Big Boi Shows How To Truly Rock Off The Top In An Unreleased 2004 Freestyle (Video)
The vast majority of freestyles are not off the top rhymes. Instead, they are typically previously unheard verses, many of which ultimately make their way to albums. This is an occurrence that has shown itself time and time again, as many revered freestyles from the 90s and beyond resurface years later, with Rap geniuses quickly putting Melania and Michelle together. There’s no shame in that game. As has often been discussed, the original definition of the word “freestyle” did not mean a rhyme made up on the spot. Instead, the term was used for rhymes that were “free of style” or not devoted to any particular subject. It was only in later years that Heads came to define freestyling as going “off the top.”
The irony in the evolution is two-fold. First, by the old definition, many of today’s rhymes on wax would be considered freestyles, since, the vast majority consist of random, unrelated musings and punchlines strung together. In many ways, rapping about nothing is at an all-time high. Secondly, because so many verses positioned as freestyles today are pre-written (whether eventually released or not), when MCs truly go off the top, it may not sound as impressive, by comparison. The reality is only a select few MCs in the world, who have garnered significant commercial success, can truly make up artful rhymes on the spot, with flawless cadence and which go beyond simply rhyming two words together, regardless of coherence. Names like Common, Lupe Fiasco, Mistah F.A.B. and King Los come to mind in such discussions, with artists like KRS-One leading the pack.
With today’s weekly Throwback Thursday freestyle release from Tim Westwood, he unlocks a never before heard session from Outkast’s Big Boi, from 2004. Unlike most of these found gems, Big Boi is not spittin’ writtens. Instead, the Atlien MC goes off the top for nearly 5 minutes in a deceptively impressive display. Not only does Big Boi perfectly tailor his flow to match the beat for Jay Z’s “Encore,” deftly switching it up to mesh with Obie Trice’s “The Setup,” he also truly says things with his rhymes. He talks about the drink in his hand at the time, meeting a young lady earlier in the day, not wanting to curse because he’s on the radio and much more. It is not flawless, but it is perfection in its display of courage, charisma and skill from one of Hip-Hop’s all-time greats.