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The Hulbert Taft, Jr. Library

Foundations: American Civilizations Rap Battle: Home

Your Assignment

In groups of 3, you will write and submit a historical rap battle (back-and-forth between two historical figures, civilizations, etc.). The lyrics that you compose should be the product of thoughtful scholarly research (you will use library resources). The lyrics and footnotes should demonstrate strong command of available evidence and understanding of historical context and larger significance.

Potential Matchups

  • Moctezuma v. Cortes
  • Aztec v. Sparta
  • Maya v. Han China
  • Inka v. Aztec


  • 1:00-2:00 minutes long, when spoken
  • Groups of 4 are allowed, but will have increased requirements
    • 1:20-2:00 minutes long, when spoken
    • 4 different sources (same as groups of 3)
    • 5 footnotes
  • Must be submitted to PowerSchool


  • Compose original lyrics
  • Annotate lyrics with footnotes
    • Footnotes should contain detailed explanation of your choice of lyrics
    • Lyrics should contain a minimum of 4 footnotes of 3-5 sentences
  • Lyrics should be historically accurate
  • Lyrics must be appropriate-language and tone must be clean and respectful. Do not appropriate other cultures or civilizations by making assumptions about their people - again, ground the content of your lyrics in historical fact.


  • Minimum of 4 different sources
    • 2 must be from reference sources from the library- one for each side of the matchup.
    • 1 must be a direct quote from a primary source
  • Must include Chicago style bibliography created using NoodleTools
  • Failure to properly cite your work--or any other form of academic dishonesty, intentional or unintentional--is a serious offense that has the potential before the Honor Court. Please make sure you are giving credit for anything that is not your own.

Bonus points if you record your lyrics!

  • 2 bonus points for polished audio submitted as an MP3
  • 3 bonus points for a polished video


The following excerpt is taken from “Epic Rap Battles of History.” The annotation is my own. More examples can be found online.

“Gandhi v. Martin Luther King Jr.”

Epic rap battles of history!

Martin Luther King! versus! Gandhi!



You want to battle wits? See who’s a better pacifist

I fought the caste system, but you still cannot touch this

Slumdog skillionaire, first name Messiah

Raps so hot I spit yoga fire

Everything you preach, I said it first

You should just jot down these words, plagiarize my whole verse

Leave your thoughts on the door like the real Martin Luther

I’m not thinking you shall overcome this Junior

[Martin Luther King Jr.:]

I’m the King of civil rights from the city to suburbia

No shoes, no shirt, but I’m still gonna serve ya

Make you swallow your words so you can break the fast

Then thank God almighty, you can eat at last

I admire the way you broke the British power

But I have a dream that one day you’ll take a shower

Like the H in your name, you ought to remain silent

Flatten your style like bread, Naan-violence