Thursday, May 10, 2007

As many of the original elements of hip-hop may have been lost over the years, there is one element called "battle rapping" that seems to still be alive and well. No matter what place you hold in the hip-hop game, nobody is above getting into a rap battle! When I say NOBODY, I really mean NOBODY...producers and managers included dammit! It's sad, but very true. Even though rap battling is still going strong, a few things have changed over the years. The major one being that MOST of the folks in the battle can't or don't freestyle like the greats used to do? A message to the rappers: Just because no one has never heard your rhymes doesn't make it a freestyle. The reality is freestyling is very difficult for even the most talented emcees to pull off convincingly, so when money or reputation is on the line many won't chance it. I guess I can't blame them really, because one wack verse can be the end of a potentially lucrative career. Even one of the greatest freestylist ever to touch a microphone KRS-One revealed that he used to practice freestyling for several hours a day to develop his skills. During many of his early battles he would incorporate some of the rhymes that he had already mastered from his hours of practicing, but he was gifted enough to create rhymes in the heat of the battle as well. This is where many rap battlers seem to falter in my opinion. Too many written rhymes, and not nearly enough of the off the top of the head freestyles.

One of the true masters of the freestyle game is my dude Supernatural! His freestyle skills are freakishly insane to say the least, but he does it with such ease that it's difficult not to be amazed! Oh yeah, and for those of you that don't have a clue about how good Supernat really is, he was recently added in the World Book of Guiness Records for spitting a freestyle for over 9 hours! He must of had a whole bunch of shyt on his mind that day? If you haven't seen Supernatural in action, checkout this video clip of him doing his thing...

Personally, I am a big fan of battle rapping, but I think it has gone too comercial over the last few years? The face-to-face freestyle battle rapping of yester-year has pretty much deminished leaving only the diss records as the voice of disagreement these days. Even though I prefer the intensity of the hands on battle a great diss record can be just as potent if it is done in the right way. Honestly though, with all of this ghostwriting going on as of late I remain skeptical of the integrity factor when it comes to who actually wrote the rhymes themselves. Two of my favorite old school diss record battles were Roxanne Shante' vs. MC Sparky D and of course KRS-One vs. MC Shan! For that time period these two battles were unparalleled, but in today's hip-hop game things are a little different. Rappers seem to be releasing a new diss track every other week talking about nothing important in most cases. Most of the records are uninspired and lazy, which makes them boring to the listeners. Sometimes it reveals just how wack the artist really is, which can work against them sometimes. If you can't rap, just keep your mouth shut! Diss records are almost being used as a tool to keep certain rapper's names in the street. There are so many diss records floating around the internet these days, it is very difficult to keep track of them all. As a fan I want to believe that these artists are in a real disagreement about something major, and they are using a diss record to clarify the situation. Of course a few nasty insults about the person you got beef with is an important piece to a great diss track as well. Some fans have heartburn about emcees that make up fake statements about their favorite rapper, but I just take it as them sharing their opinions and not facts. Who gives a damn really? I just enjoy laughing at the creative punchlines and overzealous wordplay, and I don't worry about the rest of it.

One of my favorite diss records is by the rapper Common when he was going at it with Ice Cube back in the day about hip-hop being Westcoastalinized back in the 1990s! Check it out...

Common - The Bitch In Yoo

Outside of sharing that dope Common diss track above, I have also put together a little collage of some of my favorite freestyle battles posted on the internet below. Most of these are atleast a couple years old, but if you've never seen them before does that really matter? Most of these rhymes are definitely written, but they are still entertaining though....

Murda Mook vs. Serius Jones (Round One)

Murda Mook vs. Serius Jones (Round Two)

Murda Mook vs. Serius Jones (Round Three)

Snoop vs. Butter Kush

Party Arty vs. Murda Mook

Loaded Lux vs. Young Miles

Loaded Lux vs. Young Miles (The Rest...)

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