Freestyle is a type of improvisation with or without instrumental beats, in which lyrics are recited with no particular subject, structure. The lyrics are made on the spot, with no previous memorization. It’s similar to other improvisational music, such as jazz where a lead instrumentalist functions as an improviser with a supporting band giving a beat. Improv/freestyles are improvised this way.
In the book How to Rap, Big Daddy Kane and Myka 9 note that originally a freestyle was a spit on no specific subject — Big Daddy Kane said,”from the’80s when we mentioned we wrote a freestyle rap, which meant that 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 piling [ing] a rhyme about any random thing, and it was a written rhyme or something memorized”. Divine Styler says:”in the school I come from, freestyling was a non-conceptual composed rhyme… and now they call freestyling off the top of the mind, so the age I come from it is a lot different”. Kool Moe Dee also refers to this earlier definition in his book.
In old school hip-hop, Kool Moe Dee claimed that improvisational rapping was rather called”coming off the surface of the mind” and Big Daddy Kane stated,”off-the-top-of-the-head [rapping], we just called that’off the dome’ — when you do not write it and [you] say whatever comes to mind”.
Referring to this earlier definition (a written rhyme on non-specific subject matter) Big Daddy Kane stated,”that is what a freestyle is” and Kool Moe Dee describes it as”true” freestyle, and”the true old-school freestyle”. Kool Moe Dee indicates that Kool G Rap’s track’Men At Work’ is an”excellent example” of authentic freestyle, together with Rakim’s”Lyrics of Fury”.
Many rappers learn how to rap through improvised freestyling, and by making freestyling into a conversation or a rhyming game that they play frequently as a way to practice, as explained in the book How to Rap. Reasons for freestyling include entertainment, as a therapeutic action, to discover unique ways of rapping, promoting oneself, raising flexibility, or as a religious activity. Improvised freestyling may also be used in live performances, to do things such as giving something extra to the audience and to cover up mistakes. So as to prove that a freestyle is being made up on the spot (as opposed to 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?
Many artists base their freestyle in their current situation or mental condition, but have a ready supply of prepared lyrics and rhyme patterns that they could use as filler. Freestyling can also be used as a songwriting method for albums or mixtapes.
What can I do if words aren’t coming when the beat turns on?
It is 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, every competitor’s goal is to”diss” their competition through clever lyrics and wordplay, with heavy emphasis being placed upon the rapper’s improvisational ability. Many conflicts also include metaphorically violent vision, complementing the”combating” atmosphere. It is deemed dishonorable or shameful to recite pre-written or memorized raps during a freestyle battle, since it shows the rapper to be incapable of”spitting” spur-of-the-moment lyrics. A live audience is critical, as a large portion of”winning” a struggle is how an audience reacts to each rapper. Appointed judges may be utilised in formal competitions, but typically the rapper who receives the largest audience response is viewed as the victor.
In modern times, with the growth of leagues such as King of the Dot and Ultimate Rap League, most conflicts are composed with some freestyling incorporated into the verses. This allows for more complex rhymes and insults.
Battles can take place anywhere: informally on street corners, on stage at a concert, at a college, or at event specifically meant for combating (like Scribble Jam or the Blaze Battle).
How do I freestyle rap if I am not very good at rhyming words?
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 lately come to mean the audience which forms 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 can 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 other battles.