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 fuckNas: WKCR Freestyle
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