Freestyle 101

In celebration of 420, we present to you this Freestyle 101 favorite, featuring stoney Cypress Hill rapper B-Real goin’ off the top about smokin’, games and his favorite TV network, G4!

 Dig more episode of G4’s multi-platform hip hop series Freestyle 101 here. Enjoy!

Freestyle 101: B-Real »

By the way, right now, it's 4:20 in St. John's Newfoundland Canada! What a world, eh?


Freestyle 101: Chali 2na (Jurassic 5) »

Hip hop heads know Chali 2Na from his incredible group Jurassic 5. Latin music fans know him from his work in Ozomatli and appearances with Santana. Pop music fans know him, as he's worked with everyone from Linkin Park, to Anthony Hamilton, to Roots Manuva. Videogamers know his music from the soundtracks to NBA Live 06 and NBA 2K7. His 2004 mixtape Fish Market collected many of his well-known guest spots onto one collection. But it’s his upcoming solo album Fish Outta Water that has fans' appetites...ahem, so wet.

Being L.A. natives our damn selves, we were thrilled to get this West Coast legend to step in the booth at The Engine Room in Hollywood to freestyle over a crazy R.N.S. beat. Chali also spoke about moving from Chicago to Los Angeles and his first-ever taste of a real freestyle battle courtesy of a then unknown MC named Microphone Mike spittin’ on the block, who later became Myka 9 of Freestyle Fellowship.

Make sure to check out other top MCs on Freestyle 101, including hardcore rappers like Fat Joe, M.O.P., LOX, Heltah Skeltah, and Immortal Technique; legends like Mobb Deep, Ice-T and Kool Keith; nerdcore artists like MC Frontalot, MC Lars, Del the Funk Homosapien, and many more.

Find us on MySpace and Facebook, rant in the Forums, and peep our behind the scenes photo gallery.


Freestyle 101: Thirstin Howl III »

Taking his name from a Gilligan's Island character, Thirstin Howl III is one of hip hop most underrated lyricists. Born in Puerto Rico and raised in Brownsville, Brooklyn, Thirstin began his career by winning The Source Magazine's "Unsigned Hype Award" in 1997, which got him a spot on the Soundbombing II compilation on Rawkus. His 1999 solo debut Skillionaire also introduced fans to his Lo Life crew -- Rack and Bar Lo -- who joined him in the New York’s DaMann Studios, along with up and comer Meyhem Lauren, for this very special posse edition of Freestyle 101.

Along with spittin’ off the top alongside his posse over a slick Lord G beat, Thirstin sat down with Freestyle 101 and chatted about growing up in New York and how he got turned on to rhyming. Interesting stuff.

Make sure to pick up Thirstin’s many albums, including Skilligan's Island, Licensed To Skill, his upcoming album Natural Born Skiller and his collabo effort with Sadat X of Brand Nubian. Also, be sure to keep your eye out for his upcoming cooking show Jail Recipes.

Freestyle 101 goes up every Tuesday at 9 a.m. PST (noon on the east). Coming up is Charlie 2Na of Jurassic 5 and Ozomatli. Make sure to check out other New York MCs on Freestyle 101, such as Fat Joe, Lil’ Fame, Sheek Louch, Heltah Skeltah, Buckshot, Immortal Technique, Mobb Deep, and more. Find us on MySpace, Facebook, rant in the Forums, and peep our behind the scenes photo gallery.

Freestyle 101: MC Lars

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Posted February 10, 2009 - By Frank Meyer


Freestyle 101: MC Lars »

MC Lars plays what he calls "post-punk laptop rap," a mix of alternative rock, old school hip hop and electronica. The Berkeley, California native released his first album in 1999 (Nothing to Fear) and has issued a steady stream of releases every year since, culminating with his latest, This Gigantic Robot Kills. Recent collaborations include The Digital Gangster LP with YTCracker and tracks with everyone from "Weird Al" Yankovic to The Donnas, Bowling for Soup and Ill Bill. Now that’s a diverse lineup!

MC Lars is also part of the burgeoning Nerdcore Hip Hop movement that includes rappers such as MC Frontalot, MC Chris, and the aforementioned YTCracker. He samples from alt rockers like Supergrass and Iggy Pop. He raps about computers, tech, videogames, literature, pop culture and is often backed by a live band and various visual aids in concert. It’s quite an experience. You’ve also seen him in G4’s Nerdcore TV spots, alongside Del the Funky Homosapien, among others.

When Lars dropped by The Engine Room in Hollywood to spit over a Messiaz beat, Freestyle 101 made sure to get him to chat about Nerdcore, as well as the Bay Area hip hop scene and being a dope MC in a punk rock world.

