Freestyle 101

Freestyle 101: Del The Funky Homosapien »

Whether you know Del The Funky Homosapien as a member of Gorillaz and the rapper on their smash alt-pop hit “Dirty Harry,” as the leader of Bay Area hip hop collective Hieroglyphics, as Ice Cube’s warped younger cousin, as one of the godfathers of Nerdcore, or as the guy who teamed with Dinosaur Jr. on the Judgment Night soundtrack, one thing is for sure: IF YOU KNOW HIP HOP, YOU KNOW DEL.

Celebrating the release of his long-awaited new studio album, The Eleventh Hour (on ultra-hip indie label Def Jux), Del stopped by Purple Reign Studios in Inglewood to drop a mean freestyle about videogames and chat about rappin’ in the Bay. Del was joined by Hiero bandmate A+, who introduced him before he let loose with a rapid-fire impromptu rhyme over a crazy Messiaz beat that proved yet again why this cat is one of the best in the game. Plus, he threw in references to Super Mario, Zaxxon, Yoshi, and even Congo Bongo! The man knows games. And with his sly, Cheshire cat grin in full effect, Del also chatted about how freestyling and battling started in the Bay Area and where it’s at now. And he should know!

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Freestyle 101: Fat Joe


Posted March 11, 2008 - By Frank Meyer

Freestyle 101: Fat Joe »

Fat Joe is a hip hop legend, point blank. From his 15 years in the game as a solo artist, to his days in rap supergroup D.I.T.C. alongside O.C., Lord Finesse, Diamond D, Showbiz and A.G., Buckwild and the late Big L, the man has repped hip hop. He also helped put Latinos on the map in the rap game, founding his crew Terror Squad in the process, which launched the careers of MCs like Cuban Link and Remy Ma and introduced the world to his protégé, the late, great Big Pun.

So it was with much honor and respect that Freestyle 101 accepted Fat Joe’s offer to meet him in New York while we were in the Big Apple and catch him spittin’ at a grand piano, Sinatra style. A true Don through and through.

In his interview, Joe takes us back to the glory days of hip hop, back when New York was the Mecca of hip hop and KRS-One and Lord Finesse ruled the freestyle circuit. It’s a rare glimpse back into the golden era of rap music and hip hop culture. Joe was there. He knows of what he speaks. (And who knew he was a Ninja Warrior fan?!?!)

Pick up Fat Joe’s excellent new album, The Elephant In The Room, and check out our behind the scenes photo gallery from the New York sessions. Freestyle 101 goes up at 9 a.m. PST (that’s noon over on the east) every Tuesday, and next week we bring you a videogame-themed rap from the one and only Del the Funky Homosapien. Stay tuned for Pack FM, Ice-T, Buckshot, Ali Vegas, Big Noyd, Kool Keith and many more.

Make sure to visit us on MySpace, watch past episodes, rant in the Forums or check out some past freestyles from fellow New York MCs Sheek LouchShyheim, Prodigy of Mobb Deep, Termanology,  Papoose, Joell Ortiz and Cormega.

Freestyle 101: Sheek Louch and Bully »

It’s hard to explain what a huge fan of Sheek Louch I am. But I’ll try…

As a member of The Lox, alongside members Jadakiss and Styles P, he helped put New York street hop on the map in the ‘90s. After getting discovered out of Yonkers, New York by Mary J. Blige, The Lox signed with Puffy to Bad Boy and began their rise to fane, which found them teaming with Biggie, leaving Bad Boy after one hit album amidst the legendary "Free The Lox" campaign, and signing to DMX's Ruff Riders label for their sophomore effort. Eventually they bailed and start their own label and crew, D-Block.

As a member of The Lox’s D-Block crew, he helped discover hood artists like Bully, Team Arliss and J-Hood and took on 50 Cent in a legendary diss track sparring match that continues on to this day. And as a solo artist, he is responsible three amazing albums (Walk With Me, After Taxes and the brand new Silverback Guerilla) and some of my all-time favorite mixtapes (Year of the Wolf, Still A Wolf and The Howling). Yes, Sheek Louch is one of the best on the mic out there, no doubt.

So image my surprise when after months of waiting for Sheek to roll out to L.A. on tour, he agreed to film a Freestyle 101 while we were out in The Big Apple. I was even more stoked when he invited us out to D-Block’s studio in Yonkers to hang with him, his protégé Bully, Lox sniper Styles P, and famed in-house engineer Poobs. It was truly an honor to be shooting in this legendary studio that I had seen in so many Youtube videos and where so many of my favorite songs were recorded. (Thanks to Supa Mario, Koch and Lamont for making it happen!)

