#BARS: The Evolution of Battle Rap in the Internet Age

About the author

Ryan O'Leary has spent most of his professional career in the field of sports journalism. He has covered sports at every level from the pros on down over the past two decades in and around Boston, Chicago and Indianapolis as well as at his alma mater, the University of Notre Dame.

He dabbled in hip-hop music in his younger days, recording three rather unremarkable albums — and he also dipped his foot into the battle rap pool, competing in several late-1990s text battles and occasionally getting down on stage in Chicago and elsewhere (though the stage was never really his comfort zone, which is clearly evident if you can find one of his battle videos online). 

The idea for #BARS came about somewhat randomly. While going down a rabbit hole of YouTube battles one night late in 2013, Ryan wondered to himself whether anyone had actually published a history book on battle rap. Unable to find one, he (for some reason) decided that he would be the one to create it. Amazingly, he actually followed through on that decision ... and his lazy ass managed to follow through in less than five years.

Ryan currently works as the sports editor at the Daily Journal in Franklin, Indiana.