I got in contact with hip hop & freestyle rapping at quite an early age and I was exposed to mainly American hip hop. At that time I had no clear knowledge of whether hip hop meant culture / not. Rap was the thing for me. Implicitly I would watch hip hop videos with DJ’s spinning, Break boys and Girls doing their thing. Graffiti colored settings. I would recognize all these in rap songs. My mind would conclude: that’s hip hop staff. Little did I know those were the elements.
Hip hop has taught me so many things but for now I will simply recollect when I started out free-styling / Freestyle rapping!
Free style rapping in just a brief is; rapping off your head without prior written or memorized lyrics. Some go a head to extend it to reading lyrics newly presented to you and fit them in a flow on beat – but this is more of a drill thing or challenge for practice. Free style rapping is seemingly what you see in most Cyphers.
I wasn’t the extroverted type growing up. I listened to a number of foreign rappers like Jayz, Pac, Eminem, Common, Kanye (at some point made so much sense to me), Outkast. I was exposed to 90’s – 2000’s rappers more.In Uganda; Klear Kut would cut it for me, Lyrical G, Bataka Squad, Sylvester and Abramz. I emulated these folks.
On the real deal, for us in High School freestyle was facilitated by drumming and banging school desks or tables. It was somewhat rebellious but that’s how we got to make beats. I was in St Kizito S.S Bugolobi for my O-Level and met a number of interesting chaps there. Emmy of the Double Kross crew. He would tease me into dropping lines and at the initial stage he sounded dope than I would try. Nathan Muzoora was our beat maker (banging the desk with a fork or coin making exquisite effects). After prep we would take the activity to dorm as we rapped off dome. We rapped about what was in our environment, posho, beans, the sucking teacher (as we thought) and the girls we liked. This was on condition it crossed your mind, making the act natural and on flow.
It Takes time right?
With time, I got good at my freestyle rap. I always had trouble writing and memorizing lyrics. On our talent shows (that were mainly Christian based) I would have Ernest Otim make an instrumental with the school Key board. (He now plays for Sundowners UG and Bantu Clan). I would go on stage with a preconceived Idea and rap about contemporary staff.
The real skill for public speaking started when I was picked out to be part of the performance team for the school. We had a partnership with a British school Deptford Green . We would have exchange visits. Prior to this, Ms Pauline asked us to sing Beast from england (from Animal Farm). My friends suggested me to give it a different feel. (I rapped the song of course in my way and- it was free styled). She liked it. Wilzy Wilson made the beat by drumming the desk again. This gave me confidence. Freestyle is creating in the moment. In My year two at University it was made clear, oral poetry has a quality of spontaneity and I agreed more for I had experienced it.
Back to the Exchange visits we had in my school …. In my Form four, one of the students who had come to our school from London had rap influences. A battle was suggested. We had a rough one, Rachelle Marley Reid (Now a Model / Model) had her bars right. Confidence, Confidence! was my teachers’ remark after that session. It started as a day to present drama then later freestyle battling. Same time, St Kizito was part of the Climate Change campaigns and I was chosen to be part of the touring team. We had Ben Okiror ( tour Keyboard-son), Idi Lees, and other folks. The school tapped into this skill I heard for poetry, and rapping. I would have an Idea and would freely talk about basing on the place I was in.
Skipping the details here, but:
Freestyle Rapping Helped me this way:
- I became the daring type, a quality good for a confident speaker
- Talking about confidence, I had things pressing me as a teenager and I would through the sessions we had express off head. Even if it meant the day’s events. I would let out and this was my natural outlet.
- I realized to speak to crowds you had to have a quick and thinking mind. Freestyle rapping is a sort of presentation in it self. At seminars I would use the same approach and even later at University. The idea of making familiar staff seem like a novel thing. Each presentation is novel.
- I use cue cards when am speaking in public, and I use them as stimulus to the mind. The same approach most freestyle rapper use. Taking advantage of what is in the environment. Freestyle rapping has many possibilities.
- I am an English Language and Literature teacher. Guess you know the view here, free speaking. In class I take the lesson to be a performance. Learning and teaching requires spontaneity and I have had that skill develop early enough. In situations when I want to for example illustrate rhyme in poetry I quickly think about words that can rhyme. I give my learners free bars!
- Problem solving and situational transitioning, which is also a quality needed in class. I derive it from Freestyle.
- Hosting. I MCeed my sisters grad party and my paps didn’t know his son could speak freely like how I did. I realized I could do radio (did many interviews at notable radio stations in town) even when i was never taken up – I now host the NuveyLive Podcast. It takes one with confidence and decadent mind to make these shows interesting.
Follow Writer Ayella NuveySHAWN on Twitter: @ayellahr
*****This Article is the first one in the New NuveyLive Memoirs Series. What memory do you have of hip hop and poetry? Send your story to firstname.lastname@example.org with a subjectline MEMOIRS******