Winner: Loaded Lux
Year: 2012

Rap battles are nothing if not theatrical: they're cousins to spoken-word performances where silences matter as much as the words emphasized. Perhaps the figure who understands this idea most is Loaded Lux, who, in coming out of retirement to battle Calicoe, led an entire funeral party onto the stage of New York's Webster Hall.

Shrouded in black, Lux's posse of mourners turned the place into a Baptist hall screaming "Amen!" and "Hallelujah!" and allowing the soon-to-be dead to find peace-or whatever. Yes, it was literal and overwrought; sure, it pandered. But it sold his lines: as he sliced up Calicoe with his words, the women swooned, bursting into hysterics. (Note: Calicoe, it should be said, wore a T-shirt.)

It wouldn't have amounted to much had Lux not had the lines to back him up, but "You gon' get this work" has become an everlasting catchphrase. As if Lux didn't make it enough of a scene, Diddy, Busta Rhymes, Q-Tip and Lloyd Banks hung over the balconies, clutching their mouths as the two rappers went at one another.