Freestyle 101 goes up every Tuesday at 9 a.m. PST (noon on the east). Coming up is Thirstin Howell III, Rack and Bar Lo, Meyhem Lauren, and Charlie 2Na of Jurassic 5 and Ozomatli. Make sure to check out other nerd-tastic MCs on Freestyle 101, such as Murs, Del, Kool Keith, Busdriver, Pigeon John, and more. Find us on MySpace, Facebook, rant in the Forums, and peep our behind the scenes photo gallery.


Freestyle 101: Sunspot Jonz (Living Legends) »

Many know Sunspot Jonz as a founding member of heralded Cali crew Living Legends, alongside Murs, Luckyiam, The Grouch, Scarub, Eligh, Aesop and Bicasso. Others know him as BFAP of underground duo Mystik Journeyman. Others know him as the solo artist responsible for a flood of CDs, including the awesome No Guts No Glory, as well as the recent Never Surrender. But one thing all fans know about East Oakland’s Sunspot Jonz is that he can freestyle.

So Freestyle 101 was happy as hell to get this true living legend in the booth at The Engine Room in Hollywood to spit some off-the-top rhymes over a Messiaz beat and chat about growing up in the Cali underground -- doing Top Ramen tours, sellin’ tapes at record stores back in the day for bus fare -- and generally living and breathing hip hop. Make sure to check out his upcoming house-hop project The Temper Twins, as well as solo efforts Fight Destroy Rock Volumes 1 & 2. Peep his Vlog too!

If you dig Sunspot Jonz, make sure to check out Murs, Del, LMNO, Lifesavas, Gift of Gab and Phoenix Orion. Freestyle 101 goes up every Tuesday at 9 a.m. PST (noon on the east). Next week is nerdcore hero MC Lars, followed by Thirstin Howell III, Charlie 2Na of Jurassic 5 and Ozomatli, and more. Make sure to check out our behind the scenes photos, our Forums, and visit us on Facebook and MySpace.


Freestyle 101: Killa Sha


Posted January 27, 2009 - By Frank Meyer


Freestyle 101: Killa Sha »

Newcomer Killa Sha is lighting the New York hip hop scene on fire with his blazin’ 16s and hot mixtapes. You may know him from Tragedy Khadafi’s Against All Odds album, where he was featured on five songs, or his work with producers such as Alchemist, Marley Marl, Ayatollah, and Sha Money XL. Or maybe you know him from his countless mixtape appearances courtesy of the likes of DJ Kay Slay, Green Lantern, DJ Whoo Kid and Cut Master C. But whether you are familiar with him via his album God Walk on Water, or his guest verses alongside Kool G Rap, Jedi Mind Tricks, Planet Asia, and Large Professor, there’s one thing you’ll agree on: Killa Sha is serious on the mic.

So Freestyle 101 was more then excited when Large Professor showed up at The Engine Room to tape his episode and brought the Queensbridge native with him. Ya see, Large Pro has a new album out called Main Source and yer boy is the featured rapper on it, so the duo were on tour together to promote the endeavor. We had no idea Shalumi was gonna show up, but being up on all the dope new MCs, we were stoked when he did and asked him to step in the booth to spit over a sleazy Lord G beat. And spit he did. He also chatted about growing up in Queensbridge and watching greats like his mentor Tragedy and Freestyle 101 vet Cormega battle on the block. Legendary stuff.

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Freestyle 101 Presents: Saafir On Living With Tupac »

With the Biggie Smalls movie Notorious a big hit in theaters over the weekend, we thought we’d take a look at another fallen hip hop icon, Tupac Shakur.

Yesterday's Freestyle 101 webisode featured lyrical legend Saafir spittin’ a mean off the top rhyme and chatting about his early days in the Bay Area. One thing we didn’t show you though was his lengthy discussion about living with Tupac early on in their career. Both rappers came out of Digital Underground and were introduced by member Money B. They quickly became roommates and friends, spending a great deal of time together hanging out, freestyling, eatin’, shootin’, pickin’ up on girls and all sorts of craziness. In this exclusive interview, Saafir reveals never-before heard stories about one of hip hop’s greatest soldiers. This is one you won’t wanna miss!

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Freestyle 101: Saafir


Posted January 20, 2009 - By Frank Meyer

Freestyle 101: Saafir »

Saafir is known as one of the Bay Area’s greatest lyricists. Founder of the Hobo Junction crew, he first made waves in 1994 with his classic debut, The Boxcar Sessions. He followed with 1998’s indie Trigonometry, made his major label debut the following years with The Hit List, and issued Good Game: The Transition in 2006.

Many also know him as 1/3 of the short-lived supergroup Golden State, alongside Xzibit and Freestyle 101 vet Ras Kass. Or you may also remember him from his role in the film Menace II Society. But it is Hobo Junction’s controversial on-air freestyle battle with rival SF crew Hieroglyphics that many hip hop heads remember him best.

