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Jordi is an Austin-based rapper who represented Texas at the 2021 Red Bull Batalla. (Esparza)

Austin rapper Jordi Esparza may not have won the 2021 Red Bull Batalla, the world's largest Spanish freestyle rap competition, but for a spirited two rounds, the 22-year old Mexican native looked like he had every right to.

On Saturday evening in Los Angeles, the event itself looked like Cobra Kai meets Star Search with graphics adding a very Batman Beyond aesthetic. Over a dozen rappers hoping to represent the U.S. in the international round of the competition took to the stage with in-your-face jabs at accents, sexual orientation and odors, among other things.

This was Esparza's second rodeo; he had placed third at the 2020 National Finals, automatically securing him a spot this year.

However, things were different this year. He was not nervous about the contest. Unlike in 2020, when he made his Red Bull Batalla debut, the anxiety of the event led him to "feeling so bad."

Affecting a casual calm, the locally-based landscaper said he just felt "so relaxed, so happy" and primarily wanted to "enjoy everything."

Choosing his first-round opponent, Esparza, whose stage name is Jordi, elected to go against LA-based Boss.

Esparza freestyled an attack on his opponent's weight and cholo style of dress.

Boss—bracketing his Latin freestyle with English appeals to the crowd—mocked Jordi's lack of education, made fun of how clean Jordi's shoes looked and suggested that Jordi just came back from a Footlocker.

That first round went to Jordi.

But his next opponent Eckonn would prove to be his undoing.

Eckonn compared Jordi to Hannah Montana, while Jordi soulfully explained that he had learned from the best.

Esparza's verbal dexterity is matched by a rattling rhythm and a game face that is as mawkish as it is mockish. The overall effect is that of an underdog with bite.

Eckonn beat Esparza in that round with the overall championship going to Palm Beach-based rapper Reverse.

However, Esparza was just happy to be there. He recently told Austonia going to the finals again was a dream come true—a pinnacle that he said he won't know how to top.

With his nimble jabs and sneaky prowess, honed from pop culture and the swagger of a young working man hungry to be more, Jordi Esparza is just getting started.


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