Freestyling is dope. To witness an emcee freestyling off the top of the dome is literally an art form among hip hop heads worldwide. Being able to spit out words on the fly while at the same time thinking of what to say next is something truly special. So where has it gone? It's one thing to freestyle, it's also another to freestyle in a battle! I've seen emcees rip one another apart with nothing by raw lyrics, whether it be in on stage in front of a crowd, or in a freestyle circle in the parking lot. Telling your opponent that he bought his clothes at a second-hand store or that his mom left her panties in his bed is one of the many awesome things you can witness in a battle. But what bothers me is that what I'm talking about is freestyling from years back. Today? This is what passes as a "freestyle battle": LYRICS How is that freestyling? How is that even battling? Most of these rappers today don't even spit off the top, they just write lyrics down and bring them to the battle. I would love to see one of these guys actually drop their rhyme book out of their pocket and get laughed out of the building because you know it's true! What, because you can spit lyrics on stage in front of your opponent, that automatically qualifies you as a "freestyle rapper"? Please. I've seen the greats like KRS-One and Supernatural completely rip it live on stage. It wasn't a battle but it was freestyling off the top at its best. I've also seen local rappers tear Jeru the Damaja a new one in an actual battle. Jeru knew he lost and played it off like he was the king of emceeing or whatever, but that's a whole other story. This is freestyling at its best: VIOLENCE One of the most disturbing parts about these battles today is that these so-called rappers are taking the word "battle" literally. Look, this isn't a fight, it's a freestyle battle amongst rappers, emcees, whatever you want to call yourselves. It's supposed to be about out-doing your opponent with your words, it's a competition to see who's got the best flow/lyrics of the night. If your opponent tells you that he's gonna plow your mom while you're tied up in a chair (which would be a ridiculously stupid verse, but let's just use this as an example), it doesn't mean that he's actually going to do it, and that you should kill him right now on stage! It just means he's insulting you - he's out-doing you, he's trying to get a reaction out of the crowd. Chill on the violence, this isn't prison, you don't have to stab someone just because they looked at you the wrong way (I haven't been in prison but I've seen OZ). This is a video that I'm sure everyone has already seen before. It features two guys that are talking to each other about how awesome they are, one guy threatens to shoot the other in the face with a shotgun, his opponent then punches him in the face because he got all up in his personal space: MUSIC Lastly, this is actually the part of the freestyle battling that bothers me the most - WHERE IS THE MUSIC?!?! I can't understand why these battles have no music in them! These guys are supposed to be emcees and yet all they're doing is standing there talking, it's like they've turned into poets, like they don't have time for music, instead their attitude is "Fuck music, just listen to my voice, actually fuck lyrics and flow, I'm just going to stand here and talk bad about my opponent in an angry voice and if he pisses me off when he talks, I'll stab him". Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't this hip hop? Y'know, the thing that's based on this wonderful thing called MUSIC? I thought the 4 elements of hip hop were: MC, DJ, Graffiti, and B-Boying? There should be a DJ at these battles throwing on breaks for the emcess to rap over while they lyrically destroy their opponent to the best of their abilities. Instead, we have this: CONCLUSION Where does this leave us? I'll tell you. It leaves us with an entire generation of people that think they're amazing rappers that will kill anyone in a freestyle because they're so awesome. They even have championships and money on the line in these battles. Whatever happened to good 'ol street cred? Gone. What about props? Gone. What about FUN? Gone. Unless some of you emcees reading this step up and throw down the way you're really supposed to, hip hop will have a hard time moving forward. Think about the kids! Will someone please think about the kids!?