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Freestyle 101: Insane Poetry


Posted February 26, 2008 - By Frank Meyer

Freestyle 101: Insane Poetry »

Before there was horrorcore, before Gravediggaz, before Insane Clown Posse, there was Insane Poetry. Though the world got its first taste of the blood-splattered lyrics of rapper Cyco and his posse via the 1992 album Grim Reality and single “How Ya Gonna Reason With A Psycho,” Insane Poetry actually first hit wax the previous year on Rodney O-Joe Cooley’s single “Get Ready To Roll” and an appearance at the legendary Coolin’ In Compton Festival in 1990 alongside N.W.A., Compton's Most Wanted, and Big Daddy Kane.

So IP's street cred is rock solid...yet this ain’t no irrelevant, old school outfit either. Like Kool G Rap and Kool Keith, Insane Poetry has managed to stay one step ahead of the underground rap scene and relevant as hell. Fallen From Grace is Insane Poetry’s latest album, and it’s every bit as intense as classics like Blacc Plague and Faith In Chaos. Recent death-metal-rap collaborations with Sutter Kain found on IP’s MySpace page proves Cyco is always a step ahead of the trends.

Freestyle 101 was thrilled when Cyco agreed to stop in and drop an insane freestyle over a swaggering Messiaz beat, and talk about the SoCal hip hop movement. He even rapped about Batman, The Matrix, flesh eating zombies, and gave some props to his Insane Clown Posse Juggalo homies. Nice…

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Audiosurf is a new music game for the PC, currently available for $10 through Steam. It analyzes your music and creates a track based on the song.

There are a few different modes in the game. This one involves collecting the different colored blocks and avoiding the gray ones.

Here's what Gift of Gab's Freestyle 101 looks like in the game and check out the original freestyle after the cut


AudioSurf: Gift of Gab Freestyle 101 »



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Freestyle 101: Prodigy (Mobb Deep) »


Anyone who loves hip hop knows veteran New York duo Mobb Deep. Their 1995 breakthrough sophomore album The Infamous featured hits “Survival of the Fittest” and “Shook Ones Part II” and cemented their rep as one of the hardest ever. So imagine our excitement when Prodigy agreed to tape a Freestyle 101 at Play Studios and rap for us over a crazy Messiaz beat. Hell, he even rapped about Xbox, PS3 and Grand Theft Auto, making this perfect for the G4 crowd.

But fame in the rap game comes with a price, and rappers Prodigy and Havoc know this all too well. Beefs over the years with everyone from Tupac to Jay-Z to Fat Joe have kept their name in the headlines, but also forced some fans to choose sides, making as many Mobb Deep naysayers as fans. And when they hooked up with 50 Cent and signed with his G-Unit Records a few years back, the polarization continued. But critics were silenced when Blood Money was released in 2006 and featured all the sinister beats, catchy hooks and bangin’ rhymes fans have come to expect, reminding everyone why Mobb Deep has stayed in the game so long: They are incredible.

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Prodigy Exclusive: Hip Hop Cops vs. 50 Cent »

On the eve of his 3 ½ year prison sentence on weapons charges, Prodigy of legendary New York hip hop group Mobb Deep sits down with G4tv’s Freestyle 101 and opens up about his arrest, how the New York Police Department allegedly tried to blackmail him to set up 50 Cent, and why his new album H.N.I.C. 2 will not be the last you hear of him, despite going to the clink.

This is a candid interview with hip hop giant talking about some very real and scary issues, folks. It’s one you won’t wanna miss (and don’t sleep on the ending, where you’ll see a preview of his upcoming Freestyle 101 session).

Plus, make sure to pick up Prodigy’s new album H.N.I.C. 2, out on March 25 and tune in next week, on Tues. Feb. 19 at 3 p.m. EST for Prodigy’s Freestyle 101, where he spits about Xbox, PS3 and Grand Theft Auto.

Freestyle 101: Shyheim and Illy Ale »


Wu Tang Clan fans are familiar with Shyheim when he was known as The Rugged Child, the youngest affiliate of the legendary hip hop collective. 

