperactivated, communal Hip Hop lyrical testing and stomping grounds of verbal mastery (Alim, 2006). Recently, battling has gained widespread recognition as a result of growing interest in hip-hop as a whole. Battle discourse contains intentions to negotiate respect and social status, while simultaneously functioning as a creative outlet for verbal art and craftsmanship. It is an intensely competitive speech genre whose aim is the verbal domination and humiliation of one’s opponents to decrease their status and increase one’s own (Fitzpatrick, 2005).
The notion of status corresponds to the argument for the existence of a ?linguistic marketplace? in which language is rarely used strictly for communicative purposes. Instead, using language becomes a way to accrue social capital or respect, which in turn gives future utterances greater credibility and provides a framework for the incremental accumulation of respect over time (Bourdieu’s, 1991).