Battle Rap Origin - Norse Gods
Have you heard of a battle rap before? If not then this type of rap is when two or more people exchange insults and other boastful words while rapping on the spot. And if you’re a sensitive person, it’s best not to take part in something like this because the words that can come out of the mouth of some participants can go below the belt and you don’t want to go through that, right?
In this regard, there’s no denying that quick witty exchanges of raps are entertaining to watch and hear, but did you know that a battle like this was mentioned in Norse mythology and was said to be the origin of this type of rap. Yes, you read that right! With that said, let’s now talk about battle raps in Norse mythology.
Battle Raps - Norse Edition
Battle raps was known as "flyting" in Norse mythology and this was actually traced from the Old English word "flītan" which means quarrel. Today those who joined battles like this usually take part to show off their spontaneous and creative rapping skills, but this is not the case with Norse Gods. They took part in flying in a feasting hall while people were drinking and eating, and the goal of this battle rap was to accuse someone of sexual perversion and cowardice.
Two of the most popular flytings were in Lokasenna and Hárbarðsljóð Hárbarðsljóð (poems of the Poetic Edda).
The flyting in the Lokasenna poem involved Loki and other gods in the hall of Aegir (Norse Ruler of the Sea). During this battle, Loki (Norse Trickster God) Loki accused Norse Gods for being biased and dishonest. On the other hand, the flyting in the Hárbarðsljóð poem involved Thor (Norse God of Thunder) and an obnoxious ferryman named Hárbarðr, or also known as "Greybeard”. So what happened was that Thor was wearing a beggar’s costume while returning to Asgard ( the dwelling place of the gods, comparable to the Greek Mount Olympus). The rude ferryman then saw Thor and prevented him from crossing the river by starting a flyting. Of course Thor became mad and furious and fought back with insults until he was finally let go after the ferryman said his last curse to him.
So that’s just two of the best known flytings in Norse mythology. What we can learn from this is that the Vikings were not just all about physical prowess, they were also capable of showing off their intellectual superiority by taking part in flytings or what we all know today as battle raps.