If youre not a hip hop head, you may wonder what is the difference between a freestyle rhyme and a normal song? why is it some true hip hop heads judge the skills of an emcee by their ability to freestyle? even some of the most enthusiastic fans don't understand the power of a freestyle artist on the fan base. ill explain it now and then for your entertainment, ill provide you with actual examples of some freestyles.
now in its infancy hip hop didn't have whats commonly known as production. production came later, so that being said, there was still rap. rapping was how pimps used to brag to each other and poetry was a classy form of conveying deep thoughts. the rap was the original form of battle, and there was no connection between poetry or rap or music. rapping was freestyle. the most combative and trained form of speech was in poetry. when they combined, they were a pretty sophisticated form of verbal combat. they didn't require music so much, as long as there was a beat boxer or at least a tempo to keep. if every culture had a form of combat, freestyle would be to Hip Hop what capoeira is to Afro-Brazil. this right here, is key to understanding why there is a separation between rap and hip hop. if you cant freestyle and you claim to be an emcee, that means you're defenseless in a rap battle, it means you cant defend yourself in hip hop culture on the street. so many try to deflect that fact by talking tough, wearing excess of expensive jewelry and brandishing guns. but freestyle artists are the scary ones, they can destroy your fake emcee reputation. those guys are lethal to a rapper in the hip hop industry. people like: MC Shan, PM Dawn, Vanilla Ice, MC Hammer, Canibus... all lost their fame in lyrical combat.
these two vids show guys who are less than concerned with someone on the street coming up and killing their rep:
• Mos Def
Only the best emcees can freestyle. it takes a mental sharpness that most performers lack. hip hop is by definition "street poetry" and while the definition continually threatens to be changed by the media, they can never take away the fact that people are still doing it correctly and classically. now from time to time you watch shows or listen to recordings where great emcees claim to be freestyling and people yell and scream and rant about how they were the best... then you hear it on their album. cause its not a freestyle. its written. now, i'm about to pull a Neo. i'm going to show you something, something they don't want you to see, and i'm going to let you judge for yourself.
G4 (the geek channel) has a mini-show called [ Freestyle 101 ] i deeply love this show. and what it does is showcase emcees that can freestyle, actually freestyling. these three are some of my favorites: