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New Mobile App Brings Freestyle Rap Battles to the Masses

Published: Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Updated: Wednesday, November 16, 2011 14:11

Battle rap app

Jump Shot Media

IT Developer Jerald Perry, who moonlights as rapper J Peezy, appears in "Battle Rap Stars," a new freestyle rap game for mobile phones.

Can you spit rhymes better than the Paul Wall? Now is your chance to prove it. "Battle Rap Stars" is a new app that calls out freestyle rappers and lets them battle the pros.

There are plenty of music apps available on iTunes and for Android, but Keith Andrews, president of Jump Shot Media, said there's nothing like "Battle Rap Stars" on the market.

"We took real artists that have fan bases, took their rap, [put] it through our scoring system, assigned it a score, and have people try to rap better than them," Andrews said.

The game analyzes users' creativity, timing, vocal presence and delivery as they freestyle and scores them on a scale of one to five stars. Whether they're beginners or experts, the game will score accordingly. Score high enough and you'll work your way through the competition.

"With rap, it's something completely different, especially with freestyle because there is no baseline. You're measuring something that is completely new," Andrews said.

There are five levels with five rappers ordered by skill level and popularity. J Peezy, Fresh Caesar, Hopsin, Mistah Fab, and grill master Paul Wall are all lined up and ready to take users on, bringing their own unique style to battle.

Andrew's friend Jerald Perry, an IT professional and rapper known as J Peezy, came to him with the idea for "Battle Rap Stars" as an inventive way to promote his music. Together with Courtney Smith as chief creative officer, they used his idea as a jumping off point.

There was no reason to limit themselves to only one person, so they approached rappers who might be interested in the game, and wouldn't mind promoting their music as well.

"We did it really quietly and have been talking to Paul Wall about it for the past year and he fell in love with the technology when he saw the prototype," Andrews said.

The software took two years to develop as experts in audio- and sound-processing got together and discussed the components that make for a rap. They also had to find a way to not only measure them, but score them.

"The passion behind it is crazy," Andrews said. Everyone associated with the game is a fan of rap and they were looking to take it to a whole other level.

Battling is a huge part of freestyle rapping, and Andrews said they fully took that into consideration while creating the game.

"I think this might give battling a whole new life," he said. "Before now, the only way you could battle someone is if you had a group of people together and maybe 20-30 people around you, but now with the internet there's no reason why we can't have that environment, just virtually."

The game takes the role of the deciding factor, spitting out a judgment within seconds based on rhythm, rhyme and vocal presence. Users get 16 bars to take out their opponents and strut their stuff.

"The concept is huge," Andrews said. "We can figure out if a person's rap performance is good or not automatically and without having a crowd of people judging and voting on a winner."

The response has been great. Andrew said people are blown away by the concept and even the group of developers working on the game cannot go a single meeting without battling at least once.

"One of the developers is the best rapper I've seen use the game and he used to listen to country music, but now he's blasting Tupac," Andrews said.

While creating the game, the team decided to go straight for a mobile apps rather than a console game because they noticed consumers drifting more toward mobile gaming. This also works out well for the game, as it can be taken anywhere and used at any time. Even if users are a bit intimidated by freestyling, they can play in "Battle Rap Stars'" karaoke mode and try to reproduce a rap just as they hear it.

Andrews himself said he's gotten more confident in his rap skils due by practicing the game. "I've become a pretty good freestyler, but now I'll bust out a rap in front of anyone on this phone," he said.

As a small company, Jump Shot Media didn't have much capital to begin with, so they met in coffee shops while developing the now-patented software. Andrews had been a music producer before his technical career, and "Battle Rap Stars" allowed him to revisit his passion for beats as a technology expert in Silicon Valley.

He said this is just the beginning of what Jump Shot Media plans on doing with their unique software. Currently, they are going to add on features so users can battle each other and so the game can give better feedback.

"The doors are really starting to open up for us," he said. "Whether it makes a lot of money or not, it doesn't matter because we've had such a fun time doing it."

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