Itís safe to say that the Freestyle Boards changes with the seasons. This past winter and spring the boards was inundated with poetry (vets like paperdollpoet and the perfect mistake to the new / middle schoolers like Soulchild and hunuh). As we move into the summer, weíve seen the return of not only the MC but the battle as well. Iíll be honest this wasnít my first plan of action for this month, but seeing how this new blood started coming out of the woodwork. Them wanting to test their mettle against the veterans, I felt this would be a good way to officially document the very latest generation of MCs. Some are still aspiring while others are more aware of their abilities as wordsmiths. I pulled these cats together for a roundtable discussion of sorts to get their takes on battling and what if any steps are being taken to perfect their craft away from boards. I introduce hdub, The Lemon Kid, FrontLine, southernboy 423 and Whateva. Letís check out what they have to say.
YM: What does it mean to you to battle?
Hdub: Battling started out as my natural introduction to Freestyle, and it has become my bread and butter on this board. I was drawn to OKP through a combination of my lifelong loves for discussion/argument and for music. Once I had started getting involved in the creative aspect of hip hop rather than just being a fan I became eager to check out the freestyle board. Based on what I had heard of Freestyle in other posts around OKP, and from what I saw around in the archives and in the tourney it seemed like battling was a main component of the rhyme scene in here. I was surprised by how little rhyming there was going on in here at the time, and it seemed to me like there was a core of a few folks who had kind of gotten to be big fishes in a small pond. I wanted to shake things up a bit and to see what I could do in terms of rhyming; battling seemed to be the obvious way to accomplish these goals. Eventually, once I got started with it the rewards from battling became the major sustenance for my creative endeavors making music.
The Lemon Kid: to go one on one with another emcee.
FrontLine: To be a good Emcee and to try and entertain the reader at the same time...
Southernboy 423: In one word Challenge. Thatís all it is. Not a challenge from another emcee, but a challenge from yourself to see how far you have took your talent of putting words together to express yourself. The emcee you are battling is only a subject, there only there to make every challenge different. When you get to a challenge and it defeats you, step your game up and reach another level.
Whateva: Battling is an ceremony. You clashiní with other Titans. Hopefully, you walk away with a W.
YM: What do you gain from these verbal clashes?
Hdub: As I was saying before battling is my bread and butter on the board. Even though I just sort of fell into it, battling has been a major source of motivation for me. Besides an extremely short period in high school where I tried writing some verses for a few days my interest in trying to write or spit lyrics was confined to drunken freestyling. Although the interest was limited it was there, on this site I took that casual curiosity to the next level. Since I wanted so shake shit up and since battling seemed to be a big part of the site I felt like coming out in a battle was the natural way for me to engage and experiment with this board. It also seemed like it would be easier to write a battle verse than a verse on another subject because the context of the other battle and the things that your opponent says and does provide a wealth of subject matter to draw from. Being forced to establish my rep with so much battling forced me to spend a lot more energy on rhyming than I had ever thought I would. Initially my interest in all of this was just casual but that crazy period of battling just pulled me in. Now Iím getting involved with making music on a more serious level.
The Lemon Kid: don't know, never entered oneÖ
FrontLine: I learn from losing and winning, just starting this could really help sharpen ma skillz...
Southernboy 423: Sometimes u gain nothing, it all depends on the challenge (or other emcee so to speak). If he or she pushes your talent to a point that you havenít reached, them u gained an opportunity to see where you talent is and take it further gaining experience and better skills. Some cats do it to gain respect and a name for themselves, me personally I donít care if you know my name or not. As for respect, a man gains that because of who he is, so I donít do it for that either. Some people give it easier and some give it harder, if you waist time battling for respect you will end up rapping for others and not yourself.
Whateva: For me, The win isn't as important as the battle. It's the cerebral competition that you walk away with.
YM: Does the battle define what it means to be an emcee?
Hdub: I take the phrase ďmaster of ceremoniesĒ very literally. To me, an MC is someone who has the ability to master a ceremony- they express themselves creatively through lyrics and use that talent to rock a crowd. Based on that definition the online battling weíre doing on here has very little connection to being an actual real world MC. If you have hot lyrics, but you canít flow live or on audio then youíre not an MC, youíre a ghostwriter. It takes a lot less skill to throw disconnected punchlines at someone than it does to come up with an ill verse on one single subject. To me someone who rocks the stage hard in battle can be an MC, but theyíre showing more chops if they can flow in a track thatís about something more than dissing somebody.
The Lemon Kid: guess its part of the job...have to be able to see of the competition.
FrontLine: Not to me mainly because thatís personally my weakest point, but I still battle to become better...
Southernboy 423: An emcee has know how to spit on paper, off his head, at someone, and for himself, I call it a four corner emcee. Those are just a couple of things that define an emcee. So to me it does unless your just a hype man there to keep the crowd pumped up, you know the "wave your hands in the air" type. A emcee should always know how to freestyle battle, that shows people that he has his shit tight and that it is a natural talent and not something he did after doing his homework. An emcee who canít freestyle battle is not a emcee in my opinion; he or she is a paperboy or papergul.
Whateva: Partially. Battling doesn't help if you're trying to tell a story. It builds up grass roots fame though. It strengthens your basic skills.
YM: Are you this driven offline as well or is this just something to past the time while in school or work?
Hdub: As Iíve said though in coming on here Iíve found myself getting more and more caught up in making music. I am a pretty driven and focused person in most of my endeavors, when I go into something I throw myself at it 100% and thatís manifested itself over the past few months as Iíve fallen into this hip hop thing. Making music probably will never be more than a hobby for me, but right now Iím loving it. I see those people on OKP who make really pro-quality music and they talk about having been involved flowing and/or making beats for ten years. I hope that I will one day be one of those dudes like 9 years and six months from now.
The Lemon Kid: at the moment? What i'm doing on these boards is my work.
FrontLine: I'm actually in a group with some people from the board and we're really driven, and about to record a serious album to get us derr.... Me and the people on the board started by freestylin and battlin' on the street plus we put some songs together and have been playing live shows fo' a minute...
Southernboy 423: Yeah offline, Iím a animal, on the boards itís harder because iím from the south. I think the dialects take away from my verses. Right now Iím in Iraq fighting bushes bullshit war, but when Iím at home, I live in the studio or club writing or freestyling. This isn't just a hobby, itís me. It comes just as natural as turning your head after you thought you heard someone call your name. The Unknown put me up on the site and every since I've been straight, dig! Right now iím just feeling the whole online thing out, itís alright but it's not like being right in a emcees face while you bite his fucking head off. Some cats online fake it because you not there to see his face after he has read two jabs and a punchline that knock the wind out of him, instead he says the shit was "whack". Itís not a past time for me, its helping my survival, keeping my head level, until I get home.
Whateva: I write rhymes that I don't post on OKplayer, so I guess I'm somewhat driven offline.
YM: Last words.
Hdub: Props to blak & peace to everybodyÖ
The Lemon Kid: Hip Hop will be here forever, so letís love it...
Southernboy 423: I know none of the poets never see me leave a response to their stuff, they prolly donít care, but I read alot of them shits especially Photo, The Best Part, and The Lemon Kid and a couple others. Big up to the poets, they hold they shit down. All the battle cats or just verse writers I hope that we can get some of the people who donít dig battling to get a taste for it enough to become entertained. Whoever thought this damn site up is a muthafucker genius. Everyone on OKPlayer, keep doing what yall doing, Iím feeling this shit!
***Update coming soon, along with some other goodies***
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