Peter Shukoff and Lloyd Ahlquist are two breakout stars of the YouTube era, co-creators of Epic Rap Battles of History, which stages fantastical smackdowns in musical rhyme. Using fact-based lyrics, the show pits historical and pop figures against each other. Recent match-ups include Abe Lincoln vs. Chuck Norris and Nikola Tesla versus Thomas Edison. The show has amassed a huge following, and even though the duo is slapstick in nature, their work often tackles serious topics.
The duo first bonded over their love of freestyle rapping about 10 years ago at a party, Shukoff told Billboard in an interview. They then started making videos for their YouTube channel. The first video, John Lennon vs Bill O'Reilly, caught on but it was their second video that really took off, featuring Darth Vader vs Hitler.
This battle is notable as marking a shift in the tone of ERB's work as it became more politically invested in its content. Although the raps are light-hearted, the writers get into their character's mindset and this shows in their performance.
The raps contain a lot of cursing with many f-bombs and the occasional slur. Typically the battles are PG-13 to PG levels of profanity with the occasional blasphemy and some use of the n-word. The raps are also heavily edited so that there is little to no nudity, sex or violence. This is a great way to introduce children to the world of history in a fun and entertaining way.