Monday, February 27, 2006

Freestyle Reality

Hopefully, we've all moved past the "shiny suit-independent as fuck" divide that threatened to engulf rap music in a scene of wool over everyone's eyes. However, there is still at least one subject that often pits Hip-Hop head vs. Hip-Hop head in the traditional Hatfield-McCoy b-boy stance: freestyling.

If I can break down this very base debate into two very basic camps, there's the side that says a freestyle is always off-the-top, while the blue-staters believe it can be pre-written. That latter definition is often considered the original, opposite of new school fetishists who figure anything pre-mediated has to be criminal. While Justices Alito and Roberts have taken no official position on the matter, it seems that every person with an Internet connection and a sense of intellectual entitlement does have an opinion. But, to me, the whole issue is analogous to a question my dad used to ask when I was little: what weighs more, 100 pounds of bricks? or 100 pounds of feathers? In the end, dope is dope, they both weigh 100.

Regardless of what we're calling a rose today, I have a number of mp3s of rappers spitting obviously written verses labeled as "freestyles" and memories of high school lunch tables playing a rhyming I-spy that I'd give the same name to. Coincidentally, a couple of those aforementioned mp3s happen to fall in the infamous "Nas folder", most notably an Illmatic-era take from an appearance on the Stretch Armstrong & Bobbito show (89tec9). Over the buxom bassline beat from Large Professor's remix of Gang Starr's Gotta Get Over, Nas begins with the second verse of Represent, pauses for a couple ad-libs, and comes back with the first verse before a DJ malfunction sets in. Luckily, everyone regroups, breakbeats get split like the Red Sea, and Nas drops some otherwise unheard Gemstar grime. Perhaps the flow wouldn't fit One Time 4 For Your Mind, but this "lost verse" always was to me the response to that song's outro pleading for Nas to "kick that shit for the projects." All in all, it's a dope freestyle.

I leave your brain stuck, giving hoes a plain fuck
They call me Nasty, but I'm not with the strange stuff
When I'm drunk, I stagger, writing lyrics with a dagger
Next stab would catch him wreck badder than a tec would have him
Nas: WKCR Freestyle

4 Comments:

Anonymous Colin said...

Equal props for both the free and that old Rap Pages interview.

On the freestyle debate, I'm definitely with you on both being dope. I just have a problem with people treating a written like an off the dome. It's like yeah it was sick, but don't tell me you made that up just now. The best freestyle is the kind Big L was famous for, spreading pre-written's with comments about what's going on. Ain't no way the 'butthead' line was thought up on the spot. Another thing that bugs me is just being 'too prepared' for a freestyle. During one of Jin's battles on 106 his opponent was pulling props out of his pockets to match his rhymes while battling. To me that's wack.

Anyways, I probably rambled and weaced my way through coherency, but I think my message is there. Props for the upload.

February 27, 2006 9:09 PM  
Anonymous Truth505 said...

Dog that was some underground nas shit right there,as far as freestyle's go its all "free" so u cant expect to much,some emcee got it other's just kicking writtin freestyle's guess they both weigh 100 pound's like u said thanks for posting that track ill shit kid peace

February 28, 2006 10:33 PM  
Blogger easye7 said...

Wow, never heard that before. Keep up the good work I check this Blog almost everyday.

March 01, 2006 1:48 AM  
Anonymous RegDudeHghrLvl said...

Good looks on this one. I've been checkin for these blogs lately, I can appreciate your efforts. Keep the rare Nas gems coming

March 01, 2006 5:28 PM  

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