FlipTop is undeniably an institution in Filipino culture. For the past few decades, the battle rap league has become synonymous with incredible wit, sharp tongues, and rockstar confidence. There’s a reason why it’s the most viewed battle rap league in the world.

In the hip-hop issue of Billboard Philippines, Anygma shares what elevates a battle into the “classic status.” “It takes two to tango. Same goes for making a ‘classic’ battle. Fans definitely will almost always enjoy hard-earned levels of competition over one-sided matches. But besides equally matched high levels of skill, there are definitely many nuances that also lead to making a ‘classic.’ Narratives and storylines like in a tournament setting can help prop up anticipation for certain matches.”

“And if the battle delivers and exceeds expectations, then there is a sort of effect of the anticipation paying off more than it would with a regular battle. Sometimes, actual dislike and disputes between participants also result in a more heated battle. Sometimes, it’s also the one-upmanship of particular techniques, be it speed rapping, variety in flows, who’s funnier, who’s more technical, people also like to see who can out-do who, at what.”

So without further ado and in no particular order, we listed down nine of the best FlipTop battles in history — from Loonie versus Tipsy D to Sak Maestro versus Lanzeta and more.

Loonie versus Tipsy D (Isabuhay 2016 Semifinals)

Yung build up nito sobrang lupet kasi first time considered underdog si Loonie so grabe yung anticipation kung ano ipapakita ng parehas. Parehas top dogs tapos lived up to expectation. Parehas mabigat and creative yung lines pero ultimately, humina si Tipsy D after i-break down ni Loonie yung style ni Tipsy D. Parang ginamit ni Loonie yung style ni Tipsy D against him din kaya maangas. After ng match sabi ni Loonie, “T*ngina mo / ikaw lang pinaghandaan ko nang ganoon.” [It was] very beautiful to see kasi andun yung respect sa isa’t-isa. — Easel Manes

[The build up to this battle was super great because it was the first time that Loonie was considered the underdog, so the anticipation of waiting to see what the other would bring to the battle was high. Both are top dogs and the battle lived up to expectations. Both are heavyweights, and both had creative lines, but ultimately, Tipsy D faltered after Loonie broke down his style. It’s like Loonie used Tipsy D’s style against him. After the match, Loonie said, “F*ck you, this is the only battle I’ve ever prepared this much for.” It was very beautiful because you could see the respect they had for each other.]

Tipsy D versus Sinio (Aspakan 2 2014)

Trip na trip ko ‘to kasi dito ko unang na-discover si Sinio. At this point, alam ko na na may halo talagang humor or comedy pagdating sa FlipTop pero iba pa rin yung epekto ng mga line ni Sinio. I think it has to do sa delivery niya overall na para bang yung mga jokes na binibitawan niya, sobrang natural pakinggan. Ibang iba styles nila ni Tipsy D pero ang solid makita how they managed to keep up with each other tapos good vibes at tawanan lang talaga from everyone. — Mayks Go

[I really like this battle because this was the first time I discovered Sinio. At this point, I knew that FlipTop has elements of humor or comedy, but Sinio’s lines really hit different. I think it has to do with his overall delivery, that the way that he says his jokes is so natural. Sinio and Tipsy D have different styles, but it’s solid to see how they managed to keep up with each other, with good vibes and laughs from everyone.]

Zaito versus Charron (2013)

This isn’t just one of the funniest FlipTop battles ever. Anygma couldn’t have chosen a better person to represent FlipTop in the first ever subtitled or multi-lingual battle. Zaito switching between English, Filipino, Spanish, and Maranao didn’t faze Charron despite the language barrier. Zaito has been known to have a poetic, deep, and witty understanding of the Filipino language, and this battle just highlighted his ability that language is never an excuse to sacrifice the quality of his bars. Well, until it descends into Zaito’s own language. — Kara Angan

Sak Maestro versus Lanzeta (2019)

Parehas magaling pero grabe ang word play ni Sak [Maestro]. One of the few times na preparado siya. Yung crowd reaction maganda despite it being Sak Maestro’s home crowd sa Mindanao. [It was] cool to see rin na halos walang bias pagdating sa reactions. Nagpakita rin ng respect for Sak si Lanzeta sa finishing line niya, which referenced yung iconic “I’m from Mindanao…” line ni Sak. — Easel Manes

[Both are really good but Sak Maestro’s word play was on another level. It was one of the few times that he was prepared. The crowd’s reactions were nice despite it being Sak Maestro’s home crowd in Mindanao. It was cool to see that there wasn’t really a bias when it came to reactions. Lanzeta also paid respect to Sak in his finishing line, which referenced the Sak’s iconic ‘I’m from Mindanao…’ line.]

