This Detroit Startup Lets People Rap Battle Each Other Online

Business Insider
Analyzing the top news stories across the web
Sept. 4 2013 1:12 PM

This Guy's Startup Wants to Help Aspiring Rappers Get a Record Deal  

177217330
Eminem performs on August 22, 2013 at the Stade de France, near Paris.

Photo by PIERRE ANDRIEU/AFP/Getty Images

This post originally appeared in Business Insider.

By Megan Rose Dickey

Detroit-based entrepreneur Erik Torenberg, also known as "T-Berg," believes that anyone can have fun rapping. That's why he's launching Rapt.fm into public beta to let people rap battle each other in real-time. Rapt.fm is relatively simple. If you combine a Skype video call, two rappers, hip hop beats, and an audience that votes on the winner, you get Rapt.fm.

Advertisement

So tonight at 9 p.m. Eastern, artists like Soul Khan, Yonas, Big Pooh, Chester Watson, and others will rap live on the site. They may even battle with an audience member. As part of the launch, Rapt.fm and Tommy Boy Records are hosting a rap contest on YouTube where the winner will get a record contract. Tommy Boy has signed hip hop artists like Queen Latifah, De La Soul, and Naughty by Nature.

Torenberg says he believes that aspiring rappers will get discovered on Rapt.fm. The rap tech space got on people's radar around the time when top VC firm Andreessen Horowitz invested $15 million in Rap Genius, a site that helps you understand the meaning behind rap lyrics, poetry, speeches, and books. In Rapt.fm's case, it's looking to raise a $500,000 seed round soon.

Rapt.fm launched an early version in January 2012 to a limited number of people. Up until this point, Rapt.fm users showed a lot of loyalty to the platform, Torenberg says. In July, for example, Rapt.fm had 7,000 users. Sixty percent of them were returning and would spend 25 minutes on average on the site.

In order to practice what the company preaches, Rapt.fm requires all of its employees to rap. They don't have to be great, Torenberg says, but they have to love doing it. "Our goal is to be a tech company and a hip hop collective," Torenberg says. "That everyone in our crew raps and appreciates rap, regardless of skill-level. Imagine Facebook meets the Wu-Tang Clan."

TODAY IN SLATE

Technocracy

Forget Oculus Rift

This $25 cardboard box turns your phone into an incredibly fun virtual reality experience.

The Congressional Republican Digging Through Scientists’ Grant Proposals

The 2014 Kansas City Royals Show the Value of Building a Mediocre Baseball Team

The GOP Won’t Win Any Black Votes With Its New “Willie Horton” Ad

Whole Foods Is Desperate for Customers to Feel Warm and Fuzzy Again

The XX Factor

I’m 25. I Have $250.03.

My doctors want me to freeze my eggs.

The XX Factor
Oct. 20 2014 6:17 PM I’m 25. I Have $250.03. My doctors want me to freeze my eggs.
Politics

Smash and Grab

Will competitive Senate contests in Kansas and South Dakota lead to more late-breaking races in future elections?

I Am 25. I Don’t Work at Facebook. My Doctors Want Me to Freeze My Eggs.

These Companies in Japan Are More Than 1,000 Years Old

  News & Politics
The World
Oct. 21 2014 11:40 AM The U.S. Has Spent $7 Billion Fighting the War on Drugs in Afghanistan. It Hasn’t Worked. 
  Business
Moneybox
Oct. 21 2014 1:12 PM The Global Millionaires Club Is Booming and Losing Its Exclusivity
  Life
The Vault
Oct. 21 2014 2:23 PM A Data-Packed Map of American Immigration in 1903
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 21 2014 1:12 PM George Tiller’s Murderer Threatens Another Abortion Provider, Claims Right of Free Speech
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Oct. 21 2014 1:02 PM Where Are Slate Plus Members From? This Weird Cartogram Explains. A weird-looking cartogram of Slate Plus memberships by state.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Oct. 21 2014 1:47 PM The Best Way to Fry an Egg
  Technology
Technology
Oct. 21 2014 10:43 AM Social Networking Didn’t Start at Harvard It really began at a girls’ reform school.
  Health & Science
Medical Examiner
Oct. 20 2014 11:46 AM Is Anybody Watching My Do-Gooding? The difference between being a hero and being an altruist.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Oct. 20 2014 5:09 PM Keepaway, on Three. Ready—Break! On his record-breaking touchdown pass, Peyton Manning couldn’t even leave the celebration to chance.