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Austin-based rapper to represent Texas at national rap battle

Jordi is an Austin-based rapper set to represent Texas at the 2021 Red Bull Batalla. (Jordi)

"Muchos hablan, pocos riman, solo los mejores improvisan" ("many speak, few rhyme, only the best improvise,") is what they say at the Red Bull Batalla, the world's largest Spanish freestyle rap competition, where Texas-born Jordi Esparza will represent Austin as one of 16 MCs in the U.S. finals.

One of 36 rappers chosen from hundreds of applications, Esparza, who uses Jordi as his stage name, was chosen to compete on Sept. 18 in Los Angeles for the 15th annual finals.

And the pressure is on. Red Bull Batalla is one of the most-watched music events of the year, counting 1.5 million concurrent viewers at the 2020 finals. Esparza had already placed third at the 2020 National Finals, automatically securing the 22-year-old a spot in the 2021 finals.

Going to the finals again is a dream come true for Esparza—a pinnacle that he said he won't know how to top.

"Red Bull Batalla is the biggest thing I want to do," Esparza told Austonia. "I don't know what the next mission is."

Eagle Lake, Texas, born and Torreón, Mexico, raised, watching "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air" is how Esparza spent most of his days. The show's theme song was what originally got Esparza interested in rap, and he even recorded his first freestyle to the tune of the theme song on an MP3 player in 2012.

"I remember the intro, you know, perfect lyrics and good tongue," Esparza said. "I remember when I was a kid, I removed the words from the song and I put in my part."

Esparza moved back to the U.S. in 2015, first to Dallas for a year and then to Austin, where he started to work in landscaping.

The first rap battle Esparza saw on TV planted a seed—he had never seen a rap battle outside of a movie. A YouTube search led him to stumble upon the Red Bull Batalla, where he would take the stage and win at GVK with La Liga De La Calle for the first time in 2018.

"I remember the first year really feeling so bad—a lot of nerves," Esparza said, despite his win. "This year, I don't know why but I feel so relaxed, so happy, I just want to enjoy everything. I'm going to enjoy my dream and I think I'll do a good job."

This Batalla will be a renewed chance at the title for Esparza and an internationally acclaimed award for Austin. Though he's nervous for the final, where he'll battle another rapper in 60-second intervals, Esparza said he's determined to stay in his zone.

"When you take the mic and you say the first words, everything is just you and your mind and the other guy, and you don't feel anything," Esparza said. "Maybe in the future, I can leave my job and I'll make a living doing freestyle."


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