Locksmith Has Already Delivered The Freestyle Of The Year
Richmond, California’s Locksmith is a decorated veteran MC who makes music with substance. He has made songs with Xzibit, KXNG Crooked, Ras Kass, Apathy, and others along the way. However, the East Bay lyricist is also known for being the source of incredible freestyles. Over the last decade and a half, the MC has dazzled Sway In The Morning, the late Kay Slay’s radio show, and other outlets. His on-the-spot raps are some of the best in all of Hip-Hop. As 2024 begins to unfold, Locksmith has set the new standard with a 10-minute freestyle that Sway Calloway declares the year’s best. While that is a bold prediction, it is hard to imagine anything sharper than this airtight display.
Appearing on Sway In The Morning, Locksmith tackles RZA’s 30-year-old “CREAM” production with some incredibly timely food for thought. Even from the top, the MC has a heavy thesis: “Listen close as I expose a book / Sort of a moral compass, encompassing what to cook / This is what the business took / The ones claiming culture-vultures usually turn out to be the biggest crooks / You have to understand your enemy’s flaws / Watch out for your own people, that’s affinity fraud / Can’t even afford a Cesar, bank account on empty / I’m into real estate, that’s ’cause jealous ones still envy / Desperate thugs, eatin’ breakfast in the club / In the Bay we say ‘yee,’ that’s expected when it’s love.” The lines pack wisdom, while also weaving in some recent and high-profile legal drama involving The Breakfast Club‘s DJ Envy and his real estate partner, Cesar Pina.
Locksmith maintains that balance of speaking wisdom, criticism, and cultural commentary, underpinned with wordplay referencing certain happenings. In one section, he involves Will Smith and Jada Pinkett as well as The LOX and D-Block to make a much bigger point: “Look how they framed us in a box / Jada’s kiss broke his Will now she beggin’ ‘Smith to change the locks / Try’na eavesdrop / When a woman wants to stray, there’s nothing you can say to try and D-block / Just cut her off, keep it movin’, and weigh it later / Where I’m from we had to learn to keep it player.” In another area, Lock’ demonstrates a similar multi-layered section of bars involving Gillie Da Kid, Major Figgas, and A Million Dollaz Worth Of Game.
While his language weaves in media personalities and celebs, Locksmith’s targets are more deliberate. The DIY artist criticizes the industry playbook: “Desperate to go viral / Labels are in survival / Mode, and every artist is starving, so they provide you / With just enough drugs so they can drown you / After you dead and gone, they blame the n___as around you / Ask yourself before you spin into a plummet / With all these dead rappers, who benefits from it? / But we denote that we revoke it / Then turn around and consume the very music that promotes it / N___as don’t want to be free, they want to be comfortable / I declare we fell off a cliff, Dr. Huckstable / The goal post for Black folks is adjustable / Until we fix us, then we become corruptible / You can’t only accept facts when it’s convenient / The gospel is the gospel, regardless of how you receive it.”
With a tremendous vocabulary the MC calls out the state of things throughout. “Right or wrong, we play along, pretending / We don’t even care if it’s good, as long as it’s trending / We keep extending our limits, receding closer / To the point we can’t distinguish what’s dope from mediocre / I made mistakes worth the pain / Suffocated by hate, I had to carve a certain lane.”
Moments later, Lock’ touts, “I wave back to the haters that made him clutch / We’ve never seen with a bad dame, like a Roc Nation brunch.” A few bars later, he declares, “Do you confuse what I’m spittin’ with mindless dribble / I hate every rapper alive, besides that, I’m civil / You see, ever since Martin and Malcolm X / Most of our people have a messiah complex / We keep waiting for someone to be our savior / So we are more susceptible to unethical behavior / False prophets that profit off bad juju / Far as optics, our only option is YouTube / Sponsored ads sellin’ you conscious trash that I expose, go and console your sad guru.” He continues, “It’s a distraction, the government can’t sustain us / We accept the values of the people that used to hang us / This is what happens when you glorify trappin’ and your worship athletes, actors, and entertainers / We used to want money, now we want to be famous / Blue checks on blue checks, just look at how bad they framed us / Jezebel, Mammy, Andy, and Amos give a past to every community that ain’t us / It ain’t much, but the consequences are dire / Entire budgets are spent to inspire lower desires / You can’t have buyers without suppliers / Make Sam scream ‘uncle!’ he chuckles when you perspire / The devil’s a liar, so is social media / Under the influence of influencers feeding ya,” he charges. “But I’m a Bay guy / Pac and Mac Dre guy / I know the play-by, ’cause I grew up watching A.I.” Two bars later, he slams, “I can’t wait ’til they replace you wack n___as with AI.”
The intensity continues through, with quotable bars after quotable bars.
#BonusBeat: This month, Locksmith released his latest single, “I Meant It”: