The record-breaking digital series “Epic Rap Battles of History” (ERB), created by Peter Shukoff (aka Nice Peter) and Lloyd Ahlquist (aka EpicLLOYD), features comedic rap battles between historical and/or pop culture figures—such as Albert Einstein vs. Stephen Hawking, Mozart vs Skrillex, Steve Jobs vs. Bill Gates and Moses vs Santa Claus. The series, which airs on the YouTube channel /ERB, is currently the most viewed format on YouTube on a per episode basis. The series has over 1.2 billion views and more than 7 million subscribers and due to its popularity has spawned an additional channel — /ERB2 — which features behind-the-scenes content.
Musician, comedian Nice Peter and actor, comedian, and emcee EpicLLOYD first met freestyling on a porch in Chicago. EpicLLOYD recruited Nice Peter to join the improv comedy group Mission IMPROVable, which he helped found at the University of Massachusetts and later expanded across the country. In 2009 the improv group began the M.i. Westside Comedy Theater in Santa Monica, CA and after separate moves to Los Angeles, Nice Peter and EpicLLOYD connected again in the comedy circuit performing at the club.
In 2010 Nice Peter, already a well-established YouTube personality with Maker Studios, suggested that one of the live segments he, EpicLLOYD and MC Mr. Napkins (Zach Sherwin) were performing—an improv rap show that featured comedic, poignant altercations between two characters suggested by the audience—was better suited as a digital format. The duo brought the idea to Maker and hit the ground running with filmmaker Dave McCary. Tapping into his growing YouTube fan base, Nice Peter went to his channel subscribers for potential matchup ideas. Premiering on Nice Peter’s channel in September 2010 as “Epic Rap Battles of History,” John Lennon vs. Bill O’Reilly, the first battle in the series, was an instant hit. It was Episode #2 though, Adolf Hitler vs. Darth Vader that became a viral sensation—with now over 62 million views. After fifteen battles the series ended its first season with The Final Battle: Nice Peter vs. EpicLLOYD and launched Season 2 in December 2011 with a dedicated YouTube channel—/ERB.
“Epic Rap Battles of History” has featured appearances from hugely popular digital stars including LisaNova, Timothy DeLaGhetto, KassemG, Rhett and Link, Prank vs. Prank, George Watsky, Alex Farnham, and DeStorm Power, among others. In addition to the /ERB YouTube channel, the series’ behind-the-scenes channel /ERB2 features vlogs, bloopers, extra footage and more. The ERB official website is another hub for the series while also allows fans to vote for who they think won each battle. YouTube artistic sensation Mary Doodles additionally contributes to the property with her “Epic Rap Battles of History” time-lapse painting and drawing videos. The series has been featured in The Wall Street Journal, LA Times, Wired Magazine, Forbes.com, CNN.com, and The Huffington Post, among others, and generates an unprecedented average of 30 million views an episode. Season 3 premiered on October 7, 2013.