Loonie/Abra versus Shehyee/Smugglaz (2012 Dos Por Dos Tournament)

It’s not a best of FlipTop list without Loonie/Abra versus Shehyee/Smugglaz at the 2012 Dos Por Dos Tournament. There’s a reason why the video of Loonie, Abra, Shehyee, and Smugglaz breaking the battle down after 12 years is two and half hours long. In my opinion, this battle showcases the best of what makes FlipTop a cut above the rest — over-the-top theatrics, multi-layered and fast-paced bars that should be considered as poetry, and high energy. If you want an introduction to FlipTop, it has to be this. — Kara Angan

Crazymix/Bassilyo versus Loonie/Abra (Dos Por Dos 2012)

Ito unang laban na napanood ko with the duo/tag-team system. I remember sobrang natuwa ako rito kasi dito ko na-realize na ang dami palang styles ng pag-battle rap. And sa gan’tong set-up, if you have the right teammate, iba yung chemistry na nangyayari even if magkaiba styles niyo. Dito rin ata ako na-introduce kay Abra as a battle rapper. I remember tuwang tuwa ako noon kung gaano siya kabilis magbitaw ng mga lines niya on the spot. — Mayks Go

[This was the first time I watched a battle with the duo/tag-team system. I remember that I really loved it because this is when I realized that there are a lot of styles of battle rap. And with this set-up, if you have the right teammate, there’s a different type of chemistry that happens even if your personal styles are different. This is where I was also introduced to Abra as a battle rapper. I remember that I was so impressed with how fast he spits lines on the spot.]

Dello vs Zaito (2011)

Klasik freestyle battle. Sinaunang FlipTop pa ‘to. Sobrang benta ni Zaito pero grabe yung bilis ng rebuttals ni Dello. Isa sa mga matches na naipakita niya kung bakit siya tinaguriang “Hari ng Rebuttal.” — Easel Manes

[This is a classic freestyle battle. This was one of FlipTop’s first battles. Zaito’s bars were really good but Dello’s rebuttals were on a different level. It’s one of the matches where he proved that he’s called the “King of Rebuttal” for a reason.]

Shernan vs Hazky (2019)

This battle definitely played up the theatrical aspect of FlipTop. What makes this battle great is that Shernan and Hazky completely embody the roles of the legal wife and mistress in a way that wasn’t demeaning or undermining to women at all — they played the roles and did it justice, and to top it all off, they didn’t sacrifice the wit and humor that has defined the battle rap league. This is a masterclass in entertainment. — Kara Angan

Loonie versus Aklas (Ahon 5 2014)

I believe itong laban na ’to ata yung unang exposure ko sa Fliptop (this battle was the my first exposure to FlipTop) so many years ago when I randomly clicked on it out of curiosity. Tandaan ko [I remember] it felt like so many things were happening at once. Loonie was dressed like a priest. Si Aklas naman naligo sa beer (Aklas was drenched in beer). Sobrang daming random stuff na nangyari sa laban na ‘to (There were so much random stuff happening in this battle). Aside from that, I like it for a lot of other reasons.

I believe it greatly showcases Loonie’s mastery over wordplay. Para bang nabuksan isip ko sa sobrang daming word combinations na posible pala tapos sobrang witty at nakakatawa pa. Hari ng Tugma talaga. Si Aklas naman, straightforward aggression laban kay Loonie and, while not as technical compared sa kalaban niya, sobrang entertaining pa rin seeing him just shouting and rambling kasi nakakatawa mga pinagsasabi at ginagawa niya [It was like my mind was opened up to the many different word combinations that are possible that are witty and funny. He’s really the King of Rhyme. With Aklas, he mostly showed straight forward aggression against Loonie, and while not as technical compared to his opponent, it was so entertaining to see him just shouting and rambling because what he says and does is so funny].

To this day, binabalikan ko pa rin siya [I still go back to it] for a good laugh. I still think it’s one of the best battles to ever happen, with both of them knowing how to get a crowd going. — Mayks Go

FlipTop is featured in Billboard Philippines’ hip-hop issue, dated April 15, 2024.