Red Bull Batalla’s Yartzi & Reverse Discuss 2022 Freestyle Competition


Yartzi & Reverse are two of the best freestyle emcees in the world and they are champions in Red Bull Batalla, and international rap battle.

Red Bull Batalla is back. Last year, Reverse took the championship stateside and the year before, the winner was Yartzi. Both men are fierce competitors that have their sights on winning again in 2022. However, their hopes and dreams extend beyond the illustrious competition. An international affair, Batalla represents the single most important Spanish-language freestyle battle.

Last year, US Red Bull Batalla hit an apex when 16 freestyle of the Latino Hip-Hop diaspora, from all over the nation, duked it out lyrically. Reverse ( @reverse_tcr ), an Orlando, Floridian of Cuban descent, emerged victoriously. He went on to Chilé to compete in the international finals. Yartzi (@yartzirial) is a 2x Red Bull Batalla Champion that is no slouch on the freestyle side.

Both men talk to Chuck “Jigsaw” Creekmur to explain how this year’s competition can be the best yet. For more, head over to the official Red Bull Batalla site.

AllHipHop: So how do each of you feel about going back into this, really competitive, lyrical battlefield again?

Reverse: It’s always, every year is a different challenge, different places, different faces, different strategies, different circumstances. So it’s always a new, a new challenge. It’s always a new platform for us to get better. For us to try new things. So it’s always a new experience. I’m always looking forward to it. Battling is something that’s in our blood. We always have that competitive spirit and we’re always looking forward to that challenge. So I think personally for me, I’m just waiting for the moment, for this year in Batalla or out of Batalla, but this is going to be a year of a lot of battles, a lot of motivation, and hopefully, we can get a few wins this year.

Yartzi: For me this year is trying to show the best version of me that I have ever shown. I think the last year I could show kind of that version, but I wasn’t able to show it to the maximum. My goal for this season if you want to call it like that, is to get the next level, the light that I know that I’m ready to get, and show it to people because I know I have it, but I haven’t shown it yet.

AllHipHop: How competitive are you guys? Each of you has won this battle and it seems like you’re cool and everything, but how fierce is your rivalry? If there is one.

Yartzi: Between us?

AllHipHop: Yeah.

Yartzi: I mean…

Reverse: I don’t have none.

Yartzi: It’s a normal rivalry. If there’s with anybody else, anybody else that’s in front of us, it’s like that. I think the rivalry is more of the followers that have like established the rivalry more than even us. But that’s also a good narrative. People like that and people tend to make up the rivalries they want. And they enjoy it because people make up rivalries that are classics to them that are worth it to them. So it’s a good thing. It’s a good thing they see us that way and it also gives a great narrative for the years to come because it’s never good to, at least in my case, it’s never good to always be the favorite one. We always want to have someone that can also get our level that can give us that fight, that’s fighting too for the championship and has the same mentality and the same strength…

Reverse: Same mentality.

Yartzi: The same hunger to win. And it’s always cool. At least personally, I don’t think at least on my side and he also says that his side is the same. We don’t have a rivalry, but if it comes down to that and the people make it that way, then I’m up for it.


I just let people do whatever they want to think about bottles. I don’t decide that I should get up there. My mentality is more about competing against myself. I try to be my best rival. And then there’s other guys that are really good. And when there’s two guys good people are always going to compare, people are always going to just put them together and do that game, but that’s a part of the show. That’s a real thing, that’s a fact.

AllHipHop: Cool, cool. What can predict differently this year in 2022?

Reverse: I think the biggest distance is that there is going to be regional tournaments, which makes everybody that wants to qualify to the national have to win in their own city. You can’t directly classify. That makes a whole difference because that means that yes can get in, for example, but he has to go to a regional tournament and get the place in the national tournament. So that means he has to battle two times. I think that can affect most people, a lot of people that the years before got in the national tournament, just cause they send in a good video, now have to send a good and win the regional tournament to get to the national. So I think that’s going to level up the national competition since the best of each state are going to go for real cause they’re going to win, they’re real too.

Yartzi: Yeah. And also on another perspective, every year the competition gets better because every year the competitors get more experience. Every year they come in with more experience, with more motivation, with different goals, and different strategies. And if the ball keeps rolling, they’re going to keep getting better and better. And hopefully every year the competition is tougher. It’s tougher and we start seeing new faces. We start seeing new levels and hopefully, in the years to come, it’s going to just go up.

