Freestyle 101

Freestyle 101 New Artist Month: Custom Made »


September '08 is New Artist Month on Freestyle 101 and who better to kick it off than Los Angeles-based spitters Custom Made.

Founded in 2002 while still in high school, Custom Made started as a crew of MCs before settling on a three-piece lineup of rappers Element and Bluff, and DJ Scoobs, who can be heard on their highly-anticipated sophomore release, Original Dynasty. After a steady stream of underground mixtapes, including the awesome Street Cinema series, Custom Made signed with ultra-hip indie Babygrande in 2006, who issued Sidewalk Mindtalk: The Best of the Custom Made Mixtapes that same year. The group’s official Babygrande debut, Original Dynasty, hit the streets earlier this summer, following the digi-only EP Truth Be Told.

Freestyle 101 was stoked to get this trio of fire breathing MCs in the booth at the Engine Room in Hollywood over a sick R.N.S. beat, and chatted with them in the parking lot about the current state of the L.A. underground.

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Nerdcore: MC Lars »

The third in G4tv’s Freestyle 101-inspired Nerdocre TV spots begins airing this week. Hot on the heels of ads featuring MC Frontalot and YTCracker, this one stars the great MC Lars, the self-proclaimed originator of "post-punk laptop rap." He has collaborated with many different artists, including Ill Bill and MC Chris, and was one of the first underground rappers to sample and reference post-punk and emo bands.

Next up in the TV commercials is the overlord of Nerdcore, Del the Funky Homosapien. Stay tuned…

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Freestyle 101: Sticky Fingaz (Onyx) »

Sticky Fingaz and his group Onyx changed hip hop forever when they released “Slam,” one of the first legit heavy metal-rap collaborations, off their debut album 1993’s Bacdafucup. Sure, Run-DMC and Aerosmith had walked this way, and Ice-T had introduced Body Count, but Onyx was taking hip hop in a hardcore direction it had never gone before. While others were chanting “throw your hands in the air,” Onyx was demanding the crowd “Throw Ya Gunz.” And their crowd wasn’t your average backpacker either. Onyx attracted a rougher, tougher audience, filled with headbangers, moshers, slam dancers and rowdy behavior closer to what you’d think of a punk show. The 1995 followup, All We Got Iz Us, didn’t fare we well at the time, but has since become a classic, with “Last Dayz” and the title track featured on many soundtracks, including prominent play in 8 Mile.

Of course, sci-fi fans know Sticky Fingaz when he played Blade on the TV version of the movie franchise. He also has been seen many times on The Shield as reoccurring character Kern Little, and has appeared in films like In Too Deep, Dead Presidents, Clockers, House of the Dead 2, Ride or Die, and many others. And as he confesses in his interview here, he’s a huge comic book fans and lover of all things X-Men and Marvel (no DC here, people!). And check his killer freestyle, recorded over a slinky Lord G beat at The Engine Room in Hollywood.

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Freestyle 101: Kidz In The Hall »

Hip-hop duo Kidz in the Hall are blowin’ up big time thanks to their sophomore album The In Crowd and the hit single “Drivin' Down the Block.” Yeah, sure TRL has been bumpin’ their videos, but it’s the hard work of rapper Naledge and DJ Double-0 that has truly put them in the spotlight, with non-stop touring and scene stealing slots on the Paid Dues and Rock The Bells festivals.

Kidz In The Hall got their big break when Double-0 made a connection with Just Blaze, who oversaw their Rawkus 2006 debut School Was My Hustle. But it was signing to legendary underground label Duck Down, home of Boot Camp Clik (Heltah Skeltah, Black Moon, Buckshot, etc.) that truly put them on the map. The In Crowd is the pair’s Duck Down debut, and marks a big improvement for the Kidz and their artsy, hipster style is quite a departure form the gun-clappin’ street raps of most Duck Down artists.

So Freestyle 101 was excited to get the dynamic duo in the booth at The Engine Room in Hollywood to bust one off the dome over a fierce R.N.S. beat. And only a few days after the Double-0 took a much-seen beating at an Arizona club from overzealous security. But despite the large black eye underneath his glasses, the kid was in a great mood and had much to say about growing up with hip hop on the east coast. Meanwhile, Naledge kicked an impromptu rhyme that included references to the Nintendo Wii, NBA Live, Streets of Rage, Street Fighter, Speed Racer, and watching the Travel Channel on his plasma. Nice.

