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Freestyle rap

From Academic Kids

Freestyle rap is, strictly speaking, rapping that is done in the moment at pure free flow, with no previously composed lyrics, and reflecting a direct mapping of the mental state and performing situation of the artist. It is similar in this sense to improvisational music or acting.

Due to the improvised nature of freestyling, rules for meter and rhythm are usually relaxed relative to conventional rap. Genuine ability to freestyle completely improvised is very rare, however, and most artists keep to the spirit of freestyle by basing their set on the situation and mental state, but have a ready supply of prepared lyrics and rhyme patterns they can use as filler or even around which they can build their set. This is similar to the way in which instrumental improvisatory musicians have a mental database of licks, techniques and melodies that they use to aid their improvisations. Often, freestyling is done in a group setting (called a "cypher") or as part of a battle. In these cases, freestyle verses are often prepared in the rapper's head as the other rappers in the cypha or the opponent in the battle take their turn. Freestyling is also often used by many rappers when beginning to write a song, in order to get a feel for the beat and to brainstorm lyrical ideas.

Freestyles have been mostly an underground phenomenon since the early nineties, partly due to rap lyrics becoming considerably more complex in terms of rhyme scheme and meter. Furthermore, many rappers often deliver standalone written verses on radio shows that are referred to or labelled on records or on filesharing programs as freestyles, which has somewhat distorted the meaning of the term. There is often confusion as to whether or not "freestyle verses" are in fact freestyled, with many rappers' written lyrics being simple enough to seem freestyled and many of the best freestylers' improvised lyrics being complex and confident enough to seem written. In the early 21st century, freestyling (particularly freestyle battling) experienced a resurgence in popularity of sorts as successful freestyle battle competition TV shows were shown by both BET and MTV, and Eminem's movie 8 Mile brought the excitement of the freestyle battle to mainstream movie audiences.

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