If you were listening to hip-hop in the late ’90s, there was no way you could escape hearing some kind of Eminem freestyle. Much of it was via Tim Westwood’s London radio show. Plenty of emcees visited Westwood’s studio, and still do (including Em himself), but if you have a copy of some of Em’s potent verses from those recordings, then you have a piece of history. (These days, you can find a lot of Em’s early material online.)
Westwood has been dropping “rare” freestyles from his archives for a little while now, and this week is no different, with the DJ releasing this just unearthed session with Eminem and late rapper Proof. The Detroit duo go back and forth over several beat changes from Westwood for almost 13 minutes. You may have heard some of Em’s material before — this was just before his major label debut in 1999 — but Proof’s raps are the real gem here. Proof was a definitive maestro when it came to freestyling, and his solo effort, Searching for Jerry Garcia, is a seriously underrated and under-appreciated album. Check out the unedited freestyle below, and remember back when hip-hop was all about the lyrics.