“…When It’s Time For Me To Spit I Ain’t Writin Ish”
Typically, when I see a track labeled as a “freestyle,” I know it really isn’t.
More than likely, it’s just an impromptu track with no substance, which gets put out because the beat is the flavor of the week. Either a hot rapper blesses it to keep his name fresh or there’s some youngblood who hops aboard to show his worth. Either way, they both generally seem to think of as many punch lines as they can beforehand, then they get up in the booth and lace it.
If they knock it out in a few takes, and it sounds hot, it’s dubbed a “freestyle.”
While that formula can produce good word of mouth for artists, and maybe a track worthy of a CD-R for the fans, it completely devalues the meaning of the word freestyle.
In nature, a freestyle is assumed to be off the top of the head. It’s supposed to be impromptu, putting the rapper on blast in order to showcase their actual ability to spit. In many circles, it’s what that separates the strong from the seven days.
That said; it’s obvious when rappers are loungin’ on Front Street.
We’ve all heard these cats supposedly “freestyling” over Jay’s “Show Me What U Got” beat or “I Get Money.” It doesn’t matter if it’s Wayne, The Game, Chamillionaire or all of D-Block; if their bars are absolutely perfect, it’s probably not a freestyle. Even if they are hidin’ behind the booth, it ain’t hard to tell – Nasir.
If these dudes were lacing it like they used to, back when freestyles meant something in hip-hop, you might actually hear something unique. Maybe you’d hear your favorite emcee stumble on his words, catch himself and then pick it right back up with a style you swear you’ve never heard come out of his mouth. It was something that sounded so good, but for that emcee, so out of the box.
And that’s why I love hearing people actually freestyle.
In a rhyme battle, you’re set apart from your competitors as soon as the lyrics leave your lips. No matter your delivery or how you look, if your words don’t come out right, you lose.
The same should be said for this game we call rap. It’s a competition and there should be a clear-cut winner.
So, to me, rappers “freestyling” these days are no more than nervous emcees continually attempting to up their tallies against the invisible man with some inked punchlines, nonetheless. If they really want to call themselves king of their region or best rapper alive, then they’d quit with the bullshit and freestyle for real.
That’s why I like Crooked I.
His Hip-Hop Weeklys are prime examples of what other rappers would claim as “freestyles.” While to him, all they are is a forum to vent. If he really wanted to freestyle and prove himself, he would.
In this Power 106 freestyle session from a few years back, The Crook does just that.
He shows how a rapper can actually freestyle, slip up and still come out sounding more correct than an Asian kid’s math test. He doesn’t have to fake it. He’s got punchlines, he rhymes multiple syllables in various words and his style switches up more than a high-school student.
And it’s definitely a freestyle.
If you don’t believe me, listen all the way though, and Felli will tell you what’s up.
Crooked I – Power 106 Freestyle (over “Down For My Aggins,” “Boom Boom Clap,” “We Belong Together (Remix),” and “B-Boy Stance”)
The Clipse – Flashing Lights
Young Buck- Mr.Ten A Key
Lil Wyte- Get High
Mya-The Only One
Crooked I – Hip Hop Weekly 24
Ya Boy – I Run The Bay
Bun B Feat. Tucci-U Ain’t Gotta Like Me
Ill Bill – White Nigger
Twista feat R. Kelly- Love Rehab