Lyricism versus Freestyle Rhyming : What Makes The Ultimate MC?

MC Supernatural freestylin' rhymes live at Rock the Bells Miami, FL - Bayfront Park - May 2008

What is The Ultimate MC?

Webster tells us that a lyric is “a song-like expression of a poet’s thoughts and feelings.” It also tells us that a rhyme is “a correspondence or repetition of sounds with two or more words and/or syllables.” These are the ultimate fruit of the MC, but what is the ultimate MC?

For some reason a debate seems to exist within one of our elements of the Hip Hop culture. Most rap freestylists would come to believe that to be an ultimate MC is to spit quality rhymes off the top of their heads in a freestyle. Some even state that if one chooses to sit and write their rhymes on paper, then that person can never reach their highest creative level. Their goal to be that ultimate MC can never be fully accomplished.

In my opinion, some those rap freestylists are misguided due to their lack of understanding the craft of lyricism.

Writing lyrics is a whole different practice for it too is a special skill. Why? Well, a rap lyricist must always concentrate on making the words they write come to life; to sort of paint a picture so to speak. Quality does not end up on the forefront by accident. It’s automatic depending on the level of the artists craft and execution. And, vocabulary still plays a huge part as it does for the freestylist. Lyricism is just a different skill-set.

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Likewise; why is it that some rap freestylists have problems performing their craft in a music studio which often times sounds like unprepared vocals? I’ll tell you why. It’s because most rap freestylists can only gather information from their immediate surroundings when rhyming while lyricists arrive in the booth with polished rehearsed lyrics. Every written word a lyricist writes is highly important to the them for the recording, maximizing better execution of vocals in the studio.

On the flip side, a rap lyricist cannot enter an MC battle spittin’ lyrics if the rule in the arena doesn’t apply for premeditation; which for the most part it does not. It is all about spontaneous combustible wit and punch lines.

Now, let’s think about this for a second. Can anyone say that the freestylist MC Juice, from Chicago, is better than Rakim the lyricist? Or that the lyricist Busta Rhymes is better than Supernatural the freestylist?

OK, how about this other angle of debate; agree or disagree. Does executing rhymes build a song or create a character? My answer to that question is this, “it truly depends on that artist’s state of mind.”

The Types of MC Skills

Here’s what I feel is the true deal. There are quite a few levels within the Art of Emceeing. In my opinion there’s a certain level for writing lyrics, another for freestylin’, another one for rocking the crowd, and there’s another level for MC battling. For those who are practicing the MC element of the Hip Hop culture need to realize is that all of these skill levels coexist; even when constructing songs or creating a character. There should never be a debate about which level is better than the other.

Unless you wish to debate who has mastered every form I’ve mentioned in the Art of Emceeing.

And, if you yourself feel you’ve mastered two out of the four forms, then you have some more work to do, if that is your goal. You see, once you have accomplished mastering those skills, then and only then, you should be known as an all around ultimate MC. MCs like KRS One, Kool Moe Dee, Big Daddy Kane, and Grandmaster Caz just to name a few who have set the bar high.

Now get back to work!

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