He made his debut in 1995 with Shyheim a/k/a the Rugged Child and an appearance on Big Daddy Kane’s “Show -n- Prove” alongside Old Dirty Bastard and a young Jay-Z. The Lost Generation followed, and by 1999 Shyheim released Manchild and was all grown up. The Greatest Story Never Told hit in 2005 and Shyheim has been on the mixtape grind ever since. He is currently getting much attention from his song and video for “Fat Boy”, a diss against Wu Tang’s Raekwon. It seems Rae shut Shyheim down when he was trying to get a DVD drop from P. Diddy backstage at a recent Wu tang show. And we all know that disrespecting an MC ain’t a good move, even if you are a legend.

In his Freestyle 101 session, Shyheim discusses the beef with Rae, his relationship with Wu Tang, and the hip hop scene in Staten Island. He even brought his cousin Guy (a.k.a. Illy Ale) along to Play Studios in Manhattan and the duo tag-teamed rapped about what kind of videogame they’d make over a chill Messiaz beat. Shy plays the man on the street in the big city, while Illy Ale plays the role of death as it sweeps through the streets. Life as a videogame…an interesting and unique approach.

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Freestyle 101: LMNO (Visionaries) »

LMNO is a member of Los Angeles hip hop collective The Visionaries, alongside 2Mex, Lord Zen, Dannu, KeyKool and DJ Rhettmatic. The Visionaries latest album is titled We Are The Ones (We've Been waiting For) and is the group’s fourth effort. The group has been acknowledged for its positive impact and contribution to hip hop, and was even recently inducted into the Universal Zulu Nation. Their music was also featured in Oceans Twelve, Volcano High and Midway's NFL Blitz.

Yet LMNO has a solo career as well, and his upcoming album Selective Hearing is due out this March. You can also hear him on the latest CD by fellow Long Beach resident RBX., also a Freestyle 101 vet. LMNO spends his time over the past 12 years touring the world with his group or on the solo tip and has gained a reputation for his explosive live performances.

So Freestyle 101 was stoked when LMNO decided to drop by Reef Studios and kick freestyle about Atari, Pac-Man, the L.A. Raiders, and hip hop. He also had a lot to say about the underground hip hop scene in Los Angeles, and why the city breeds such hungry MCs.

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Freestyle 101: Hangar 18


Posted January 29, 2008 - By Frank Meyer

Freestyle 101: Hangar 18 »

New York’s Hangar 18 are the latest act to come out of hip indie label Def Jux, home of RJD2, El-P, Aesop Rock, and Del. They have been steadily releasing songs on cool compilations and 12" singles, and touring the country, sharing the stage with the likes of Mos Def, Talib Kweli, Murs, Aceyalone, Atmosphere, and many others.

Many first got wind of “The Hangar” on the underground classics The Persecution of Hip Hop and The Prequel Album. In addition MCs Windnbreez and Alaska were also featured on Random B-Sides from Weightless Records. Plus, Alaska was featured on the seminal Cannibal Ox album, The Cold Vein, and he and Windnbreez were featured on Def Jux Presents 2 as well as the CP Records release Euphony. The group’s follow up to their debut effort, the awesomely titled The Multi Platinum Debut Album, is coming soon, so keep your ear to the streets!

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Freestyle 101: MC Frontalot


Posted January 22, 2008 - By Frank Meyer

Freestyle 101: MC Frontalot »

Known as “Final Boss of Nerdcore Hip Hop,” MC Frontalot has been treating hip hop fans and nerds around the globe to his unique brand of rap music.

“What the hell is ‘Nerdcore’,” you ask?

Well, think Kool Keith…if he was white…and rapped about videogames, RPGs, binary code, computers and other stuff that appeals to the G4tv audience.

You may also know him from his appearance in the documentary Nerdcore Rising: The Movie, his annual performances at webcomic Penny Arcade's annual Expo, his influential debut CD Nerdcore Rising, or from his cameos in The Walking Dead comics (illustrator Tony Moore is a big fan). He also has a brand new album out, Secrets from the Future, that is getting rave reviews.

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Freestyle 101: RBX


Posted January 15, 2008 - By Frank Meyer

Freestyle 101: RBX »

Seven execution style murders / I have no remorse ‘cause I’m the f**kin’ murder
Haven’t you ever heard of a killer? / I drop bombs like Hiroshima

And with that line from “High Powered” off Dr. Dre’s landmark album The Chronic, Long Beach rapper RBX landed himself in the hip hop hall of fame as one of the greatest personalities to grace the mic.

