Are there benefits to freestyle rapping?
Freestyle is a style of improvisation with or without instrumental beats, in which lyrics are recited with no specific subject, structure. The lyrics are made on the spot, with no prior memorization. It is similar to other improvisational music, such as jazz in which a lead instrumentalist functions as an improviser with a supporting band providing a beat. Improv/freestyles are improvised in this way.
In the book How to Rap, Big Daddy Kane and Myka 9 note that initially a freestyle was a spit on no particular topic — Big Daddy Kane said,”from the’80s when we said we wrote a freestyle rap, which meant it was a rhyme that you wrote that was free of fashion… it is basically a rhyme just bragging about yourself.” Myka 9 adds,”back in the day freestyle was bust[ing] a rhyme about any random thing, and it was a written rhyme or something memorized”. Divine Styler states:”at the school I come from, freestyling was a non-conceptual composed rhyme… and they call freestyling off the top of the mind, so the era I come from it is a lot different”. Kool Moe Dee also refers to the earlier definition in his book.
I have trouble sticking to the beat when I’m freestyling. How can I improve?
In old school hip-hop, Kool Moe Dee claimed that improvisational rapping was instead called”coming off the top of the mind” and Big Daddy Kane said,”off-the-top-of-the-head [rapping], we just called that’off the dome’ — when you don’t write it and [you] say whatever comes to mind”.
Referring to the earlier definition (a written rhyme on non-specific subject matter) Big Daddy Kane said,”that’s really what a freestyle is” and Kool Moe Dee describes it as”true” freestyle, and”the real old-school freestyle”. Kool Moe Dee indicates that Kool G Rap’s track’Men At Work’ is an”excellent example” of true freestyle, along with Rakim’s”Lyrics of Fury”.
Many rappers learn to rap through improvised freestyling, and by making freestyling into a dialogue or a rhyming game that they play frequently as a way to practice, as explained in the publication How to Rap. Reasons for freestyling include entertainment, as a therapeutic action, to discover different ways of rapping, promoting oneself, increasing versatility, or as a religious activity. Improvised freestyling may also be used in live performances, to do things like giving something extra to the audience and to cover up mistakes. So as to prove that a freestyle is being made up on the place (rather than something pre-written or memorized), rappers will frequently refer to places and objects in their immediate setting, or will take suggestions on what to rhyme about.
I’ve just started rapping and I sound terrible. Can I still become a good rapper?
Freestyles are performed a cappella, over beatboxing (as seen in Freestyle), or over instrumental versions of songs. Freestyling is often done in a group setting called a”cypher” (or”cipher”) or as part of a”freestyle battle”.Due to the improvised nature of freestyle, meter and rhythm are usually more relaxed than in conventional rapping. Many artists base their freestyle in their current situation or psychological condition, but have a ready supply of prepared lyrics and rhyme patterns they can use as filler. Freestyling can also be utilised as a songwriting way of albums or mixtapes.
How do I come up with new material to rap about?
It’s a prominent part of modern hip hop culture, with precursors in poetic battles over the millennia in genres as diverse as Japanese haikai and Norse flyting. In a freestyle battle, each competitor’s goal is to”diss” their opponent through smart lyrics and wordplay, with heavy emphasis being placed upon the rapper’s improvisational ability. Many battles also include metaphorically violent imagery, complementing the”battling” atmosphere. It’s considered dishonorable or shameful to recite pre-written or memorized raps through a freestyle battle, since it reveals the rapper to be incapable of”spitting” spur-of-the-moment lyrics. A live audience is key, as a big part of”winning” a struggle is how an audience reacts to every rapper. Appointed judges may be used in formal contests, but typically the rapper who receives the biggest audience response is seen as the victor.
How do I come up with new material to rap about?
These days, with the rise of leagues such as King of the Dot and Ultimate Rap League, most conflicts are written with some freestyling incorporated into the verses. This allows for more intricate rhymes and insults.
As hip-hop evolved from the early 1980s, many rappers gained their fame through freestyle battles. Battles can take place anywhere: informally on street corners, on stage at a concert, in a college, or at event specifically meant for battling (such as Scribble Jam or the Blaze Battle).
What can I do if words aren’t coming when the beat turns on?
A cypher or cipher is an informal gathering of rappers, beatboxers, and/or breakdancers in a circle, in order to jam musically together. The term has also in recent years come to mean the crowd which creates around freestyle battles, consisting of spectators and onlookers. This group serves partly to encourage competition and partly to enhance the communal aspect of rap battles. The cipher is known for”making or breaking reputations in the hip hop community; if you are able to step in the cipher and tell your story, demonstrating your uniqueness, you are accepted”. ] These groups also serve as a way for messages about hip hop styles and knowledge to be dispersed, through word-of-mouth and encouraging trends in different battles.