Rap Rundown: Freestyle Frenzy
GRM Daily’s seminal Daily Duppy freestyle series has provided some pretty memorable verses, created a lyrical showcase platform for up and coming rappers and, in a way, changed the way in which we view UK freestyles – enabling us to keep up with the unfathomable wordplay of artists like Wretch 32 with its creative aesthetics. And, to mark the end of its final series, who better to sign off with than the aforementioned north London rapper.
Wretch has made a name for himself in the mainstream with commercially successful tracks like ‘Don’t Go’ and his unwavering loyalty to the underground scene and its up and comers has made him somewhat of an ambassador and a UK rap pioneer. But, for me, the best Wretch 32 moments have been when he’s jumped in the booth for a riddling freestyle which I’ve had to put on repeat to even try and comprehend. In 2013, he joined fellow Movement members for an iconic Fire In The Booth and more recently, in 2015, he brought along Avelino to join him in the BBC Radio 1Xtra studio to once again raise the bar.
Last week, as 32 turned 32, he celebrated his birthday by revisiting the GRM Daily studio, bringing with him a barrage of bars and perplexing punchlines which Avelino claimed were some of ‘the best he’d heard in his life’. Check out the last ever Daily Duppy session below.
Next up we’ve got another birthday. Last week saw SBTV celebrate its ten year anniversary with a Warm Up Session from Novelist where he took it back to the origins of dancehall, laying down a verse over Pinchers’ ‘Here I Come’.
Nov’s creativity and innovation has been prominent from the early days of his musical career. He’s experimented with a variety of BPMs, worked with an assortment of producers and even started his own independent label/movement. So to see him spitting grime over a dubby dancehall rhythm might seem unconventional but, to fans of the south London MC, it will come as no surprise.
The freestyle introduces some fresh material from Novelist, accompanied by some of his most famous lyrics to date. Press play below but beware of SBTV’s warning that it could result in ‘uncontrollable use of all limbs, head bopping, old skool roots-revival skanking, and grime-inspired rhythmic swaying’.
Lastly, we’ve got a session from a real, relatively unknown up and comer. For some, the name Dotty will have recently appeared on your radar, for others, this might be a name you haven’t heard of. I’m not going to act like I’m that far ahead of the game and tell you I’ve been onto him for a while, as the first time I heard Dotty spit was on the New Gen album, but as soon as I heard him, I knew he was a rapper I wanted to keep an eye on. His track ‘Thoughts’, which appears towards the latter part of the New Gen LP, was a continuous monologue which seemed to act as an introduction to the MC. It wasn’t structured with a verse then a hook and didn’t feature any unnecessary adlibs or features; it was just an unapologetic stream of consciousness from an enlightened, bright UK rap prospect.
His Blackbox freestyle, below, is even more introspective. Dotty wasn’t limited to the three or four minutes of a conventional album track and didn’t censer himself to cater for any particular audience; he just let the beat run and opened up to take the listener on a journey which continues on a rising trajectory of passion and honesty. Check out the freestyle below and if you haven’t already, grab your copy of the New Gen album here.
Words: Patrick Fennelly
Online Edit: Ra'ed Khan