In his Freestyle 101 interview, Saafir goes into great detail about what set off this legendary KMEL battle with Del the Funky Homosapien’s crew; how it went down in the studio; and how it finally ended back on the streets. It’s a unique look into one of the most notorious and infamous freestyle battles ever.

He also spits over a slippery R.N.S. beat at The Engine Room in Hollywood, chats about his days with Digital Underground, and weighs in on the debate over whether written rhymes can be used in freestyle or not. Fascinating stuff from a man many feel is one of the game’s all-time most underrated.

Plus, make sure to come back tomorrow when we air a bonus interview with Saafir where he talks about living with Tupac in the early days. The two rappers were roommates in the Bay area before they hit it big, and Saafir gives us a rare glimpse into what Pac was like as a roommate, a friend and a freestyler. You will not want to miss this.

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Freestyle 101: Teflon


Posted January 13, 2009 - By Frank Meyer


Freestyle 101: Teflon »

Having made his debut on the duo’s first album, 1994's To The Death, Brooklyn (Brownsville, to be specific) rapper Teflon has been down with M.O.P. since day one. He’s appeared on nearly all of their albums and side-projects since, as well as issuing his own efforts, with 1997’s My Will, and the stellar mixtapes Bad News Vol. 1 and Vol. 2. Considered one of the most underrated MCs out of the Big Apple, Teflon also has the honor of being one of DJ Premier’s go-go rappers, as the two have collaborated many times, including on Tef’s upcoming album, Contraband.

Freestyle 101 was happy to have Teflon stop by Play Studios in NYC to spit an insane crime rhyme over a crazy R.N.S. beat. Thanks to Laze E. Laze, Foxxx and Lil’ Fame for hookin’ us up with him (First Family 4 Life!). Make sure to check out other M.O.P. homeboys on Freestyle 101, including the aforementioned Lil’ Fame, Ikka-Bod, Loaded Lux and Termanology. Freestyle 101 goes up every Tuesday at 9 a.m. PST (noon on the east). Next week is hot newcomer Killa Sha, followed by Saafir, Sunspot Jonz, MC Lars, Thirtin Howell II and Charlie 2Na. Find us on MySpace, Facebook, rant in the Forums, and peep our behind the scenes photo gallery.


Freestyle 101: Cappadonna (Wu Tang Clan) »

Wu Tang Clan fans know Cappadonna as the tenth, and final, official member of the esteemed hip hop collective.

After a chance visit to Wu leader RZA's Staten Island apartment/recording studio during the recording of Wu member Raekwon's 1995 album Only Built 4 Cuban Linx, Cappadonna made his debut on "Ice Cream," and "Ice Water," two classics and fan favorites. He went on to record on Ghostface Killah's Ironman and was all over Wu Tang's Forever in 1997, but it wasn’t until 2000's The W that he became an official member of the Clan (meaning, the songs with him no longer listed him as “featuring …”).

In the meantime, he released 1998’s solo effort The Pillage, which was followed by 2001’s The Yin & The Yang and 2003's The Struggle. And before appearing on the Clan’s most recent comeback album 8 Diagrams, Cappa dropped a famous verse on Ghostface Killah’s 2006 Fishscale track "9 Milli Bros," addressing rumors that while the Clan was on hiatus he picked up the slack by driving a taxi cab in New York: "Diggler a.k.a. the Cab Driver / Drop 'em off in the middle of fire / Dirty Island, drag bodies to the Murderland / Knock n*ggas out hurtin' my hand."

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In case ya noticed, G4’s multi-platform hip hop series Freestyle 101 is on break for the holidays, and there is no new webisode today. We’ll return on January 6th starting with Cappadonna on Wu Tang Clan, followed by Teflon, Killa Sha, Saafir, Thirstin Howl III, MC Lars, Sunspot Jonz, Charli 2Na and more.

Freestyle 101 goes up Tuesdays at 9 a.m. PST. In the meantime, check out past webisodes at www.g4tv.com/freestyle101 or watch this one with Smoothe da Hustler, Trigger tha Gambler and D.V. Alias Khryst (make sure to check out D.V.'s new mixtape Counteraction):

Freestyle 101: Smoothe da Hustler & Trigger tha Gambler »



Freestyle 101: Sen Dog (Cypress Hill) »

There would be no Cypress Hill without Sen Dog. His gruff call and response delivery alongside fellow MC B-Real defined a hip hop era and helped put the west coast on the map in the early ‘90s. With a long list of smash hits on their resume (“Insane In The Membrane,” Rock Star,” "How I Could Just Kill A Man,” etc.), Cypress Hill is one of the most successful groups in the rap game and Sen vocals are as integral to the formula as DJ Muggs’ dark, boppin’ beats. But having been part of a group for so long, it’s no wonder he finally got the itch to go solo.

