In 2009, Deadliest Warrior released on Spike. It tried to determine which ancient or modern warrior would win in a fight, factoring in each warrior’s respective “history, culture, and general fighting philosophy” as well as the deadliness of their weapons.
In a way, ERB does the same thing. But instead of determining who would win in a fight between Attila the Hun and Alexander the Great, they’re determining who would win in a rap battle.
Instead of combat readiness, ERB’s (Epic Rap Battles of History) warriors fight with clever prose and devastating insults. The people stepping into the verbal ring are historical and fictional—from Lara Croft vs. Indiana Jones to Mitt Romney vs. Barack Obama.
And either way, it’s going to get brutally personal.
Peter Shukoff and Lloyd Ahlquist, the creators of ERB, do their research. The characters in their videos will often reference moments, beliefs and more that make up each other’s lives. As such, viewers might be compelled to learn more about each person or, at least, will appreciate the complex lyrics ERB wrote to bring about those references.
Make no mistake; ERB is not for kids—or even teens, for that matter. If YouTube channels received MPA ratings, ERB would get an R.
Characters will use all sorts of profanity, including the n-word, the f-word and various crude words that reference genitalia.
Additionally, we’ll hear a lot of references to sexual situations or body parts. Female characters tell other people to perform oral sex on them. Someone talks about breaking the hymen. Other characters reference orgasms and masturbation. Some female characters wear clothes that reveal cleavage.
There’s other content, too. One character, Moses, is played by Snoop Dogg, and he’s seen smoking and making crude references while women in lingerie dance behind him. Likewise, in a video that pits Adam against Eve, their crude rap is filled with sexual references. And Mother Teresa and Joan of Arc are paired up against sexual people. Someone calls himself a god.
There are also some violent references, including some comments Hitler makes while rapping against Darth Vader. Someone alleges a prominent political figure was in league with convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein. And in Oppenheimer versus Thanos, we hear references to how both men caused a lot of deaths.
The channel’s various political rap battles rely on heavy stereotypes of the figures.
Anything goes on ERB, but the status quo should inform parents that it’s not a channel they’ll want their kids watching. We’ll give credit to MCs Shukoff and Ahlquist for their skill in writing such complex lines (and, we’ll be honest, some pretty solid disses). But looking at this from a content perspective, those lyrics leave us with a whole lot of issues.
Kennedy Unthank studied journalism at the University of Missouri. He knew he wanted to write for a living when he won a contest for “best fantasy story” while in the 4th grade. What he didn’t know at the time, however, was that he was the only person to submit a story. Regardless, the seed was planted. Kennedy collects and plays board games in his free time, and he loves to talk about biblical apologetics. He doesn’t think the ending of Lost was “that bad.”