AllHipHop: Yeah. Speaking of that, this is obviously a global challenge. It is globally unified through the language. You’re both in Florida, so how difficult is it to take that spirit to the international community? Are there any unique challenges there?

Reverse: There’s a bit of the world. I think you have to think it in a way, winning someone there it’s winning another guy that won all the guys in its country. That’s a big thing.

There’s no bad people in the international. If someone do bad, they probably not bad they just had a bad moment but that’s that. That’s how it is. And I think me and him, we both got to the same place.

Yartzi: Quarterfinal.

Reverse: Quarterfinals. And I think we both have the same sensation as I have heard him talk that, there’s a luck to get in a good position because he went against the champion in 2019, then 2020 was COVID and I was there under a surgical treatment that made me, unable to breathe. I was taking steroids before I went to the stage.

So I think my reason to want to win again this year is trying to go in my perfect condition and my best shape of, and be like “Okay, so this is what I’m capable of.” I think we both have that sensation in international terms.

Yartzi: Yeah. And also in the US scene, I think it’s one of the scenes where the participants go into the competition with the most motivation. Because it’s different in the other places, in the other countries where Batalla is already something that’s established that has a lot of years. And there’s also a lot of competitions weekly in all these countries that keep the participants fresh, keep them like having different opportunities. And since this is the thing that’s basically new in the US, maybe we don’t have like the same opportunities as much as people in other countries.

So the mindset of Latin freestylers living in the US is, well, you get a chance you have to take it or leave it. There’s a pressure that you have to go and do your best and take advantage of it. So over here, the freestylers are conscious of that. And every time they get an opportunity, they go out and give their 200%.

AllHipHop: How did your lives change, if at all, when you became the US champs. Are you local celebs? Are you international celebrities? I’m just curious if the perception around you changed or actual change.


Reverse: In my case it did it, it did. It changed my life. First of all, my family never took me seriously with music or anything. Winning the national tournament made them see it another way. My local friends, I live in a town. It’s after I won that, especially after I came back from Chile (everybody noticed). Yeah, it has been different. People see you differently, everybody from my old school they know what I do. They try to contact me back. It does change. But at the same time, it was a set for me. It was like “Okay, so now this is how it should be.” Because I was looking for it. So it’s not in a bad way for me.

Yartzi: Yeah. Red Bull is the most mainstream, like Batalla is the most mainstream competition. So it’s the one that gives you the most exposure. It’s the one that has the most ways to get some real promo on your back. So to let people over there, know what you do. Also when you win in Batalla, it also gives you a chance to become a part of like the Red Bull family overall. And that changes a lot of things because Red Bull has a way to how they say “Give you wings.” That actually is true because once you’re in the family, any idea you have, you present it to them, they follow it up. They help you come through with those ideas. So in that way, it does change your life. The exposure changes your life, the winning it changes your life.

Yartzi: Once you win, it gives you a lot of different opportunities to keep working on what you love. Like anything that’s music wise, things that have to do with Batalla, things that go around it. And yeah it’s a big opportunity. And what comes after it is pretty big.

AllHipHop: Are you preparing anything differently this year?

Yartzi: I haven’t started to prepare yet. In a career sense, not so much in a free style shape sense, be ready for changes and having my music ready, having my dates ready, all of that. But once the competition starts to come close, of course, I think this year, the difference that I’m going to take it more professional. I want to prepare more for it since last year I went to it, but I went with no much faith because I, as I told you, I wasn’t in good health, but this year I am. So I will take my fullest to it and try to get it the title two times.

Reverse: Oh there is only so much you can do. The normal thing to prepare is just train and try to freeze out, do some formats, to keep your mind quick. That’s something that always comes in handy and helps you prepare. That’s something that’s easy for us. But I think for me, the most important thing is I get staying ready mentally, going there and being in the best shape I can.

AllHipHop: Do you get unlimited Red Bull to drink?

Reverse: Yeah we do. We do like every second we need a Red Bull, we can have a Red Bull.

Photos: Aldo Chacon / Red Bull Content Pool