Three questions regarding the art of “freestyle rap” I asked on twitter today that brought up a great discussion between rappers, producers and music enthusiasts:
1) Does a rapper’s ability to freestyle gain them more respect?
2) What is your opinion on rappers that don’t freestyle?
3) Has freestyling lost its essence?
There were some interesting opinions on the subject. I decided to discuss this w/ my good friend Wenzel Dashington… I always respect his opinion.
Wenzel:There’s a whole new definition of what a freestyle is now days. Ever since people found out that Biggie and Jay-Z didn’t write, errrbody (lil wayne) wanna say they don’t write. That’s like saying someone who can play music by ear but can’t read music is less of a talent….
Me: A lot of people are saying that if they can’t write a song then it doesn’t matter. But shoot I still have respect for my homies that are DOPE a$$ freestylers that aren’t necessarily “rappers” trying to make it. For lots of people in this discussion it’s about the money… Others are arguing its about the art.
Wenzel: I agree with you. So what they can’t write a song. Hip-hop is a form of expression. Some people do that in written form and some off the top. It’s still important. A lot of battle rappers can battle but can’t make that transition to writing an album and vice versa. People need to stop policing hip hop and let it be. As long as they ain’t disrespecting the art, then it is what it is. At the end of the day is should be about the ART. The $ should be a separate issue. Man, sometimes hip hop worries about the petty stuff. I don’t hear rock bands arguing half the dumb shit we do.
Me: What do you think about those who say it’s all about the money?
Wenzel: You have to LOVE the art first! It ain’t 97-99, There’s not much money in rap. Especially not these days! Those that say it’s a hustle tend to be super wack! My day job is a HUSTLE..there’s money in that. I love hip hop for the art of it. Growin up I rapped cuz it was fun and I wanted to impress, not because I thought it would make $$.
Me: What about those that hustle that are actually really good? I know a lot of em.
Wenzel: Ok they hustle rap? How are they good but don’t love it? It’s rare somebody is just naturally good at something without some sort of practice? They had to love it in order to take the time to find out they were good right?. it always starts with love. If rap is just a hustle then what else do they do? or what do they wanna do? Do they listen to rap in their free time? I don’t see somebody just “hustling” rap., especially if they are good. a lot of times people use that excuse as a reason to keep their expectations low. That way, when they fail at it, they won’t be a disappointment to those who are counting on them. And honestly if that’s true, that’s the problem with hiphop. People don’t just hustle any other ART FORM. You don’t hear people sayin, I hustle artwork. Yeah but how did you become an artist? Collecting cans is a “hustle”. Slanging t-shirts is a “hustle”. You might not love it like the other things you do, but those that are good usually have a gift, and should treat it that way.
Me: They do love it and they’re good. But they still hustle, or “grind”.. if you will. Because there are too many damn rappers. The industry is clouded w/ BS and its so competitive. The industry wants what people will buy, and the masses want to buy whatever’s “in” or “cool” and its not really “cool” to rap about real shit.
Wenzel: Then is it really a hustle? Or a struggle? They are trying to make it. To me grind and hustle are different. And maybe I took the context of hustle wrong. But to me, if I’m good at something and I love it, then I say it’s my passion, or I’m on the grind. Hustle is something that I just do cuz it affords me extra at what I want or taking me here I wanna go. And if you are living off rap then it’s a profession, and you’re an artist.
Me: Agreed. Well, Wenzel… I thank you for your time and I appreciate the interview. Do you want to add anything?
Wenzel: LOL! Well yes I do. lol I wanna shout out all the haters cuz without them, I’d be bored at my “hustle” aka my day job! Lol On the real tho, just cuz you can, don’t mean you should. That goes for hatin too.
Wenzel: I think my point of view comes from always having to defend hip-hop growing up. When rap started you HAD TO BE ILL!!! I appreciate what it did for me. what it did for my culture and my generation. Rap is only what? 38yrs old? I would have to defend it to my parents, my white friends, my teachers, anybody different than me. it’s a double edged sword cuz you want to be accepted just like any other genre of music but no other genre is judged like ours. Our music is about expression but also based on competition. At the end of the day, wack is wack. We should be held to every other standard all the other genre’s are.