Who Really Freestyles These Days?
Once upon a time, in a land not too far away, rappers used to rap off the dome. I know it sounds crazy, but back in the day the freestyle was the sign of a truly dope emcee. When a rapper was told to kick a freestyle, best believe that it was something made up on the spot. But somewhere in the mid 90s, the definition of freestyle changed to a written rap that nobody has heard before over a beat.
Where the hell was I when this happened?
Somewhere between the influx of mixtapes and rappers hitting the booth with Big Tigger, hip-hop redefined what a freestyle was and nobody put up a debate. It used to shock me when Tigger would bring artists to Rap City and decimate them with his own freestyles versus their written rhymes in the booth. But what used to shock me more was how some of these rappers would front like it was really a freestyle. If so, how does your whole crew know what you are going to say before you say it? Who has freestyles with ad-libs? Apparently, no rapper wanted to be made a fool of in the booth for his inability to rap completely off the top. So instead, they’d pull out one of their unheard verses and kick it like it was off the top.
Now, I’m not going to say I’m mad at the rappers who don’t freestyle, but to actually call it a freestyle is a slap in the face to artists like Supernatural who really spit off the head—and its dope! I’d much rather call these written rhymes that aren’t really a song something else. Just don’t insult me and other artists who are skilled in this facet by calling it a freestyle. That’s like imitation versus real cheese. Don’t try to play me, I know the difference. Drake kicking rhymes off of his Blackberry? Come on now.
It’s okay to show up with your rhyme in your head. Call it an exhibition of your skill set. But as long as artists such as Wordsworth, KRS-One, Skillz, Juice, Eyedea, Serius Jones, Eminem and a slew of others can impressively rhyme about anything at anytime, I’d prefer that we don’t continue to call it a freestyle.
Just something to think about.