Not everyone needs to be able to freestyle like crazy to be a dope emcee. Some emcees are more vibe and energy oriented, others are so meticulous about their lyricism that everything needs to be carefully written down ahead of time. But....if you can freestyle? Goddamn, goddamn, you just vaulted up the ranks.
We've seen plenty of proof that Vic Mensa can freestyle before, but this was my first time hearing Joey Purp live - although his iiiDrops album is excellent - and while I was expecting, no, hoping, for some greatness I wasn't prepared for the two to trade bars like Fort Knox.
Holy shit, you need to hear this. (Heads up since the video jumps right into the freestyle and skips the interview portion, that kid in the middle is a Vic Mensa super fan who came with him to the studio, not a rapper.)
I told you, that was some crazy talk. While it may not have been a freestyle in the most snow-driven pure sense of the word, I don't think any of those bars were made up on the spot, especially in the sections where they're trading off there must have been some rehearsal, that doesn't lessen the impact at all. It's like watching Curry and Thompson execute a perfect drive and dish play and then bury a three in crunch time. It's a play they've run a thousand times in practice, but to see it executed live, under pressure, is a thing of beauty.
So yes, while these kind of freestyles aren't the full measures of an emcee's worth, both Vic and Purp just rose another notch on the Best Rapper rankings I keep in my head at all times. With the run he's on I'm now extra eager for Vic to finish his no-longer-called-Traffic album.
And while we're here, there's just no way I could watch two emcees trade lines with Sway without remembering Slug and Eyedea's epic Wake Up Show freestyle - dare I say the best two-man freestyle ever? RIP to Eyedea, hip-hop lost a truly gifted mind when he passed. Enjoy.
By Nathan S, the managing editor of DJBooth and a hip-hop writer. His beard is awesome. This is his Twitter.