#DearRappers: Stop sending me “0 to 100” freestyles [Article]
Edmonton, AB – Here’s the deal: you cats need to stop sending me “0 to 100” freestyles. I won’t listen to them. Everyone and their grandmothers are sending me “0 to 100” freestyles right now and I can’t take it anymore. The Canada rap game is oversaturated with “0 to 100” freestyles and it’s not a good look for us – at all.
There’s this phenomena that I am going to call the “A Milli Phenomena,” wherein every MC or MC-wannabe drops a freestyle over top of one particular track. It started with Lil Wayne’s “A Milli” off Tha Carter III in 2008 and several songs have since received the same treatment. For a while, there, “Pound Cake” was going strong (right after Nothing Was The Same blew up the Internet). Last year, everyone was getting in over top of Ferg’s “Work.” And then – of course – everyone did a “Control” verse. It was atrocious. And now, everyone is flooding my inbox with freestyles over top of “0 to 100.” And this needs to come to a stop A.S.A.P. Ferg (Tee-hee. I stole that from Sarosh. He says “ASAP Ferg” whenever he means to say “A.S.A.P.” It’s great). Because if we’re being completely honest, here: these freestyles are becoming the white noise of my Gmail. I see “0 To 100” and I move on to the next demo. Why? Because I don’t care that you think you’re better than Drake. You’re not better than Drake. And if I want to listen to “0 to 100,” I’ll go listen to “0 to 100.”
So I’m going to break it down for you, here on #DearRappers. Here is why you need to stop sending me the same ol’ freestyles. And here is why you need to start making original material, or at least look at working a different kind of freestyle. Check it out after the jump.
Let me give you some perspective, here: I have yet to see someone send me a freestyle over any Chance the Rapper joint, or any joint off of Gambino’s Because The Internet. Why? Because Bino and Chance are changing the game. Because the Internet and Acid Rap were both defining projects for the new wave of hip-hop. Just look at those flows and those lyrics. They’re monstrous. If any rapper tried to take on any track off any one of those two projects, it would be MC suicide. So why does Drizzy get the short end of the stick? Drake has a predictable flow. That’s not a bad thing, by any means. Predictable flow is the cornerstone to maintaining replay-value, and radio play. Drake is the king of both replay-value and radio play. Unfortunately, this leaves Drizzy vulnerable to the hoards of MCs who think they can do Drake better than Drake.
And let me let you in on a little secret: it’s usually the same people who send me these same freestyles. The same ones who are sending me “0 to 100” freestyles, are the ones that sent me “Pound Cake” freestyles a few months ago. And they’re the same ones who sent me “Work” freestyles last year. Haven’t you cats managed to rascal up any original material in the last year? That’s the ish I want to hear. That’s the ish that defines you as an artist.
Y’all could start a cover band and call yourselves “Drake Featuring Drake” (which is a reference to that line in “5AM In Toronto” where Drake’s all like, “That’s why every song sound like Drake featuring Drake.” He hit the nail on the head on that one, don’t ‘cha think?). You guys can perform at casinos and bar mitzvahs, or something. It will be all kinds of adorable. And you won’t ever manage to carve out paths for yourselves as independent rap cats.
Real talk: I went to a show a few months ago where one of the opening acts ONLY COVERED DRAKE SONGS. This was a legitimate hip-hop show, by the way. And one of the local openers just covered Drake songs. He didn’t even try to throw a freestyle into the mix. He just covered Drake. I cried myself to sleep that night. Just kidding. I didn’t. But I’m sure he did. But here’s some food for thought: I don’t even remember the dude’s name. I just remember him as “That guy who covered Drake songs.” And I’m sure this cat is really trying to forge his own path in the rap game. But if we’re being honest, here, he’s stuck at 0. He’s not going to 100. He started at the bottom. And he’s still there [Editor’s side note: if I took those last two incredibly witty sentences and rapped them over the “0 To 100” beat, would it make for a good freestyle, or nah?].
Original material is key. Without original material, you can’t make a name for yourself. You need to find beats that work for you. You need to find a rhyme scheme that is yours – and own it. Being a rapper isn’t about rhyming words with other words; it’s about honing a craft with your brand emblazoned on it. You can’t define yourself by a discography of freestyles over top of other artists’ songs.
In defense of the freestyle
I’m not trying to ish all over freestyles here, though. Freestyles are so crucial. Especially for artists on the come-up. It gives you a chance to build from where someone left off. You have a pre-made beat all ready for you. You have a flow and rhyme scheme that’s been pre-determined. So you have as much leeway with the track as your heart desires. If you’re still familiarizing yourself with the rap game, you can use a freestyle to solidify your lyricism and play around with words. If you want to take it to the next level, you can mess around with the flow and rhyme schemes. If you’re a pro, you can get in on a song that’s totally out of your artistry, and make it fit within your rap style.
I’m going to reference Shad, here. Because A) I have a huge soft spot for Shadrach Kabango, and B) Dude actually knows how to drop a freestyle. If you’ve been to a Shad show, you know that he drops a gnarly freestyle over Pusha T’s “Numbers On The Boards.” And more recently, he’s also been performing a freestyle over “Draft Day.” But if you know Shad, you know he’s far from being the coke-pushing bravado that is Pusha T. And he’s definitely not that confident Champagne Papi that is Drizzy Drake. He’s made his niche by owning his insecurities. Shad is the master of self-deprecating deadpan rap. And this is – precisely – why it is so awesome to see him freestyling over Push or Drizzy. The songs he chooses are not “Shad songs.” But he uses the art of the freestyle to turn them into “Shad songs.”
So with that all said-and-done, stop sending me “0 To 100” freestyles. I’m serious. I’m not going to listen to them. Try and spit over “Acid Rain” (off Acip Rap), or “3005” (off Because The Internet). Take yourself to the next level. And stop doing what everyone else is doing. You boring.
Written by Sarah Sussman for HipHopCanada
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