Freestyling is no child’s play. Good rappers are known for their freestyle skills. While a few others are known for other skills like wordplay, delivery, and storytelling. Rappers like Jay Z, Eminem, Drake, Kanye West, Kendrick Lamar, A-Q, Boogey, Blaqbonez & Vector Tha Viper are known for their ability to freestyle.
Cooking up something off the dome on the spot is a rare skill that requires intelligence and speed. Those who posses it gain the admiration Hip Hop fans.
In this dispensation, we have a plethora of ghostwriters and professional songwriters who are paid to write songs for celebrities confidentially. But you’ll never get to know of this as a listener or as a fan except the news leaks. This means that your favorite rapper may not be the creator of the art he renders. You might just be attributing undue hype to someone you thought was the greatest lyricist. Imagine finding out that Kendrick Lamar never wrote any of his verses.
This is why it is always better to judge a rapper from a cypher. It is why freestyle is so important; you get to see the emcees in their real forms with no make over. You should see how they perform when the padding effects of a sound recording studio is taken away. No auto tune or underlays. Just you, the mic and the audience.
Like all other skills, freestyle is developed and nurtured. Now if you really want to develop your freestyle skills, here is an article to help you build a better stance. Here is a freestyle rappers guide; with 6 super simple tricks that will improve your skills. Mastering these will transform you into a freestyle lord and send shivers down the spine of any rapper you face in a rap battle. Here we go;
How to become a pro; for intending freestyle rappers
Freestyle rappers are not lazy, the key is to write consistently and with persistence. You must develop a habit of writing songs and verses for you to learn how to freestyle without stress. When you write and read more often, your vocabulary and register of words will improve. And that will help you to connect words with situations in every bar to make a rhyme.
As a rapper, your schedule may be occupied with activities. You may be finding time to connect with your fans on social media, going for events, record in a studio and also creating time for the video shoot. But that should never stop you from writing.
Let be honest, most of our favorite freestyle rappers have “freestyle verses”. These are verses written deliberately to sound like a freestyle. And they probably write at least a verse everyday. This means they usually have a lot of freestyle “verse” options memorized.
While natural freestyle rappers like MC Jin and Eminem have a high IQ and can create an imaginary world from thin air. You might be a slower learner, so writing and memorizing a lot of self written “freestyle verses” can bring you to a pro level.
1. Relax and find a comfort zone
As a rapper, you will always be asked to burst for your friends or for your fans. It could be at a radio station, a show or even on a red carpet. First and foremost, relax and take a little time to think of starting with a line that can strike a listener.
When you are asked to freestyle, you have to collect your energy and analyze the instrumental given to you. You don’t have to rush no matter the hype in the moment. Don’t try to wolf the beat with a quick tempo style like Sarkodie when you know that you aren’t a Pro. Make yourself comfortable and do it at your own pace, on your own terms.
2. Biting lyrics from your already released song
It a big NO!
That is the mistake many rappers make today, especially in Nigeria. These rappers are called up to freestyle at a radio station or at an event like the Hennessy Cypher and what shocks me is that they start reciting the lyrics from a previously released verse. Avoid using the song lyrics of a song which you have done before. The aim of freestyle is to impress with new “made-up” material.
3. Ask For Words
Asking the audience for words is allowed, that is why it is called a freestyle. What makes you a true rapper is creativity, using words from the audience makes you stand out as a among other emcees.
Kendrick Lamar asks for words when he freestyles and even Vector asked for words when he rapped for 2 Hours and 30 Minutes at the Rhythm FM Rap Fury. So it isn’t a crime if you ask for words to Freestyle when you are called upon to freestyle. Using this trick alone will make your job much easier. And its not even as hard as it sound, you are afforded time to think while the excited audience scamper to nominate a word to you.
4. Give It Your Best Shot
Ask your favorite rappers and they will tell you that “freestyle no be beans o”. For you have a fighting chance against an adversary, you need to try the hardest. Its all about the approach, you need to have the attitude of a champ. No rapper knows the end of his freestyle from the beginning; but you can work it all the way down. Its kind of like digging a hole till you find the cricket.
The same principle applies here, you have to apply intelligence as a rapper since it is what you didn’t prepare for. Even before you spit your first bar, be sure to start thinking of the next series of lines.
This principle holds the secret of Jay Z skill; one of the finest freestyle rappers in rap history. Whenever he is done with line one, he still flows with ease because he has already structured the next set of words to use.
5. Morale Booster
You need to learn how to look out for physical objects that can serve as a morale booster to your flow. Firstly, you must observe the environment and capitalize on it to make your freestyle performance more tantalizing, appealing and intoxicating. Many times, pro freestyle rappers make out whole topics from nothing but the objects lying around. It is possible to intoxicate people with your performance when they get carried away with your flow.
This is what to do to keep the hearts of the fans and viewers glued to your delivery. You have to look around for things in the environment, you can look at the mic and say “I’m so dangerous, my tongue is a venom spiller, the Microphone’s scared coz I’m just a Mic killer’‘. This alone will keep people’s ears fixed on your wordplay and delivery.
6. Story Telling
One important sub-element of Hip Hop is storytelling. It allows a lot of freestyle rappers air their minds on a beat or instrumental to pass a message across to the listeners. For example; When you are called to freestyle, you can tell the listeners a story on how a popular rapper tried to diss you in his song and you ended his career with a verse.
Although this takes a high level of mastery, you start by creating short imaginary stories and trying to build bars around it. You can rap about it line by line sequentially till you have a narrative. In the beginning, you will stutter a lot. But as you master the themes, you’ll become more proficient at telling stories to the extent that you might want to even add one or two word-plays here and there. Things like this help to keep people glued and itching to hear from you whenever you are called upon to freestyle.
As a rapper faced with freestyling challenges and difficulties, make sure you work towards developing these skill sets. It will surely improve your overall rap ability. I am a witness of this, I didn’t write this post to promote myself, but to solve a problem upcoming artistes face. Feel free to contact HipHopHead for Consultancy and Promotion.
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