IT'S FREESTYLE SEASON
Recently some of our fave emcees like Tierra Whack, Megan Thee Stallion, DaBaby, Lady London, and even Yung Miami of the City Girls dropped freestyles. A couple of years ago, a certain chipmunk said that this is an art form that only "old heads" were doing. Well, thank Gawwwd; most rappers don't listen to chipmunks. If you were to ask fans would they rather hear their faves next single or freestyle, I would not be shocked if the freestyle won.
"I don't spit that off the top of my head. I can't come up with those punchlines, metaphors off the top of my head" Nicki Minaj
Even though freestyles are still crowd-pleasers, the same old debate often arises when a freestyle gets too much praise. Critics question if it can be considered a "freestyle" if it was written.
FREESTYLE VS. OFF THE TOP
Humans love to simplify shit, which is great in most cases. However, in our haste to simplify everything, we often group together elements with clear distinctions.
When it comes to Hip Hop, Freestyles and Off The Top/Dome have become so entangled that people often mistake the two as being synonymous. That wouldn't be an issue if people's first instincts were to celebrate rappers. However, Hip Hop has changed for the worse within the past four years. Fans have been replaced by STANs, and supporting your fave has morphed into sabotaging the competition.
So, when a popular artist drops a freestyle, and people start celebrating, here comes the "tHaT's nOt a FrEeStYlE. yOu cAn tElL iT wAs wRiTtEn." No shit, Sherlock!
Let's come to an understanding of what a Freestyle actually is because this misunderstanding is nothing new. In 2009, Nicki Minaj received some criticism for writing her BET Cypher freestyle. During an interview with TT Torrez, she responded by saying, "I don't spit that off the top of my head. I can't come up with those punchlines, metaphors off the top of my head." She then gave props to the few who did spit off the top but revealed that most of the rapper's freestyles were written. Obviously, Nicki Minaj received that criticism because her freestyle was one of the most popular, and she is a woman.
WHAT IS A FREESTYLE
LL Cool J said, "Freestylin back in the day was when you write a rhyme and you say it, and then what people call Freestyle now is really what people used to call Off The Top of the head."
LL's explanation shows where the problem started. Someone, somewhere mislabeled emcees just rapping off the top as a "Freestyle." I guess it wasn't a big deal because people could tell which form of "freestylin" was going on and it was about celebrating and competing, not the bullshit of today.
When DMX was asked his definition of a Freestyle he said, "It's not about talking about any particular subject, just talking about how good you are."
I tend to go with their definition of a Freestyle and that is why rapper's Freestylin is often more popular than the songs on their albums. It's them just talking shit without a hook.
Legend Big Daddy Kane echoed LL and DMX's sentiments on Freestyles.
OFF THE TOP RHYMES ON ALBUMS
If we want to be honest, a lot of these rappers are making their songs by rapping off the top and adding a hook. Many of us don't like that because it sounds all over the place, no good punchlines or metaphors, and sloppy.
Now, go off and enjoy these muthfck'n FREESTYLES!!!!
QUIZ: On the first video, who was not Freestyling?
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