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Freestyle 101: Shabaam Sahdeeq »

Fans of the underground know New York native Shabaam Sahdeeq for his appearances on Rawkus albums like Soundbombing and Lyricist Lounge. He is also a member of the group Polyrhythm Addicts with fellow indie heavyweights DJ Spinna, Tiye Phoenix and Mr. Complex. He has rapped alongside Eminem, Pharoahe Monch, Busta Rhymes, Kool G Rap, Common, Mos Def, Talib Kweli, Redman, Method man and many more, and has spit over beats by super-producers Alchemist, Hi-Tek, Ayatollah, and others. His newest releases are an album called Strategize and a mixtape called Relentless, both of which serves as a precursors to his upcoming Draft Records effort, The Out Come.

So Freestyle 101 was beyond stoked when our homeboy DJ J-Ronin hooked us up with Shabaam for a session at Play Studios in New York to hear him do his thang over a slick Lord G beat. Shabaam gave us a history lesson in the Big Apple underground, including tales from the legendary freestyle haven Lyricist Lounge. It was a pleasure to hear him spit and drop knowledge.

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Freestyle 101: Tech N9ne


Posted August 5, 2008 - By Frank Meyer

Freestyle 101: Tech N9ne »

Anyone who knows freestyling knows Tech N9ne from his days on The Wake Up Show. Despite being a resident of Kansas City, Tech N9ne used to appear on Sway and King’s popular Los Angeles (though nationally syndicated) hip hop show on a regular basis and spit ridiculously intricate and intense off-the-top rhymes, sometimes even rapping backwards and in his own alien language. His appearance alongside greats like Canibus and Chino XL on the infamous Wake Up Show Freestyles CDs and the posse track “The Anthem” featuring Eminem, RZA, Xzibit, Pharoahe Monch, Kool G Rap, KRS-One and more, cemented his rap as a unique MC.

You’ve also heard his songs "Jellysickle" and "My Wife, My Bitch, My Girl" from 2006’s Everready (The Religion) on the 25 To Life (PS2, Xbox) soundtrack, in which he is an unlockable character, and his track "The Beast" was also featured in 2006 Madden NFL (PS2, Xbox). His 2001 album Anghellic is considered a classic and the followup, 2002’s Absolute Power, was also well received, especially in the Juggalo community and amongst fans of horrorcore and rap-metal. That same year, he formed the label Strange Music, where he has released all of his albums since and even started signing other edgy independent artists. He is also a member of The Regime, which features Yukmouth, Dru Down, Tha Realest and Messy Marv, among others.

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Freestyle 101: Skillz


Posted July 29, 2008 - By Frank Meyer

Freestyle 101: Skillz »

The artist formerly known as Mad Skillz is best known for his 2000 tell-all single "Ghostwriter,” where he named artists he wrote hit singles for in the past (P. Diddy, Foxy Brown, Mase, Jermaine Dupri, among others), and his annual "Rap-Up" songs, which sum up the biggest events in hip hop over the past 12 months.

Born in Detroit, Skillz moved to Richmond, Virginia as a kid, where he honed his craft and developed his…ahem, skills. After finishing in second place in a national freestyle competition in 1992, he signed with Atlantic Records, who released his debut album From Where??? in 1996. In the late-‘90s, he united with fellow Virginia natives Missy Elliott, Timbaland, and The Neptunes, and made appearances on Timbaland's albums Tim's Bio (1998) and Indecent Proposal (2001). While he searched for a new deal, Skillz formed the Supafriendz and appeared on a remix of Aaliyah's 1998 hit single "Are You That Somebody.” He eventually signed with ultra-hip indie Rawkus, where he recorded his 2002 effort I Ain't Mad No More under his new moniker. Sadly, the album never got officially released in America until it was re-packaged as Confessions Of A Ghostwriter in 2005. Lately, he’s been a featured artist at okayplayer.com, run by ?uestlove of The Roots, and has been issuing his awesome “Rap-Up” singles. His new album is called The Million Dollar Backpack (out now on Koch) and features Black Thought, Talib Kweli, Common and Freeway.

