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Freestyle: The Art of Rhyme (2000)

If someone would hand you a piece of paper and would tell you that you’d have a minute to write down a poem, would you be able to write one that makes sense? What if you didn’t have the piece of paper and had to think of something on the spot. It would need to rhyme, have a rhythm and a flow, would you be able to do that? This is the world of the freestyle, in which rappers show how quickly they can think, say it and at the same time tell a story. It’s something which takes a lot of practice and when you are thinking of the next thing to say your mind is in a different place compared to what your mouth is doing (saying something you already thought up). This documentary focusses on the freestyle and does this the best way possible: By interviewing a lot of artists and show lots of freestyles.

Not every rapper is good at freestyling. It’s a skill which you have to practise to get better at. I used to rap in my teens, but freestyling was never my thing. Freestyle: The Art of Rhyme looks at the history of the freestyle, the battles (which MC is the smartest at dissing the other one) and cyphers (a circle of MCs who freestyle after each other). It also looks at questions like “Can a good freestyler make a good album?” or “Can a written text be a freestyle?”

Highlight of this movie is the battle between Juice and Supernatural. These two MCs are considered some of the best freestylers around. Supernatural is known for his performances in which he asks people in the audience to give in an object or say a word, which he then uses in his freestyles. Juice has a style which is so perfect that people regularly doubt wether or not they are written. When these two get on a stage to battle it means fireworks.

Freestyle: The Art of Rhyme is a documentary which will be interesting for fans of hiphop. The biggest part of this documentary consists of rappers who show their skills and try to stand out. A lot of old footage is shown as well, like a very young Black Thought and Questlove or Notorious B.I.G. doing their thing. If you don’t have any interest in the music, this documentary won’t change your mind. If you do however, it offers a lot of enjoyable moments.

Score: 7

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