Don’t Call It A Freestyle!
The older that hip hop (and I) get, the further away from the roots and original meanings of hip hop terminology we get. We posted a piece called “Don’t Call It A Mixtape” written by Stephen the Levite, which is basically the same article conceptually. Don’t call it what it isn’t. Don’t Call It A Freestyle! You are NOT freestyling! This article however has a little room for debate vs. the Don’t Call It A Mixtape article – which definitely doesn’t.
Freestyling in the purest form of the word from inception means that you are rapping free of style and was memorized or written. Back when hip hop was good … or much more innovative and theatrical than now, rappers/artists actually wrote songs and not just verses. There was a skill there. It was plain to see that there were song writers in hip hop. So the early freestylers respected a freestyle or free from style that was written but didn’t respect one that was off the the dome because that person clearly didn’t have the skill set to write an actual song and memorize it. This freestyle wasn’t about any specific topic. It sounds like what we know from the late 80’s to the mid to late 2000’s, but it isn’t.
Freestyle as I know it was “off the top”, “off the top of the head”, “off the dome”, and was definitely not something written or memorized! The way that this was verified were people knowing your music and raps and that could verify you weren’t spitting something that was spit before (although a few lines were sometimes used as building blocks or filler to freestyles – which was sometimes frowned upon), and you were rapping about something in your environment, proving that it was thought of on the spot.
What you see nowadays are people calling something a freestyle because it isn’t a song and they just want to drop something for their fans. So I can’t be completely against the youngsters calling that a freestyle when in actuality that’s the original meaning of a freestyle. But notice I said “… I can’t be completely against”. I can be against it partially or should I say mostly, because the meaning of the freestyle that I endorse has lived on much longer than the original meaning and was a very important part of hip hop culture as much as DJ’ing, Graffiti, Breaking, etc. And I am mostly against youngsters calling a freestyle that isn’t one, because they aren’t doing so with the knowledge of the history of the original free of style meaning of the term freestyle. They are just using a term that was popularized and then bastardized in hip hop to gain a buzz and some success. Whether these youngsters are doing so with the knowledge of what they are doing is wrong or not, it is! So if you didn’t know, now you know! Don’t Call It A Freestyle unless you are coming off the top of the dome son!