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Comic-Con Freestyle 101: Murs (Living Legends) »

True hip hop heads know Murs from the group Living Legends, which also features fellow pro-spitters Sunspot Jonz, Scarub, Eligh and The Grouch, among others. But now the mainstream is about to get a taste of what the underground has been talking about for over a decade when his latest album, Murs For President, comes out on Warner Bros. September 30. This is a huge move for an MC who ain’t a gangsta, ain’t covered in bling and ain’t in a beef with everyone in the game. Murs is relying on tools too few have in hip hop these days: songs, beats, lyrics and substance.

Oh, and he has really funny hair. But I digress…

He also co-founded hip hop festival Paid Dues and is also a member of collectives Felt, the 3 Melancholy Gypsys, and the Log Cabin crew. Murs has also collaborated on several projects with heralded producer 9th Wonder, most notably 2004’s Murs 3:16-The 9th Edition.

When Murs stopped by Purple Reign Studios to shoot his Freestyle 101 over a funky Messiaz beat, he had comics and videogames on his mind. He rhymed about his broken Xbox, his HD TV, Halo 3, Spider-Man, and more game and tech stuff than one could possibly throw into 3 ½ minutes. He was also so stoked about this week’s Comic-Con he flowed about it extensively, even dissing illustrator Brian Wood (DMZ, Local) for being less than nice at a previous event.

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Freestyle 101 E3 Special: Supernatural »

If you’ve been watching Freestyle 101 over the last year, you’ve noticed that virtually every MC we ask to name the all-time best freestyler says the same thing: Supernatural.

Hailing from Indiana, Supernatural moved to New York and made a name for himself on the scene as a master freestyler via legendary battles with the likes of Juice and Craig G. He can be seen doing his thang in dozens of battle DVDs, including the film Freestyle: The Art of Rhyme. He cut a studio album in 2005 called S.P.I.T. (Spiritual Poetry Ignites Thought) and teamed with Freestyle 101 vet Phoenix Orion in the group Alien Nation for the collaboration album Earth Defenders. Soon after, Supernat’ cut an entire album of off-the-top rhymes with fellow wordsmith P.E.A.C.E. of Freestyle Fellowship called Camp Freestyle.

All of this culminated in 2006, when Supernatural set the new Guinness Book of World Records world record for the longest freestyle whilst hosting the Rock The Bells festival in San Bernardino, CA. He freestyled for over nine hours, breaking the original record of 8 hours 45 minutes. His specialty is letting members of the crowd pass up stuff out of their pockets, which he incorporates into his rhymes. It’s an incredible feat to witness, no doubt.

What many hip hop fans do not know about Supernatural is that he’s an avid gamer, having served as the MC of Midway's NBA Ballers and lending his track “Internationally Known” to the soundtrack of Tony Hawk's Underground. He’s a huge Grand Theft Auto fan, way into Resident Evil and a big Gun guy. Go figure!

So we here at G4 could think of no better man of Earth to join us at E3 to kick a live freestyle in front of the videogaming crowd. As you’ll see, Supernat’ went hard, incorporating the games on display, the objects people passed up to him, and everything and anything in the room. It was beyond impressive and we were honored to have him.

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Attention fans of G4tv’s multi-platform hip hop series Freestyle 101: Freestyle 101 will not post today as usual. Why? Because it’s E3, baby, and we have something special planned for yo’ ass!

Instead of airing a regular webisode this week, we have legendary freestyle champion Supernatural, who holds the Guinness Book of World Records title for “Longest Freestyle Rap,” performing an off-the-top rhyme at E3 in front of the crowd!!! Pretty cool, eh? So come on back to TheFeed this Thursday, July 17 and watch a very special Freestyle 101 filled with games, tech and YOU, the fans.

Freestyle 101: T.H.U.G. Angelz »

Fans of Wu Tang Clan know Hell-Razah and Shabazz the Disciple well. Both started off in the Wu affiliate group Sunz of Man before Shabazz went solo and eventually joined RZA’s horrorcore outfit Gravediggaz and then going solo. Meanwhile, Razah stayed with Sunz, releasing a slew of classic albums. Before forming side-project group Black Market Militia with Killah Priest and Timbo King, and issuing solo albums Renaissance Child and Razah's Ladder.