Released on Kottonmouth Kings’ emerging Suburban Noize label, Diary of a Mad Dog is Sen’s first album without his Cypress bandmates…but don’t worry, folks, he ain’t leaving the Hill. As B-Real and Muggs told us in their Freestyle 101s, the groups is simply on hiatus in 2008 as they unleash side-projects and solo endeavors and work on the group’s next album, which will blow your mind in ’09. Meanwhile, Diary of a Mad Dog should tide you over, with its gangsta beats and blunted raps, as should this dope FS101, recorded at The Engine Room in Hollywood over a heavy Golden Hour beat.

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Freestyle 101: People Under The Stairs »

Los Angeles is often thought of as gangland central when it comes to hip hop. From N.W.A. to Snoop Dogg to The Game, west coast MCs have always been known to spit tales of violence, Crips and Bloods. But not everyone. For every Dogg Pound, there was The Pharcyde and Ugly Duckling. For every South Central Cartel, a Jurassic 5 and Dilated Peoples. And People Under The Stairs proudly help carry on the post-A Tribe Called Quest backpacker tradition out here in SoCal …and are takin’ it ‘round the world.

Formed in 1998, and over four albums deep, rappers Thes One and Double K tour constantly and rock the stage mightily. Ya see, they came up in the golden era of Los Angeles hip hop, the days of The Good Life, Project Blow’d, Unity and Freestyle Fellowship, as is evident on their latest platter, the awesomely titled Fun DMC.

At the Engine Room in Hollywood, Thes One and Double K went hard over a funky Golden Hour beat, rappin’ about videogames old and new, and even giving out a few retro school cheats in the process. They were clearly going off the dome and having a blast doin’ it. And watch out fans of Mortal Combat and Tekken, ‘cause the boys have some controversial words for you.

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Freestyle 101: Coolio


Posted December 2, 2008 - By Frank Meyer

Freestyle 101: Coolio »

When hip hop fans think of songs that helped the genre cross over into mainstream, they think of Coolio’s “Fantastic Voyage” and “Gangsta’s Paradise,” two smash singles that ushered the way for MTV and radio’s acceptance of rap music. When people think of OGs that helped put the west coast on the map, Coolio certainly makes the cut. And when people think of true original in the game that look and sound totally unique, Coolio always comes to mind.

So it goes without saying that Freestyle 101 was excited to have the man himself step in the booth at The Engine Room in Hollywood over a bangin’ R.N.S. beat and do the damn thang. Out and about promoting his new Oxygen network reality show, Coolio’s Rules, and new album, Steal Hear, Coolio took some time out to spit off the top and give fans a glimpse into the early days of Cali hip hop. From talent show competitions to his tenure in WC and the Mad Circle to his multi-platinum career as a solo artist, Coolio has seen and done it all.

A new Freestyle 101 goes up every Tuesday at 9 a.m. PST (noon on the east coast). If you dig Coolio, then check out fellow west coast vets Ice-T, RBX, Tash, Ras Kass, Insane Poetry, and B-Real. Make sure to raise up in the Forums, peep us on Facebook and MySpace, and check out photo gallery. Make sure to come back next week for People Under the Stairs, followed by Sen Dog, Cappadonna, Teflon, Charli 2Na, Sunspot Jonz, Killah Sha and more.

Freestyle 101: Large Professor


Posted November 25, 2008 - By Frank Meyer

Freestyle 101: Large Professor »

New York hip hop vet Large Professor is considered one of the greatest producer/MCs in the game. Behind the mic he has helmed tracks off A Tribe Called Quest’s Midnight Marauders, Eric B. & Rakim's Let the Rhythm Hit 'Em, Kool G Rap's Wanted: Dead or Alive, and cuts by Nas, Busta Rhymes, Masta Ace, Big Daddy Kane, Mobb Deep, and many others. As an MC, his group Main Source recorded the classic Breakin’ Atoms album, where he discovered a young, unknown MC named Nas, who debuted on the track “Live at the BBQ.” After years of producing for others though, P returned to the mic for his critically acclaimed 2002 solo effort 1st Class and this year’s stellar Main Source.

So Freestyle 101 was beyond honored when this multi-talented maestro stopped by The Engine Room in Hollywood to drop science over a Messiaz beat and knowledge during the interview. Xtra P gives us a genuine off the top freestyle and schools us in hip hop with a history lesson in mic skills. He even brought along fiery up and comer Killa Sha, but you’ll have to wait a few weeks for his episode. 

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