Armed with a voice so deep and scary-sounding it’s as if every syllable is a threat from El Diablo himself, and an arsenal of rhymes so vivid it’s no wonder they call him “The Narrator,” it’s no wonder RBX has appeared on so more classic albums than any rapper out of the LBC besides Snoop himself. The Chronic, The Chronic 2001, Doggystyle, The Marshall Mathers LP, to name but a few. He’s worked with everyone from Korn to B-Real, Dilated Peoples to Warren G, and KRS-One to Nas, and even won a Grammy in 1993 for his co-writing of Dr. Dre's “Let Me Ride.” He also happens to be the son of Bootsy Collins, and a cousin of Snoop Dogg and Daz Dillinger. Now how’s that for hip hop street cred?

But the craziest part about RBX is that very few have ever seen him or know what he looks like. He’s rarely granted interviews and is often engulfed in darkness and shadows in videos. So imagine our surprise when we got word The Narrator X was out promoting his new album Broken Silence and down for doing a Freestyle 101? Excited? Nervous? A little freaked out? Yup, all that and more.

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Freestyle 101: Planet Asia »

Cali underground vet Planet Asia has been making a name for himself for a decade or so in the hip hop game and with the release of his latest effort, The Jewelry Box Sessions: The Album, seems to finally be getting the success he deserves. In fact, this fiery MC has made so much noise in both Los Angeles and the Bay Area over the years that many fans assume he hails from one city or the other, but as he explains in his Freestyle 101 interview, he was born in Fresno and had to venture up and down the coast to carve out a name for himself in the rap game.

And when Planet Asia (a.k.a. King Medallions) stepped into the booth at the Engine Room in Hollywood to spit fire over a Messiaz beat it was clear why so many MCs respect this dude– ‘cause he’s off the chain! But don’t ask us, just check the stats, baby!

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Freestyle 101: Thirsty Fish


Posted December 18, 2007 - By Frank Meyer

Freestyle 101: Thirsty Fish »

Comin’ straight outta the L.A. underground, Thirsty Fish represent real hip hop to the fullest. As part of the Project Blowed collective (which includes Freestyle Fellowship, Aceyalone, Abstract Rude, Busdriver, and more) Thirsty Fish have been schooled in the fine art of freestyling from years of battling and ciphers in legendary Leimert Park. And all that hard work has clearly paid off as members Open Mike Eagle, Psychosiz and DumbFounDead tag-team freestyle with ease, like they were born with mics in their hands.

Thirsty Fish’s latest album, Something in the Water, showcases the trio’s complex wordplay, dope beats, and unique sense of humor. The guys have skills, but they aren’t frontin’ like they’re fake thugs. It’s a return to the backpack sound of yesteryear, but with a fresh, new twist. And if you dig their sound, check out DumbFounDead’s side-project Super Barrio Bros, an all-videogame influenced mixtape laced with game samples, sounds and rhymes. Clearly these guys are true gamers, and it showed in the booth at the Engine Room when they stepped up to the mic over a Bruce Yi beat, dropping references to every game under the sun as well as G4tv, Attack of the Show, X-Play, Electric Playground and even Leo Laporte and TechTV!

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Freestyle 101: The Pack


Posted December 11, 2007 - By Frank Meyer

Freestyle 101: The Pack »

Riding hot off the heels of last year’s smash single “Vans,” which broke through MySpace and YouTube, The Pack are the latest sensation outta the Bay Area, home of the hyphy movement, E-40 and Too Short.

In fact, it was the aforementioned Oakland legend who saw national potential in the group and gave them their start. With Too Short’s guidance, The Pack quickly released "Vans" via MySpace and YouTube where the tune caught the ears of KMEL's Assistant Program Director and Music Director Big Von and radio personality, Chuy Gomez. KMEL added the track into rotation and soon "Vans" became a mainstay on the station's daily countdown. Taking the group further under his wing, Too Short introduced The Pack to Jive Records where the guys signed and released 2006's EP, Skateboards 2 Scrapers. Within months, The Pack not only gained well-deserved national recognition, but they brokered a branding deal with Vans. As a result, the group awarded shoes to fans in promotion of Skateboarders 2 Scrapers. MTV and MTV2 also added "Vans" and The Pack's second single, "I'm Shinin'" into rotation and the rest is history.

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