The Art of Freestyle Rap

Music, Performance, Poetry

There I was sitting with my brother at the computer while the instrumental of Immortal Technique’s ‘Internally Bleeding’ was being played. With little thought, I rapped “yo yo, I’m the illest emcee, no-one’s sicker than me. Bush Bush, he’s like a bush, he’s so green and hairy and don’t get me started about John Kerry…” and passed over the headset to my brother who added “…yeah he’s eleven but he can spit sicker than you…”.

Seven years later, I’m sitting here and wondering what would have been if my brother never introduced me to the art that is Freestyle Rap – something I believe everyone should experience.

I decided to do some research into the effects of what I’ve been doing. I foundfMRI-Freestyle-Rap a study conducted by the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), using fMRI, they monitored the brain activity of twelve rappers freestyling. They found that freestyling increased brain activity in the medial prefrontal cortex – a part of the brain which is responsible for thought and action – while decreasing activity in the area which causes us to suppress and think twice.

While in “the zone”, I let go of my self-consciousness and just allow me to surprise me, the freeness is empowering. I’m too busy enjoying myself to worry about what I’m saying or the opinions of others in the room and before I even get the chance to oEminem-freestylever think something I’ve said, I’ve already forgotten what it was. So besides being a time passing activity or an opportunity to socialise in a cypher, does it have long-term benefits? Well, I’ve found that freestyling is a useful way to sharpen my song writing “tools” and almost instantly create a matching flow to any beat. Freestyle Rap also has a competitive side, however, these improvised rap battles are rarer to come by these days and I think they’d have no place on YouTube. Freestyling can be seen as a party trick. It’s a laugh for the participator AND the listener.

I guess the most awesome thing about it is that, using their easily accessible arsenal of thoughts and rhymes, a rapper can turn four minutes of repetitive sounds into something much more and it’ll take them just four minutes to do so.

“You’re not thinking about the words, it’s almost like they’re being handed to you and you’re just providing the vehicle for them to come out.”

I wish I could freestyle this whole blog post. These things still take me ages to write!


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