Here Are the Best Freestyles of 2014. Nothing. But. BARS (Video)
Contrary to popular belief, a freestyle does not have to be an “off the top” verse, at least according to Big Daddy Kane and Kool Moe Dee, if you take them as credible sources. Says Kool Moe Dee in his book, There’s a God on the Mic: “There are two types of freestyle. There’s an old-school freestyle that’s basically rhymes that you’ve just thought of on the spot that may not have anything to do with any subject or that goes all over the place. Then there’s freestyle where you come off the top of the head…until 1986, all freestyles were written…before the ‘90s it was about how hard you could come with a written rhyme with no particular subject matter and no real purpose other than showing your lyrical prowess.” We likely all can agree that many freestyles these days are pre-written with an occasional few truly being “off the top.”
That said, here are the best freestyles (in every sense of the word) of 2014, in no particular order. You’ll hear monster verses from Lupe Fiasco, Bumpy Knuckles, Logic, Kendrick Lamar, Childish Gambino, Black Sheep Dres, King Los, Papoose, Lecrae, Detroit Che, Skillz, Lil Dicky, Locksmith and more. Some names may be more well-known than others but each can stand toe to toe withe ANYONE when it comes to spitting free lyrics of fury.
Logic embodied the definition of “freestyle” in every sense of the word with this blistering microphone attack on Sway in the Morning. Unknown at that time, the first minute and a half was a preview of his song “Soul Food” from his Under Pressure album, while the rest was an off the top lyrical display.
From the opening bass lick, this freestyle makes you want to fight. Bumpy Knuckles stepped into DJ Premier’s booth and straight bullied the mic. Mean face.
Amidst the acting, singing and stellar songwriting, people sometimes forget. You do not want it with Mr. Gambino on the mic…The talented Mr. Glover shows how he’s been grinding his whole life with this Peter Rosenberg freestyle.
To understand just what a MONSTER King Los is when it comes to “off the top” rhymes, watch what happens 3 minutes into this video when Los proceeds to incorporate words Sway feeds him into his verse. He stands with some of the true “off the top” greats like Supernatural, Craig G and KRS-One.
Kendrick Lamar & Big Boy
Kendrick Lamar returns to hometown LA to kick a freestyle that’s part written and part of the top and then…allows Big Boy to retort. This is two friends in an old-fashioned cypher.
Lupe Fiasco reminded all why he was entitled to have an entire album named The Cool, with this smooth as silk off the top freestyle on Sway in the Morning. Even though he’s shooting from the hip, Lupe still aims bullets of knowledge straight at your dome.
Black Sheep Dres
20+ years after giving you the choice, Black Sheep Dres is still more than capable of moving your mind and your feet with a choice verse. He stepped into the booth with DJ Premier and flexed his flow.
Relative newcomer Raury hails from Atlanta, but he’s not trapped. He’s an atlien whose mind travels far and wide. His uniquely quiet delivery sounds like a ROAR when you listen to what he’s saying. Perhaps that explains his name?
In a year full of fairy tales on wax, Locksmith kicked three minutes of pure, unadulterated Reality Rap in this Streetsweepers freestyle. Press play…then press rewind.
Lil Dicky has made a career of funny lyrics, but make no mistake. His skills are no joke. He took over The Backroom on 106 & Park and got busy.
Astro is all grown up, but the rhymes are still astronomical. He laid back in the pocket of Sway’s Five Fingers of Death challenge and did not break a sweat. Like whoa…
“Only sure thing in life is your death. I pray these rappers know that dude who’s hanging on their neck.” Andy Mineo stepped into The Backroom on 106 & Park and BODIED IT…with lyrics of substance and his message of faith.
2014 brought the triumphant return of Ras Kass. His Blasphemy album with Apollo Brown was one of the year’s finest with the triple crown of quality beats, rhymes and substance. And, Ras Kass had several freestyles where he showed he’s still about that lyrical life. Witness how he flexed for Tony Touch.
Elzhi brought his Detroit sway to The Backroom with a short but potent verse.
People sometimes use the term “Christian Rapper” as if it’s lesser than…Like somehow, a rapper repping for God has lesser skills which classifies him or her in a different category. Lecrae put an end to that with this genre-breaking and uplifting Five Fingers of Death freestyle.
Blind Fury & Jin
Blind Fury and Jin, two of the fiercest MCs to ever grace the Freestyle Friday stage on 106 & Park, ended the show’s 14-year run with a show-stopping freestyle battle.