If you’ve ever sat down to write rhymes, you know that it can be a daunting task. What do I talk about? Does it fit together? Does it fit within the bars? Most people, it takes years of practice to get this art form down. There are a handful of artists though that have forgone the days of pen and paper and store all of their rhymes in their head. Like a giant filing cabinet, full of various verses that they have come up with over the years.
I recently read an article about Jay-Z where they were arguing about whether he would be considered a freestyle rapper or not. The argument is that because he has technically already come up with the lyric that he wouldn’t qualify as a freestyle artist. I would argue that just about every freestyle artist has, at some point, thought of the punch lines to their rhymes way before the delivery but this isn’t about the debate about freestyles. It was said that he started memorizing the lyrics because he couldn’t write them down fast enough. It’s one of the reasons that he’s been known to lay down tracks in one take. As I started to research other artists that used this method, I came across a decent list of top notch artists that do the same. It’s said the Biggie Smalls used to write all of his verses down until the time him and Jay-Z laid down the track Brooklyn’s FInest. From that day forward, he was said to memorize his lines only and turned in his book. Artists like Lil Wayne have been known for stepping into the booth without anything in hand and laying down tracks. As I dug deeper, you start finding artists like Rick Ross and Kayne West, all have the same style. Now, it’s one thing to lay down one song. Jay’s Reasonable Doubt album was completely recorded with just his memorized lines that he spit over each beat. I don’t know about you, but I can barely remember the grocery list so when I hear of these big name artists, all dropping the pen and paper to take up another form like memorization, I am thoroughly impressed. I’ve been there before. Sitting down with a beat looping in the background as you try and find the words that are running around in your head so you can put them down in a sequence that someone listening might be like, “yeah, that’s tight”. Imagine that happening over and over again with no beats as you come up with lyrical line after lyrical line which turn into hit after hit after hit. Debate it as freestyle or not, still doesn’t take away from the fact that I’m incredibly impressed with it.