Now the duo has reunited as T.H.U.G. Angelz and have a stellar album out this week called Welcome To Red Hook Houses on Babygrande Records. Assuming the roles of tour guides, Razah and Shabazz commit to shining a light on the Red Hook housing projects that served as a creative breeding ground for them and many other independent emcees, making it a concept album of sorts.

Freestyle 101 was thrilled to get these world-class MCs in the booth at DaMan Productions in New York and watch them do their thing. In fact, the guys loved the R.N.S. beat they spit over so much that they included a variation of what they kicked here and included it on the album! So now Freestyle 101 is inspiring actual album tracks with the impromptu rhymes we get from these great artists! DOPE!

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Freestyle 101: Immortal Technique »

Like Chuck D of Public Enemy and Zach De La Rocha of Rage Against The Machine before him, Harlem by way of Peru rapper Immortal Technique represents the truth. His lyrics tackle such weighty issues as US political policies, strife in South America, social ills around the globe, poverty, genocide, racism, terrorism, religion and other important topics. And he does his homework too, educating listeners on political figures such as philosopher Karl Marx, revolutionary leader Che Guevara, Malcolm X, César Chávez, Fred Hampton and the Black Panthers, Amadou Diallo, and Marcus Garvey.

He is also a co-founder of the Grassroots Artists MovEment, which provides healthcare for underground artists, and created the blog "Police State Chronicles: Excerpts from the Street," which rallies behind victims of police brutality and abuse of authority. Tech recently kicked off Project Green Light as well, an effort with non–profit human rights organization Omeid International (www.omeid.org) that is building an orphanage/ clinic/school called The Amin Institute in Kabul, Afghanistan for children who have been left without families due to war and disease. He’s even organizing a charity concert to raise the funds and necessary awareness to complete the first phase of this program. So the man not only talks it, he walks it.

He also doesn’t grant many interviews and to our knowledge has yet to step in the booth in front of a camera and spit a freestyle, so G4 was honored when Immortal Technique agreed to step into DaMan Productions in New York and kick a rhyme for us over a sick Lord G beat.

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Nerdcore: YT Cracker »

A coupla weeks ago we showed you the first of four Freestyle 101-inspired Nerdcore hip hop TV promos for G4. It featured the great MC Frontalot rapping about videogames, tech and G4tv.

Well, the next one is up and running and you can watch it by clicking above. It stars YT Cracker and was shot on Hollywood Blvd. If you look carefully, you’ll also spot a cameo by fellow nerdcore artist MC Lars, who will be seen soon in another spot, along with Del the Funky Homosapien. Watch out for YT Cracker on Freestyle 101 soon too.

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Freestyle 101: Blaze Ya Dead Homie »

Fans of Insane Clown Posse and the Detroit underground hip hop scene know Blaze Ya Dead Homie as a top artist on ICP’s Psychopathic Records roster and as a member of the supergroup Dark Lotus.

The official bio on him says he is the zombie of a 1990s gangsta rapper shot in a Halloween drive-by prank who has returned to Earth to spread the message of ICP’s Dark Carnival. He wears a giant clock around his neck as the only thing keeping him alive, adorned with bullet holes. But the reality is that he’s Chris Rouleau from Mount Clemens, Michigan, who hardcore Motor City rap fans know from groups 2 Krazie Devils and The Sleepwalkaz, and his work with Twiztid. He also put in time as a roadie for ICP before getting signed to a solo deal with Psychopathic, which yielded his self-titled debut EP, now considered an underground classic. Colton Grundy: The Undying hit in 2004, and Clockwork Gray was issued in 2007, both of which were wholeheartedly embraced by the Juggalo contingent (i.e. – hardcore Insane Clown Posse fans).

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Nerdcore Rules On G4tv!


Posted June 19, 2008 - By Frank Meyer

Nerdcore: MC Frontalot »


Freestyle 101 is blowin’ up, people. First we got props from the world famous The Wake Up Show. Then we won the 2008 Webby for Best Music Series. Now, our MC Frontalot episode has inspired a series of TV commercials for G4 starring your favorite nerdcore rappers. Click above to watch the debut spot, featuring Frontalot and marvel at its awesomeness.

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