Why Should Every Rapper Freestyle?? Well in this post I want to talk about exactly that!
There is debate and to some degree, uncertainty about what freestyling really is when we are talking about it with regards to rap.
Originally, back in the 1980’s, the term ‘freestyle’ referred to a pre-written rap verse that was not on any particular subject matter, written for the sole purpose of demonstrating skill. Today however, the definition of ‘freestyle’ has changed, at least amongst rap purists. In the 1990’s groups such as “Freestyle Fellowship” pushed the boundaries and the definition of ‘freestyle’. It is thanks to their innovation that ‘freestyling’ is generally considered to be improvised rap lyrics performed off the top of the head.
One can debate the true definition of freestyling in this day and age. There are many examples where the term is used for a rap that isn’t improvised, but for the sake of this article I want to assume that it means ‘improvised rap lyrics made on the spot’.
I personally think every rapper should be able to freestyle at least to a certain degree, but it seems that many rappers today do not see the importance of learning to freestyle. There are many understandable reasons for this. Freestyling was once a necessity for any MC with an intention of winning a rap battle contest. However rap battles have become far more pre-planned and have moved to a more pre-written format. Therefore that necessity is no longer there. There are also a lot of famous and successful rappers that are unable to freestyle. One could then argue the validity of learning to freestyle as it is not a necessity to becoming successful. There is also the argument that it is too difficult and too time consuming to learn to do compared to the potential benefits. The arguments I often hear are, “Why should I freestyle, if so few successful rappers are able to do it?” And, “I’d rather take my time crafting my lyrics to make something that doesn’t just sound good the first time you hear it, but sounds good time and time again.”
These are all reasonable arguments but I would assert that it isn’t something that has to be very time consuming to learn to do. I also think that many would agree that it is a skill that can give any MC a distinct advantage, especially if they are able to write good lyrics as well as improvise. I am not suggesting that one should neglect writing and pre-planning lyrics in favour of always freestyling. I am not saying one should necessarily strive to be the best freestyle MC there is either. What I am saying however, is that by learning to freestyle combined with an ability to write, one does seriously put themselves head and shoulders above the rest.
Many of us know and understand the importance and benefits of being a good writer but the benefits of freestyling are very rarely defined. So the burning question is;
Why Should Every Rapper Freestyle?
Why should any rapper freestyle, yet alone every rapper?? Well in this article I want to give you 5 reasons why every rapper should freestyle!
Here they are;
1.It Gives You That ‘Wow’ Factor When Performing Live On Stage
Freestyling in front of a crowd really does separate you from the numerous other MC’s out there. Being able to use your surroundings in the moment and creatively turn it into lyrics never ceases to impress an audience. The other great thing is your rhymes don’t even have to be all that clever or be that deep in order to gain an audiences approval. The simple ability of being able to rap in an improvised fashion even to a small degree can still ‘wow’ an audience.
2.It Can Bail You Out If You Forget Your Written Rhymes
Yes all rappers can forget their rhymes. I’ve been guilty of this one in the past too! One should always take their performances seriously and devote adequate time to memorising their lyrics and practising their performance. Unfortunately though, there are those times when your mind just goes blank! There’s nothing worse than being in a rap battle, or performing a song live and you all of sudden forget your rhymes….
Freestyling offers you a way round that, especially if you are battling or you are performing a song that the majority of the crowd don’t know. If you happen to forget your lyrics you can simply go with the flow and adapt to the situation using whatever clever rhymes come to mind in the moment. In fact this can sometimes improve your performance. By doing the unexpected and taking something that could only be used in that very moment can be one of the best ways to make a crowd go crazy whether that is in a battle or whilst performing your own music live.
3.It Improves Your Individual Flow
Learning to freestyle teaches you to be far more flexible and far less rigid. Many rappers can write good lyrics but struggle being able to deliver them in a way that is enjoyable to hear and in a way that gives them a more individual style over actual music.
Freestyling forces you to adapt to the moment and to move with the mood of the moment and the music. It is a great way of helping you develop your flow both mentally as a creative individual and also in terms of the delivery of your lyrics. This can also help you greatly when you actually want to take the time to write lyrics as it gives you a greater musical awareness and ideas of how you might deliver your rhymes.
4.It Speeds Up Your Ability To Write Lyrics
By being able to creatively rhyme on the on spot, this means you can come up with rhymes far more quickly than you would have done if you were an MC that strictly writes your lyrics. This is because you have more rhymes stored in your head. If you can improvise clever rhymes on the spot, think how much time that can save you when you actually have time to think more deeply about what you want to say?
5.It Elevates Your All Round Songwriting Ability!
If you choose to continue writing lyrics as well as freestyling the quality of your pre-written lyrics will inevitably increase! This is because when you can come up with lyrics on the spur of the moment, you naturally want to go one step further and one step better when you actually take the time to write your rhymes. When you can freestyle to a certain level you might find that you come up with some rhymes and then think to yourself, “I could have freestyled that.” That naturally encourages you to push the envelop of your written rhymes that bit further and forces you to think, “How can I make that even better??”
……and these are just 5 reasons why every rapper should freestyle. There are many more!
Freestyling is often seen as being some sort of opposition to written lyrics. I don’t think it should be. It shouldn’t be a case that one should choose to be a freestyle MC or a written MC. One should in fact do both! The biggest reason in my opinion is because they can go hand in hand and one can actually help the other!
Some people have this idea that freestyling takes away from ones ability to write good songs and vice versa. I can’t find anything further from the truth! I would say that freestyling helps your ability to write and writing helps your ability to freestyle but it takes practice on both sides.